Remember Scott Parkin: the American political activist, in
Australia on a six month visa, who was arrested in Melbourne
on the 10th of September last year – where
he was going to speak on non-violent activism against the Iraq
war – detained and then deported five days later after ASIO and the Department
of Immigration determined he was a security risk?

Well, today his curious case
is being reopened, by way of a directions hearing in Melbourne’s
Federal Court at 9.30am this morning. Through his lawyers, Parkin is
to win the right to review the basis on which his visa was withdrawn
and to clear his name.

Parkin, now safe and sound back in America,
has always maintained he has no idea why he was deported or why he would be considered a security risk. Actually, no
one really seems to know. And those who do – Federal Attorney-General Philip
the Minister for Immigration Amanda Vanstone,
Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, seem satisfied not to comment on the

With the exception of The
‘s Greg Sheridan, who commented with some authority in a front
page article (“Deported activist was to teach tactics of violence,” 22 September
2005, not online), co-authored by John Kerin, that Parkin planned to
“instruct demonstrators in tactics including disabling police horses and
springing arrested protesters from custody.”

The 36-year-old American teacher vigorously denied these charges, which were, apparently, leaked to Sheridan. “I
am a student of mass social movements in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and
Martin Luther King Jnr and I think that these movements have shown us the way
to achieve positive social change,” he said in a statement on the day he
was deported.

Will we ever know the truth behind this saga?
That remains to be seen. But it’s good to know that there are people
still working to find out.