Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Beware The Secret State - Part Three. Abbott Government to allow ASIO and federal police to 'creepy crawl' our homes

It was in the late 1960s that Australia became familiar with the term creepy crawl* which meant stealthily entering a home unbeknownst to its occupants.

The 23 September 2014 media release below from Australian Attorney-General George Brandis demonstrates that this same hostile act is about to become part of federal law** in this country. Along with arrest without warrant and preventative detention based on nothing more than a police or ASIO officer’s paranoid suspicion.

The new legislation also extends the government of the day’s ability to declare action on the part of any person or organisation as advocating or doing a terrorist act and, before readers pooh pooh that idea they might like to recall how easily (and without cause) those Victorian mums and dads in the Port Phillip Bay Blue Wedge Coalition were included on what was effectively a U.S. international ecoterrorism watch list.

*   Manson Family killings in the United States.
**  Delayed Notification Search Warrant - a concept borrowed from United States legislation and a form of warrant the Howard Government failed to have Parliament pass in 2006-07



Today I am releasing the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill which I will introduce into the Senate tomorrow (24 September 2014).  The Bill will then be referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for review.

The suite of reforms in this Bill address the most pressing gaps in our counter-terrorism legislative framework.  Measures are focused on the prevention and disruption of domestic terrorist threats.
The escalating security crisis in Iraq and Syria poses an increasing threat to Australia. The Government is particularly concerned about Australians who travel to conflict zones and return to Australia with skills and intentions acquired from fighting or training with proscribed terrorist groups. 
Australia’s intelligence agencies estimate there are around 60 Australians involved directly in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, with around 100 providing support roles in Australia.
The Government’s comprehensive review of Australia’s national security and counter-terrorism legislation showed that it does not sufficiently address the emerging and unique domestic security threats posed by the return of Australians who have participated in foreign conflicts, trained with extremist groups, or people in Australia who provide support to those who may seek to do us harm.

In order to tighten existing laws to combat these threats, the Bill will:
* create new offences for ‘advocating terrorism’ and for entering or remaining in a ‘declared zone’;
* broaden the criteria and streamline the process for the listing of terrorist organisations;
* extend instances in which a control order may be sought; extend the sunsetting provisions of the preventative detention order and control order regimes; and include a sunset clause for the ‘declared zone’ offence;
* provide certain law enforcement agencies with additional tools needed to investigate, arrest and prosecute those supporting foreign conflicts;
* limit the means of travel for foreign fighting or support for foreign fighters; and
* strengthen protections at Australia’s borders.

The Government has engaged in extensive consultation with Australia’s national security agencies, State and Territory governments, the Opposition, Senate crossbenchers, and community leaders and representatives in the development of these important measures.

The Government thanks all the stakeholders and acknowledges the Opposition’s constructive and supportive approach towards the implementation of necessary reforms to Australia’s national security legislation.

Given the importance of this legislation, and the fact that it bears directly on the safety of the public, I call upon the Labor Party to expedite its passage through the Parliament without any unnecessary delay.

23 July 2014


New Offences

* New offence of entering, or remaining in a ‘declared area’
A new offence will provide that if a person travels, or remains in, a declared area where terrorist organisations engage in hostile activity, the person is assumed to be engaging in hostile activities with that terrorist organisation. An area will be declared where the Foreign Affairs Minister is satisfied that a terrorist organisation listed under the Criminal Code is engaging in a hostile activity in a particular area of the foreign country. The new offence will enable the prosecution of people who intentionally enter an area in a foreign State where they know, or should know, that the Australian Government has determined that terrorist organisations are engaging in hostile activities and the person is not able to demonstrate a sole legitimate reason for entering, or remaining in, the foreign State.
This new offence will be subject to a 10 year sunset clause.  

