Heavily armed policeman

I always figured it couldn't happen here. There was something about Australians and our collective personality that made it impossible. As it turns out, there isn't anything special about Australians. We were kidding ourselves. Doubtless plenty of Americans are undergoing the same disillusionment about their own compatriots right now, too.

To say that Australia is heading toward a police state sounds absurd, the claim of a bug-eyed conspiracy theorist -- to say it not as a rhetorical flourish or partisan abuse, but as a statement of fact, a description of the road we have travelled so far. And yet, here we are. We're not China. We're not even Singapore. Yet we are becoming a specific kind of police state, in which the government hands itself ever more power to prevent scrutiny, deter and punish whistleblowers, smear opponents and hide its wrongdoing, using legal framework justified in the name of national security. We're becoming a nation where embarrassing the government, or revealing its misconduct, has become a dangerous occupation. Perhaps police state is less accurate than an anti-dissent state.