A map of massacres of Indigenous communities in Australian history

We’ve received many emails over the past day or so decrying the words of one particular senator whose inflammatory first speech has driven the news cycle this week. Below is a small taste of them along with a fresh view on new anti-privacy legislation.

On the extreme and racist speech in the Senate on Tuesday

Judy Bamberger writes: In the very first minute of his maiden speech, Senator Anning extolled the morals and values of the British colonisers.  Once those first colonisers subjugated, transferred, and eliminated Indigenous peoples, there could never be “common threads of inherited identity that unite its people.” 

The senator incorrectly asserted, “[t]he first terrorist act on Australian soil was in 1915” – the Battle of Broken Hill.  The first terrorist acts were, in fact, numerous Anglo-and Christian-led massacres of Indigenous Australians – violence enacted for political gain.

The senator’s good Christians denied the first Australians their rights as “ordinary working people”:  “the right to expect a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, to keep what they have worked for, to get ahead and have a decent life” — the basic rights of citizenship.

The senator asserted, “a great nation can only be the consequence of the people it comprises.”  If he meant white-Anglo-Christians, he will need to expel many of us, including:  MP Katter himself (Lebanese), Senators Abetz (German), Ciobo (Italian, Ottoman Albanian), Cormann (Belgian), Frydenberg (stateless Holocaust survivor), Gichuhi (Kenyan), Goodenough (Portuguese, Malaysian Chinese), Seselja (Croatian, then-Yugoslav), Sinodinos (Greek), Wyatt (Indigenous, Indian) … to name a few now part of the “unsustainable” “flood [of immigrants] into Australia” — themselves, parents, or grandparents.

In 2014, then-Attorney General, Senator Brandis asserted, “People do have a right to be bigots you know.”  Congratuations; the senate just welcomed its latest bigot.

Syed Janud writes: I did not think it was possible, but in his maiden speech, Senator Anning has managed to outdo Pauline Hanson.

In doing so, he has offended and undermined the contributions of Australian Jews, Muslims and the Aboriginal people of Australia.

As an Ahmadi Muslim I invite him to visit one of our mosques and learn firsthand what true Islam teaches. Our doors are always open.

STGA writes: It would be very pleasing to see an article about draconian surveillance laws where the mainstream media, including Crikey, did not use a journalist as the example of misuse of the law.  This self-reflecting hubris is endemic in the Australian mainstream media.

Here’s a hint: journalists are not the only examples of people who have legitimate need to protect data from over-reaching agencies and government.

I’d also recommend you consider the example of an individual who protects a file, say of archived financial records, then forgets or misplaces the password. For whatever reason, let’s say the ATO demands it, or Centrelink believes the file contains data relevant to an audit (maybe even not of that specific individual), and demands access.

The individual genuinely cannot remember the password.  Result: ten years jail.  I see nothing in the Act that robustly gives a defense in this situation.

This is one of the worst laws to be tabled in the Australian parliament.  Although our excuse for a constitution provides no right to silence, it is implicit as a basis for criminal codes across the country.  It’s fascinating that we’re basically reversing that, by creating a class of compelled speech, without considering the actual impact of this approach.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and cock-ups to [email protected]. We reserve the right to edit comments for length and clarity. Please include your full name.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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