* New offence of ‘advocating terrorism’
The Bill introduces the offence ‘advocating terrorism’. A person commits an offence if they intentionally counsel, promote, encourage or urge the doing of a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Terrorist organisations – listings and offences
* authorise the Attorney-General to add, remove or alter aliases of a listed terrorist organisation, where satisfied the alias or aliases are those of the listed terrorist organisation
* broaden the terrorist organisation listing criteria in relation to advocacy
* expand the relevant training offence to include participating in training with a terrorist organisation

Control orders
* include additional criteria for control orders where:
 the person has engaged in armed hostilities in a foreign state
 the person has been convicted of a terrorism offence
* amend the criteria for control orders on training grounds to include participating in training with a terrorist organisation, in alignment with the proposed amendment to the training offence
* make the threshold for an AFP applicant to request a control order consistent across all criteria as ‘suspects on reasonable grounds’
* require the AFP member serving an order on a person to advise the person of appeal/review rights
* insert a maximum curfew period of 12 hours within a 24 hour period for curfew conditions
* allow AFP to use telecommunications interception, under warrant, to investigate the breach of a control order

Preventative detention orders
* enable applications for initial preventative detention orders and prohibited contact orders to be made orally or electronically in urgent circumstances
* require that the AFP applicant must ‘suspect on reasonable grounds’, the matters set out in the issuing criteria
* provide that a person must be satisfied that it is ‘reasonably necessary’ to detain the subject for one of the purposes listed
* provide for orders to be made where the person’s full name is not known provided the person can be identified

Sunset provisions
* provide for the continuation of the control order and preventative detention order regimes in the Criminal Code Act 1995 and certain powers relevant to the investigation of terrorism related offences in the Crimes Act 1914 for a further 10 years beyond 2015, and the questioning and detention warrant regimes in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 beyond July 2016

ASIO’s questioning warrant powers
* create a new offence for destroying or tampering with a record or thing to prevent its production under a questioning warrant and make other appropriate enhancements to the regime

Search warrants
* introduce a delayed notification search warrant scheme—with appropriate safeguards and limits—to allow a search warrant to be executed without the knowledge of the occupier of the premises to ensure suspects are not immediately alerted to the investigation

Arrest threshold
* reduce the arrest threshold for terrorism offences (including foreign incursions offences) to ‘suspects’ on reasonable grounds

Admission of foreign evidence
* allow courts greater flexibility to admit material obtained from overseas in terrorism related proceedings, providing that the material was not obtained as a result of torture or duress

Persons of security concern
* ensure welfare payments can be terminated for people who have been assessed as a serious threat to Australia’s national security where the person’s visa or passport has been cancelled
* improve the ability of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to request the cancellation of a visa based on security concerns and introduce a power to suspend Australian passports and seize foreign passports for 14 days
* remove the requirement to immediately notify an individual of the cancellation of a passport to avoid alerting the individual to the existence of an investigation

Border security
* enhance border security by ensuring certain biometric information can be appropriately obtained, retained and used
* address shortcomings in the current powers of Customs officers under the Customs Act 1901 to detain persons of interest, and to introduce a new set of circumstances in which a person may be
detained by a Customs officer in a designated place (such as an airport)
* better support the use of automated border processing technology (known as e-Gate) to collect and retain personal identifiers of citizens and non-citizens in immigration clearance or upon departure, and to permit the disclosure of that information, and
*require air and sea carriers to provide information in advance on departing travellers through an approved reporting system.

Other amendments
* create consistency in the definition of ‘terrorist act’ across a number of Acts
* amend the definition of a ‘terrorist offence’ in a range of Acts to include foreign incursions and treason offences and offences against Part 4 of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 and Part 5 of * that Act insofar as it relates to terrorism—providing that certain powers in those Acts can be used in relation to these offences
* list the Attorney-General’s Department as a designated agency under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 to allow the department to more efficiently and effectively * develop and implement policy around terrorism financing risks, and ensure a more holistic approach to the Government’s foreign fighters national security response


Who do you blame if the mounting hyper-spin on a 'terror threat' to Australia goes terribly wrong?

