Let’s ignore ignorance

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Razer’s Class Warfare: like Emma Watson, downvote Lambie, and make yourself feel better” (yesterday). I largely agree with Helen Razer’s analysis in this brilliant piece, but my outrage in relation to Lambie is not related to what she says or does but that it gets ANY media attention at all. It’s like giving a schoolyard barney national headlines. OK, that’s part of the long-tail era, but it’s hardly about diversity. Journalists everywhere — use your power! And loudly ignore ignorance wherever you encounter it.

On debt

William Fettes writes: Re. “The state of France’s economy” (yesterday). While Paul Sloan is certainly “on the money” in noting how recent economic history has underscored the value of a sovereign currency, in my opinion his formulation of the issues concedes too much ground to the niche school of Modern Monetary Theory in saying no limits apply to debt. It is enough to say there are no universal rules about the size of public debt that can be accumulated in an issuing currency. Importantly, this is not the same thing as saying public debt over the economic cycle doesn’t matter, or that concerns over measures such as debt-to-GDP are irrelevant. Moreover, it remains an open question whether common currency zones can work across disparate economies if they are accompanied by adequate accession compliance and fiscal policy integration — something notably absent in the case of the eurozone.


Jonathan Holmes writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: what are the new anti-terror laws and how do they work?” (yesterday). Preventative detention orders do not “allow senior AFP officers to detain suspected terrorists for questioning”. One of the main limitations of PDOs, from the security services’ point of view is that they are specifically forbidden to question people detained under PDOs. That’s one of the reasons they have been used so seldom.

In the document about PDOs on the Attorney-General’s website, to which you link, one of the Rights under a PDO listed is, specifically the right “not to be questioned”.

Section 4.1 of the Australian Human Rights Commission document to which you link is not about PDOs but about police powers to arrest and question terrorist suspects without charge — quite different from the preventative detention orders. The main difference is to arrest and question suspects, police must have reasonable grounds for believing that they have committed a terrorism offence, whereas PDOs can be granted by a judge where police suspect someone may commit a terrorism offence in the near future.

Of course this is precisely the point that Liberal MP Jason Wood, formerly of Victoria Police anti-terrorism squad, has been making — he wants the law changed so that police can question suspects detained under PDOs. Bret Walker SC says better abolish PDOs and rely on powers of arrest instead.

Crikey writes: We apologise for the error; it has been amended on the website.