While the PM successfully stoked our terror paranoia yesterday,
we took a closer look at the Government’s proposed terror laws. And there are
some quite extraordinary features. Take the final clause in Section

…seditious intention means an intention to
effect any of the following purposes:

(a) to bring the Sovereign into
hatred or contempt;

(b) to urge disaffection against the

(i) the Constitution; (ii) the Government of the
Commonwealth; (iii) either House of the Parliament;

That’s right,
all that’s required to have offended under this section is to urge

It could be argued that the British Royal family
themselves are in continual and consistent breach of these provisions – but
Prince Charles aside, anyone at all who proposes change to any of the
institutions and argues for those changes could be charged with sedition.

Think of all the Republicans who could be charged. Malcolm
Turnbull, Eddie McGuire and all the ARM mob,
watch out!

The point is, of course, to threaten and silence and remove
the troublesome opponent. That ultimately the charges might not stick is
irrelevant – few can afford to have their lives turned upside down to fight a
legal battle against the government, let alone have access to the resources
needed to defend themselves.

So most remain silent – to be safe and to keep their families
and friends safe from vexatious prosecution.

There can be little doubt about the timing of Howard’s sudden
and spectacular announcement on the “urgent and imminent” need to amend the
terrorism laws. He said that the government had received the advice “this
week.” So Howard could have announced it on Monday or Tuesday, or for that
matter on Thursday along with the recall of the Senate that day.

He was
happy to wait 24 hours for the Senate to pass it, so a day either way was
clearly not the issue. What was important was to have the IR horror
headlines replaced with the terror bogeyman. And it worked a

What is now interesting is that the veracity and apolitical nature of
this claim will now be contestable. Labor has said that it will allow
the changes to pass today in both Houses.

We must then see what action is taken by the security agencies to
use that amendment and how quickly they take it. Of course they might simply say
they can’t tell us, as usual – but the likely type of action will be indicated
by the amending Bill when it is presented to the Parliament.

Given the
actions will be taken under existing law, they should be more visible than
future actions will be under the proposed legislation. If there is no advice
given to the public about this specific threat and the action taken to prevent
it, how do we ever measure the success of the agencies and the law?

will need to see who was arrested and with what they are charged. We need to see
that within weeks at least – if it really is “urgent and imminent” then we
should see results in days.

Don’t hold your