Who do you blame if tensions between different religious or ethnic groups (including natural-born Australians) rise dramatically, racially-inspired violence occurs or a ‘pay-back’ incident results in death and destruction because the Abbott Government is intent on making society both alert and alarmed over as yet unproven domestic terrorist plot/s allegedly instigated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organisation?

The following politicians are a good starting point:

Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott (Chair)
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals MP for Wide Bay Warren Truss (Deputy Chair)
Foreign Minister and Liberal MP for Curtin Julie Bishop
Attorney-General and Liberal Senator George Brandis
Treasurer and Liberal MP for North Sydney Joe Hockey
Minister for Defence and Liberal Senator David Johnston
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison
Minister for Finance and Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann (Member Co-optee as required)

Along with a number of National security agencies in this list:

Australia’s response to terrorism relies on strong and cooperative relationships between the Australian Government and the states and territories.
Our national security agencies have well-defined responsibilities and the authority to detect, prevent and respond to acts of terrorism in Australia. Terrorist incidents involving Australian interests outside Australia are in the first instance dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The roles and responsibilities of Australia’s national security agencies and authorities are listed below.

The Australian Government:
maintains counter-terrorism capabilities and national coordination arrangements within its agencies (listed below) maintains national policies, legislation and plans determines Australian Government prevention strategies and operational responses to threats supports the states and territories in responding to terrorist situations in their jurisdictions
can, where the nature of the incident warrants it and with the agreement of the affected states and territories, declare a national terrorist situation. In such a situation the Australian Government would determine policies and broad strategies in close consultation with affected states or territories.

The Prime Minister takes the lead role in Australian Government counter-terrorism policy coordination.
The Attorney-General, supported by the National Security Committee of Cabinet and other ministers, is responsible for operational coordination on national security issues.
The Attorney-General’s Department coordinates national security and crisis management arrangements and provides legislative advice.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia’s national security intelligence service. Its main role is to gather information and produce intelligence so that it can warn the government about activities or situations that might endanger Australia's national security.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service manages the security and integrity of Australia’s borders. It works closely with other government and international agencies to detect and deter unlawful movement of goods and people across the border.
The Australian Defence Force maintains capabilities that can assist civil authorities in emergencies.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigates national  terrorist offences provides overseas liaison and protective services and performs a state policing function in the ACT. The AFP Protective Service provides physical protection services in relation to foreign embassies and certain government facilities, and also counter-terrorism first response at major airports.
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) is Australia’s overseas secret intelligence collection agency. Its primary goal is to obtain and distribute secret intelligence about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia, which may impact on Australia's interests and the well-being of Australian citizens.
Border Protection Command provides security for Australia's offshore maritime areas. Combining the resources and expertise of the Australian Customs Service and the Department of Defence, and working with officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, and other Australian, state and territory agencies, it delivers a coordinated national approach to Australia's offshore maritime security.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) aims to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. It works with Australia’s allies and partners to confront terrorism and to enhance international counter-terrorism cooperation. It provides advice about specific security threats abroad for people travelling overseas and provides consular services to Australians living abroad . It also provides information in relation to the protection of foreign dignitaries.
The Department of Health leads a whole-of-government approach to strengthening Australia’s readiness for disease threats, national health emergencies and other large scale health incidents.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection maintains the Movement Alert List and enforces Australia’s visa regime. It is also actively engaged in a number of international data-accessing initiatives aimed at preventing the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups and has responsibility for border control.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet coordinates Australian Government counter-terrorism policy in collaboration with intelligence agencies and the states and territories. It also  provides the secretariat for the Secretaries Committee on National Security and the National Security Committee of Cabinet. It co-chairs and provides the secretariat for the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) and advises the Prime Minister on matters related to counter-terrorism.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development regulates the security of airports, airlines, sea ports and other forms of transport, with state and territory authorities.
The Office of National Assessments assesses and analyses international political, strategic and economic developments for the Prime Minister and senior ministers in the National Security Committee of Cabinet.

