New NSW police powers: 'political hijacking'

Issue 

BY JENNY LONG

SYDNEY — The Terrorism and Police Powers Act, which was rushed through NSW parliament on December 3, amounted to a political hijacking of the public's fears of terrorism by Premier Bob Carr and police minister Mick Costa, said the NSW Council for Civil Liberties' David Burnie on December 4.

Burnie was speaking at a public meeting called by the Socialist Alliance to oppose the latest attack on civil liberties, this time being carried out by a Labor government in pre-election mode. The meeting was also addressed by speakers from the NSW Greens, the Federation of Islamic Councils and the Socialist Alliance.

Although Carr has said that he will not use the new laws against peaceful protests or industrial action, Burnie drew attention to similar guarantees given by a Queensland Labor premier after the second world war. Then, repressive legislation was passed and later used by the Joh Bjelke-Petersen state government to turn Queensland into a police state.

Socialist Alliance upper house candidate for the March NSW election, Lisa Macdonald, told the meeting that the speed of reversion to a police state had been stunning, with the rights to equality before the law, freedom from abitrary arrest and the separation of powers between executive and legislative arms of government, coming under attack. Police powers would always be abused, she said, and police powers were now being openly used to intimidate peaceful protestors and silence dissent.

The Socialist Alliance has called a picket of John Howard's office at 5pm on December 11, the day federal legislation further empowering the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will go before parliament again. For more information on the protest, phone Michael Thomson on 0418 450 812.

From Green Left Weekly, December 11, 2002.

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