Barnyard has had some wins on IR – but sedition is staying.

AAP is reporting
this morning that the government has ruled out scrapping controversial
sedition provisions within its anti-terror laws, offering only minor
changes instead:

Civil libertarians, media organisations and a Senate
committee have called for the sedition section of the anti-terror bill
to be removed.

Under it, anyone convicted of urging a group to use force or violence
against another group could be jailed for up to seven years.

But after a meeting with coalition backbenchers last night, Prime
Minister John Howard said the sedition provisions would remain.

“The sedition provisions will remain, although there are a couple of amendments in relation to them,” he told reporters.

“There are some other amendments, particularly picking up a lot of the recommendations that came out of the Senate committee…”

Well, despite what the PM’s own colleagues on the Senate committee
said, the sunset clause on the measure will remain at 10 years, while
the sedition rules will be subject to a review after five years. The
laws are expected to be debated on Monday but could be in the upper
house as early as today.

Queensland Liberal Senator George Brandis – who, Crikey readers will remember, has never knowingly told a lie – told ABC radio
that he remained opposed to the crime of sedition remaining on the
statute books, but said he was satisfied with protections offered by
the government:

I haven’t changed my view, and that’s a view held by a
number of my colleagues, that the sedition laws are an obsolete law,
they’re a blunt instrument to deal with the problem of advocacy of

However, the important thing to remember is that these laws are being comprehensively reviewed in the new year.

It was decided that the wiser course was to leave them be for the time
being, review them next year, but make sure that there was sufficient
protections on freedom of speech in the bill, and that’s now been

So lawyerly logic dictates that we pass a bad law now and look at it later, hey George?

As an antidote to this bosh, readers may care to look at a special seditious issue of The Human Rights Defender.

The Defender is a human rights magazine which features
information and comment on a broad range of current issues in human
rights. It also seeks to provide a platform for the expression of
critical thinking and the discussion of conceptual developments in
human rights.

Normally it don’t come free – but a special online edition on the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No.2) 2005 is up now.