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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Proposed anti-terror laws attack basic freedoms

Tony Abbott announces proposed new laws with foreign minister Julie Bishop and attorney general George Brandis in Canberra

Planned changes to anti-terror laws outlined by Tony Abbott and George Brandis on 5 August amount to a staggering new attack on basic civil rights writes Corey Oakley in Red Flag.

Most prominent among the raft of proposals is “making it an offence to travel to a designated area where terrorist organisations are conducting hostile activities unless there is a legitimate purpose”.

The only countries named by Abbott as places where “Australians are fighting overseas” were Iraq and Syria. But given both the government’s almost exclusive focus on Muslims as the source of terrorism, and the extremely broad definition of what it considers to be a “terrorist organisation”, almost any country in the Middle East could be considered an area where “terrorist organisations are conducting hostile activities” (except Israel, whose hundreds of foreign fighters, including many Australians, spread only love).

What we are talking about is a potential situation where Australians who travel to Cairo, Tripoli or Mecca, let along to Baghdad or Damascus, would be forced to prove to ASIO or to a court that they were not there to participate in terrorist activities.

This is a complete reversal of the burden of proof and a scandal of the highest order.

As Greg Barns, barrister and spokesperson for Australian Lawyers Alliance, told the ABC’s World Today program: “What you’re going to find here, if you lower the standard of proof, you will get innocent people who will go to jail.” This is particularly outrageous, Barns pointed out, when “one considers that the penalties, when found guilty of terrorism offences, effectively are from five years up to life”.

The government also plans to broaden the listing criteria for terrorist organisations to “ensure advocacy of terrorist acts is not limited to specific acts and that advocacy captures promotion and encouragement of terrorism”.

Even in the best of circumstances, such a change would be draconian and make a mockery of attorney general George Brandis’s claim to support freedom of speech. It is made many times worse by a context in which the definition of terrorism is highly ideologically charged to suit the pro-Israeli, anti-Muslim prejudices of the Australian government.

When Julie Bishop announced on 17 July that the Australian government “has listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1373”, she essentially declared anyone who supports the right of Palestinians to resist the invasion of Gaza to be a supporter of terrorism. This is in spite of the fact that the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza are illegal under international law.

It is also in spite of the fact that the right to resist occupation is similarly enshrined in repeated UN declarations that affirm “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle”.

Declaring national resistance movements to be terrorist and changing the law to make “promotion and encouragement” of such movements a basis for an organisation or individual to be considered terrorist – by this logic the United Nations should be a banned terrorist organisation and its representatives jailed.

In all probability the idea of jailing UN officials as terrorist sympathisers would be greeted with much enthusiasm at private Liberal Party gatherings, whatever they say in public. These proposed new laws – in concert with the government’s relentlessly pro-Israel line as the children of Gaza had their limbs ripped apart and their parents blown to bits – are a chilling indicator of the real mentality of the people who run this country.

But it is not just the Liberal Party. When buzz words like “terrorism” and “Muslim extremism” appear in the papers, the ALP can be relied upon to have sold off its backbone five times over before you’ve gotten out of bed.

The Guardian reports that Labor has said it “would like to offer bipartisan support but wanted to ensure the need for security was balanced with the right to privacy”.

But if Labor has been predictably pathetic, the government may have gotten a surprise from the various Islamic community organisations that have come out much more strongly than at any time in the last 15 years.

Islamic Council of Queensland president Mohammed Yusuf said, “Why are Muslim leaders being called upon to condemn what is happening in Iraq and Syria when the government has not come out to condemn what is going on in Gaza – 1,800 lives lost and government has not said a word about it.

The people are of the view that why should we cooperate with the government on this, when our own people are being killed and it doesn’t matter. This is why we are all having second thoughts on to what extent we are going to cooperate with the government when it comes to anti-terrorism.”

Ghaith Krayem, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said in a statement, “The Islamic community is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. We will no longer stand by and be treated as the demon used by political parties for their own gains.”

Such defiance is welcome, brave and necessary. It is now the responsibility of the whole left to stand with the Muslim community and oppose these laws.

Full statement issued on 7 August by the Islamic Council of Victoria:

On Tuesday 5 August the prime minister and the attorney general announced firstly that the proposed changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act would not go ahead and secondly that there will be an expansion of the anti-terror legislation to give security organisations more powers – particularly in regards to individuals travelling overseas to locations that the government has or will identify as regions of concern.

It goes without saying that the ICV is pleased at the first announcement and fundamentally opposed to the second. This however is not the most significant issue with the prime minister’s staged press conference. The issue of greatest concern is that the prime minister clearly linked the two issues, with the Muslim community as the focus of the two.

Essentially the prime minister said that the reason for not proceeding with the anti-discrimination changes was that it had become a threat to community “unity”, particularly with support the government needed from the Muslim community [for] the anti-terror regime. He then went on to say that we should all be part of “team Australia”, effectively labelling anyone un-Australian who didn’t support the changes. Given his specific mention of our community this was clearly aimed at ourselves.

The ICV is appalled at such behaviour by the prime minister for the following reasons:

• There is no connection whatsoever between the two issues and by linking them through the Islamic community has clearly used our community for his political schemes.

• The announcement gave the impression that the Islamic community had in fact been “bought” through the abandoning of the anti-discrimination changes.

• This will fuel the Islamophobic sentiment in the community.

• Once again we are being asked to prove our “Australianness”.

We categorically object to this and in no way support the expansion of the anti-terror legislation.

We will no longer allow such insults and cheap rhetoric to go unanswered.

