"Is this what Australia has come to? Subversion like this should cause the Customs service to hang its head in shame."Back then I was also going to the United States. But that time I was carrying with me some pieces of polypipe, which, if assembled in a certain way, could make a fairly efficient carbon monoxide generator. On that occasion I was leaving Australia to attend a right-to-die conference in San Diego; this time I was off to Mexico for a belated wedding anniversary holiday. And besides, that incident 11 years ago appeared to be a one-off. Yes, the Howard government was in power, and yes, the Customs regulations had, seemingly, been recently changed just for me, making it an offence "absolutely to export a device designed or customised to be used by a person to commit suicide" (s3AA(1)) or a "document that instructs a person how to commit suicide using one of those devices" (s3AA(2)(c)). As we sat in detention this week, we couldn’t help but think about the family of East Timor's Finance Minister Emilia Pires, who were detained upon entering Australia in December. They too were searched for cash, and unlike us they didn't have their phones returned. But the point seemed to be the same. Arbitrary searches are one clear means to harass. In an era where civil liberties are being increasingly eroded, the need for reasonable suspicion, let alone reasonable belief, is disappearing. If the boys in Canberra don't like you, they are all too willing to use the public service to do their dirty bidding for them. In a 2011 profile piece in The Monthly on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, Nick Bryant described Morrison as a "devout Pentecostal". While I've never had dealings with the man, Christianity is often a commonality among my enemies. And anyway, this directive could equally have come from any number within the Abbott cabinet -- not least Eric Abetz or Kevin Andrews or Tony Abbott himself -- all of whom have an intolerance for the message of choice that I advocate. There is lots about Tuesday’s detention that irks me; I've not space to go into it here, other than to say the ombudsman will be hearing from me. But one thing stands out. With the doors of QF93 about to close, we were handed our belongings back and told to get moving. When Fiona asked for the officers' ID numbers or names, one "Officer Raelene" said she could locate the list but we would then miss our flight. Is that what we wanted? Hardly in the spirit of the act. Is this what Australia has come to? Subversion like this should cause the Customs service to hang its head in shame.
Philip Nitschke: my airport detention, for reasons unexplained
Euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke was detained and searched at Melbourne Airport yesterday and not told why. He writes for Crikey about the campaign against him.