So sedition’s staying? The Agereports
today that the NSW and Queensland premiers have joined Steve Bracks criticising the planned new
measures: “NSW’s Morris
Iemma said the wording should be tightened, while Queensland’s Peter
Beattie said he was concerned the sedition provisions ‘will impose restrictions
on free speech which aren’t intended’.

“ACT Chief Minister
Jon Stanhope said it was ‘an assault on the right of Australians to engage in
political debate’… But Prime
Minister John Howard said that under the legislation ‘people can still attack
me and Mr Beazley and lampoon us … without any fear of being put in the
slammer.’ The Government has said it would look at the wording next year, but
would not alter it before the bill was passed. Howard said he didn’t believe the sedition provision needed tightening.

That’s what he
claims the free speech implications are. But what does a state of fear do for
the economy? There’s already
been talk of softer Christmas retail spending. Are higher petrol prices swallowing
up our cash? Yet petrol prices
can be anticipated. Fear and uncertainty and their affect on the economy are
far more intangible. Is the Government making things worse here?

John Howard’s administration has bought
levels of trust to such an ebb that reasonable people – not just the grassy
knoll brigade – believe that the government is using our security organisations
as political, not just police, agencies. No one would be surprised if the government milked their work for political gain.

Political gain – but what does it do for
the economy? The answer’s simple. You put off spending and investment decisions
in times of trouble. Yet that still may help the politics. The
deeper the atmosphere of crisis, the more the resonance of the Government’s