In which our intrepid hero bemoans the fate of democracy in his country.

I’m a little upset at the treatment of American peace protester Scott Parkin, and the new anti-terror laws we’re going to get in Australia. To fill you in (I’ve cribbed this wholesale from the Sydney Morning Herald):

  • Mr Parkin is a 36-year-old Texas-based teacher and activist with the Houston Global Awareness Collective (HGAC), which aims to end the US-led war in Iraq.
  • Since February 2003, the HGAC has targeted US-based multinational company Halliburton, which is a prime recipient of US government contracts in Iraq and formerly had US Vice President Dick Cheney as its chief executive officer.
  • Mr Parkin has described Halliburton as a "poster child of war profiteering".
  • The HGAC website states it is a "grassroots organisation which raises awareness of and acts upon issues of globalisation, the environment, and militarism, as well as class, gender and racial inequality".
  • The HGAC vows to "increase the use of non-violent, direct action and popular education as tools for social change".
  • Mr Parkin arrived in Australia in early June on a six-month visitor visa.
  • On August 31, he took part in a non-violent protest outside US corporation Halliburton’s Sydney headquarters.
  • When detained, he was due to give a workshop in Melbourne discussing emerging trends in grassroots direct action campaigns.

The reason given for Parkin’s deportation is because ASIO flagged him as a security threat. Which is, it seems, ASIO doublespeak for hippy. Maybe ASIO should check out Nimbin or Byron Bay or Newtown—they’re up to their eyeballs in security threats.

My friend, George, emailed me a heap of letters to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald on Parkin’s deportation. Here are a few choice quotes:

"This is how they use the powers they have now, and yet Howard and Ruddock ask us to trust them to give them more. The war on terrorism has extended to a war on dissent."

"So non-violence is now a threat to national security in this war on terrorism. Even Orwell would be impressed by that one."

"Although the Libs are good for the economy, I’d rather have less prosperity than live in a police state. No amount of prosperity can compensate for the democratic freedoms that the Liberals are taking away. […] This is the sort of thing that doesn’t happen in Western democracies. This is the sort of thing that only happens in morally and politically corrupt Third World countries. And now it’s happening here."

"[The Howard Government] appears to have identified a greater threat to Australia than terrorism: peace."

"First they came for the peace activists and I did not speak out because I was not a peace activist."

And what powers will the authorities have under these new anti-terror laws?

  • The right to detain suspects for up to two weeks without charge.
  • The right to randomly search people without warrant.
  • The ability to petition courts for 12-month "control orders" to restrict a security risk’s movements and contact with others—including the right to plant tracking devices on them.
  • A "modernisation" of the existing crime of sedition.

Wonderful! If I get in early, do I get a window seat on my boxcar to the gulag?

All this because some loony Muslim convert from California threatened to blow up Melbourne. Dude, chill out. Smoke some hash or something—I hear it’s big with both your demographic stereotypes.

UPDATE: It seems that Parkin now has to pay $AU11,688.34 for his deportation. It’s standard procedure for DIMIA—and I don’t have a huge problem with the policy—but if ASIO hadn’t designated him as a security threat in the first place, he wouldn’t have to be slugged with over eleven and a half grand of hippy tax. Granted, the guy has a problem with Bush—but it’s not like he’s blowing anything up over it, is he?

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