BRISBANE — On February 13, 600 people attended a public meeting at the Brisbane Institute to hear Canberra-based Australia Institute executive director Clive Hamilton speak on the recently published book Silencing Dissent: How the Australian government is controlling public opinion and stifling debate, which he co-edited with UNSW politics lecturer Sarah Maddison.
The book details how executive power is being further concentrated in the office of the prime minister. Hamilton said that friends of John Howard had been appointed to many public bodies, and that the ability of the media to report freely had been restricted in recent years.
Hamilton criticised government ministers for aiming to neutralise critics and opponents by vilifying and targeting the media and individual citizens with increasing frequency. He concluded with a warning about the "creeping authoritarianism of the last decade".