* The entire Abbott Government Cabinet Ministers are listed here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Identifying the real terrorists?

One letter to the editor in The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 September 2018 slyly identifies those terrorizing Australia.........

Image found at 

Metgasco Limited circles the wagons and hopes forthcoming court case will order compensation?

Coal seam-tight gas exploration and wannabee production company Metgasgo Limited - having first failed to convince the NSW Government that it had fully lived up to the terms of its PEL16 exploration licence and then apparently failed to convince that same government to voluntarily hand over $120 million in go away money compensation because there was no possibility of it extracting any commercial gas from its Northern Rivers tenements in the foreseeable future - appears to be reordering its books to maximise the dollar potential with regard to hoped for court-ordered compensation once legal proceedings have wended their way through the state legal system.

Excerpt from Metgasco media release, 19 September 2014:

Asset update

Metgasco Limited (ASX: MEL) announces that in light of the uncertainty arising from the political environment in New South Wales and its impact on the business environment for energy exploration and production companies, the Board of Metgasco has:

      * formally assessed the amount of capitalised exploration and evaluation expenditure included as an asset on the Company’s balance sheet, and has determined as a matter of prudent judgement that this amount should be impaired to nil; and

      * decided to reclassify its gas reserves as resources.

Commenting on the asset impairment and reserves reclassification, Metgasco’s Managing Director, Mr Peter Henderson said: “The Board fully considered these accounting matters and considered that the changes are appropriate to properly reflect the state of Metgasco’s New South Wales business interests.  The Company’s current share price indicates that the financial market has already recognised the New South Wales political climate and its effects on Metgasco.  Despite the asset impairment and reserves reclassification, Metgasco remains committed to pursuing the significant gas potential in its New South Wales exploration licences.”……

Australia's pre-decimal currency

Backward Glances, which appears daily in Grafton's Daily Examiner, is a very popular column with the paper's readers. The column contains snippets of news that appeared in the Examiner 50 years ago.

However, Monday 22 September's Backward Glances had readers scratching their heads about the currency Australians used prior to 14 February 1966.

Perhaps The Examiner has an Austrian on the pay roll.

Images from the digital edition of The Daily Examiner, 22/09/14

Monday, 22 September 2014

How one group of regional newspapers rated Tony Abbott's performance since 18 September 2013

Image by John Graham /
Independent Australia 19 January 2014

The Daily Examiner 18 September 2013:

How APN regional media rated Tony Abbott's performance in the past year out of 10:

The average score was 3 out of 10 across newspapers in New South Wales and Queensland published by APN Regional Media.

* Sunshine Coast Daily 3
* Coffs Coast Advocate 2
* The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 3
* Gympie Times 3
* Warwick Daily News 5
* Queensland Times (Ipswich) 1
* Toowoomba Chronicle 4
* Fraser Coast Chronicle 4
* Bundaberg News Mail 4
* Mackay Daily Mercury 4
* Gladstone Observer 2
* Northern Star (Lismore) 2
* Daily Examiner (Grafton) 4
* Tweed Daily News 3

Disposal problems with waste water from coal-bed methane wells in the U.S.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

David Marr's list of how our rights are faring under 'Freedom Abbott'

In this September’s issue of The Monthly David Marr discusses Values Abbott, Politics Abbott and Freedom Abbott and sets out this list of how basic rights are faring under Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott since 18 September 2014:

