Terror laws in parliament
On March 22, the federal government introduced the final bill of its "anti-terrorism" package into parliament. It proposes to give ASIO the right to detain people for 48 hours without access to legal advice, and with penalties of up to five years imprisonment for refusing to answer questions.
Other provisions include the right to ban organisations, and the creation of a broadly defined terrorism offence, punishable by life imprisonment.
The package of bills will be examined by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. However, the government and the ALP have allowed just two weeks for public submissions on the legislation to the committee. Submissions are due by April 5.
Detainees win demands
Around 35 of the 77 asylum seekers held in Melbourne's Maribyrnong detention centre ended an eight-day hunger strike on March 12, after winning some significant concessions from the centre's management.
Negotiations with management resolved that previously banned visitors will be allowed access to the centre, detainees will soon be able to use a grassed outdoor area, and detainees will now be able to take food into their rooms to eat when they are hungry.
Hobart M1 makes plans
HOBART — The first meeting of the M1 Alliance on March 21 decided on a three-pronged focus for this year's May Day action: opposition to the so-called war on terrorism, support for freedom for refugees, and opposition to corporate globalisation.
It was decided to begin the day with a blockade of Forestry Tasmania offices in Hobart, beginning at 7 am on May 1. State government forestry policies — including widespread clear-felling of old-growth forests — are amongst the worst examples of corporate greed. This is to be followed by a rally (at an as yet undecided location) at noon.
Canberra M1 rally called
CANBERRA — At its meeting on March 21 the Canberra M1 organising committee decided to call a rally on May 1 at 12.30pm in Garema Place. Under the theme, "A better world is possible", the rally will raise three demands: "Close the detention centres", "Stop the war on workers" and "Hands off Iraq!"
From Green Left Weekly, March 27, 2002.
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