Our community has been repeatedly targeted in this regard for over two decades now and we will not tolerate it any longer.

Muslims have been a part of the Australian landscape since before the arrival of Europeans to this land. We have and will continue to make significant contributions to this society and we find it insulting and offensive that we are repeatedly asked to reassert our connection with this country.

Finally we would give the prime minister and his government some free advice. Criminalising the support of rebellions overseas will in no way stop young Australians from doing this. The government needs to stop focusing on these sensationalist symptoms that accrue them political mileage and genuinely look at the root causes.

The question of why young Australians would willingly put themselves in harm’s way is much more complex than some spurious notion of religious extremism. We would point the government to its own foreign policies as a starting point. The government stance on the issue of Israel and the massacres in Gaza over the last 4 weeks has done more to “radicalise” people than this boogie monster of radicalisation that it uses to periodically scare the community and divert attention away from the reality.

The Islamic community is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. We will no longer stand by and be treated as the demon used by political parties for their own gains. The sooner all politicians come to terms with this the sooner we can have genuine engagement.

Ghaith Krayem
Secretary, Islamic Council of Victoria

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Comments

Comment from Ross
Time August 12, 2014 at 7:25 am

The terrorism laws are all about controlling we the people when the next big financial collapse happens or when the USA get their wish of picking a war with Russia and China.

Comment from Kay
Time August 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

“Ghaith Krayem, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said in a statement, “The Islamic community is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. We will no longer stand by and be treated as the demon used by political parties for their own gains.”” A bit rich, in my view!!

Actually, what most Australians citizens are hoping to see one day is an outright condemnation of the barbaric butchery of ISIS, and outright condemnation of Fundamentalist Islamic terrorism as a whole. I think we will be waiting!!

But the Islamic community is prepared to get together and condemn the “sacking” (actually he resigned) of Mike Carlton. Carlton’s downfall was not his article, nor even the ill-chosen cartoon, but his appalling replies to those who wrote to him. It seems to me the Muslim community is so taken with its self-perceived ‘victim’ status that it losses sight of the big picture altogether.

Comment from Kay
Time August 13, 2014 at 5:55 am

Ross

What is MSM?

Your link didn’t work. Nothing to access.

Comment from Kay
Time August 13, 2014 at 6:07 am

John

Did you delete my posting yesterday?

“This is a complete reversal of the burden of proof and a scandal of the highest order.” Really? I agree that reversing the onus of proof is deplorable, and I too oppose it here. But I also thought it was deplorable when, in 2013, Labor proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act. On the other hand, you fully supported Labor’s amendments which included a reversal of the onus of proof.

At least I am consistent with my opposition to the reversal of the onus of proof in any situation. You are very selective. If it looks like some right wingers might be caught up by the proposed laws, you are all for it. If it looks like your beloved Muslims might be caught up, you are outraged! At least try to be consistent.

Comment from John
Time August 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

Mainstream Media.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time August 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

Now that he is an Australian citizen, I would expect that Mohammed Yusuf would consider that all Australians were now his people and that he would leave the struggles of the country he rejected behind him.

Having said that, I would be very reluctant to support Tony Abbott’s new ideas on anti-terrorism. A major newspaper here in Brisbane has had all of the racist and anti-religious zealots out in force calling for the equivalent of a Jihad on terrorists. Does that not make them terrorists themselves?

I think it could be successfully argued that the UN is pro-terrorism as it is a primary driver of their agenda to redistribute populations and wealth, create racial and religious disharmony everywhere, and then outlaw religion and any other differences altogether.

I believe their aim is to create an homogeneous international society which is raceless, religionless and genderless, also universally poverty stricken, with all democratic processes taken away.

This is why we are seeing both state and federal governments now making repeated attacks on the cornerstones of democracy e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association….an agenda being pursued by both Labor and Liberals. Surprise, surprise, the same parties which have signed over 7000 international agreements since the end of World War II.

I think Obama and others from the western world also want to create a new war over oil. Various wars being fought in the Middle East and former states of the USSR are likely to be the forerunners of a new Northern Europe Economic Union.

The formation of up to 7 economic unions throughout the world will bring to fruition the UN/Greens/Capitalist agenda.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time August 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

Looking at another part of the issue, I think we are seeing the downside of multiculturalism in action. It is fairly clear that some people from other cultures do not wish to assimilate into the Australian community. I can understand that they may be unhappy about barbaric events occurring in their homelands, but once they come to Australia, they need to leave this kind of problem behind them.

As we know, the Australian Constitution is based on Judaeo-Christian principles. If people cannot accept the Australian way of life, they should not come here.

As far as I’m concerned, there are too many government and media “attacks” on mainstream Christianity without worse problems emerging.

I dislike terms such as:

. homophobic
. Islamophobic
. racist
. bigot

being used to describe people expressing different views. I consider it a form of vilification.

As for Land Rights, I would like all Australians to have exactly the same rights and responsibilities. I don’t care if they consider themselves indigenous, Anglo-Saxon, Middle Eastern or any other discriminatory classification.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time August 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

I think both Labor and Liberal governments do actually demonise the Muslim community and try to blame them for various actions, such as the removal of all religious icons from the chapels in hospitals, and ceasing to sing Christmas carols in preschools for fear of offending someone of another faith.

I think we should try to remain in touch with the fact that there is a global UN agenda to wipe out religion altogether, and that Christians, Jews and Muslims should cease fighting one another and instead unite to face the real enemy or villain of the piece/peace ….Greens…. and the people they are working for.