10 October 2013: The state and territory attorneys-general meet in Sydney without discussing shield laws. The issue was on the agenda. With the change of government it vanished. It hasn’t appeared since. Efforts begun under Gillard to introduce uniform national laws to give effective protection to journalists and their sources have ceased.
25 October: Scott Morrison first utters the phrase “on water operations” to justify the unprecedented secrecy that surrounds the Abbott government’s blockade of refugee boats. Morrison whittles away the few rights and freedoms left to those caught up in Operation Sovereign Borders.
2 December: Brandis authorises an ASIO raid on the Canberra office of Bernard Collaery, the lawyer representing East Timor in its dispute with Australia over the Timor Sea Treaty. In March this year, the International Court of Justice at The Hague orders Australia to seal the material seized and keep it from all officials involved in the dispute. The order is binding.
3 December: Abbott rages against the ABC and the “left-wing” Guardian for together reporting that Australian spy agencies had targeted the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife. “The ABC seemed to delight in broadcasting allegations by a traitor,” he later told Ray Hadley of the Sydney radio station 2GB. “This gentleman Snowden, or this individual Snowden, who has betrayed his country and in the process has badly, badly damaged other countries that are friends of the United States, and of course the ABC didn’t just report what he said, they took the lead in advertising what he said.”

11 December: Brandis announces terms of reference for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s audit of Commonwealth laws that compromise freedom. The terms’ focus is not individual liberty but “commercial and corporate regulation; environmental regulation; and workplace relations”. Free speech barely makes the list. Brandis tells the Australian Financial Review he is most perturbed by the “reversal of the onus of proof, the creation of strict liability offences, the removal of lawyer–client privilege and removal of rights against self-incrimination”. It reads like a list of everything tax evaders loathe about the law.

17 December: Brandis appoints the policy director of the IPA, Tim Wilson, to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Wilson’s mission is to restore balance to a body which the attorney-general believes “has become increasingly narrow and selective in its view of human rights” under Labor. This is code for the culture war complaint that the left is manipulating anti-discrimination laws to impose its moral agenda on a reluctant society. The Bolt case is a particular focus of the fear that protecting blacks, gays, foreigners and cripples from discrimination is stripping the rest of us of our freedom.
29 January 2014: Abbott blasts the ABC for reporting claims that Australian military personnel have punished asylum seekers by burning their hands. “I think it dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everyone’s side but our own,” says the prime minister. “You shouldn’t leap to be critical of your own country.” News Ltd joins the attack. The ABC falters. Its managing director, Mark Scott, apologises for imprecise wording in the original report, but three days later, Fairfax’s man in Indonesia, Michael Bachelard, finds asylum seeker Yousif Ibrahim Fasher: “He says he has no doubt that what he saw at close quarters on about January 3 was three people’s hands being deliberately held to a hot exhaust pipe by Australian naval personnel to punish them for protesting, and to deter others from doing one simple thing: going to the toilet too often.”
6 March: Abbott threatens to cut the ABC’s budget if it doesn’t cave in to Chris Kenny. The Chaser team had crudely photoshopped the head of the News Ltd pundit onto a man with his pants down mounting a labradoodle. Kenny sued for $90,000. Missing in action is Abbott’s defence of lively debate where “offence will be given, facts will be misrepresented”. He tells 2GB’s Ben Fordham the ABC should settle the case or else: “Government money should be spent sensibly and defending the indefensible is not a very good way to spend government money. Next time the ABC comes to the government looking for more money, this is the kind of thing that we would want to ask questions about.” The ABC buckles. Kenny gets an apology and cash.
13 March: Brandis decrees artists who refuse private sponsorship on political grounds may be stripped of public funding. Troubled by Transfield’s links to offshore detention centres, a handful of artists had pressured the company to withdraw sponsorship from the Sydney Biennale. Brandis asks: “If the Sydney Biennale doesn’t need Transfield’s money, why should they be asking for ours?” He directs the Australia Council to find a formula for deciding when public funding will be withdrawn because private sponsorship has been “unreasonably” rejected. He does not rule out compelling arts organisations to take tobacco money. Months later, the council is still labouring over the words. However it’s done, Brandis wants artists to know they will pay a price for embarrassing the government. This threatens direct political intervention for the first time in the allocation of Australia Council funds.
24 March: Brandis tells Senator Nova Peris: “People do have a right to be bigots, you know.” The next day, he releases draft legislation to gut sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. Abbott backs him. The proposal – drafted by Brandis himself – would allow almost unrestrained racist abuse in the name of freedom. Ethnic community leaders lobby for the act to be left as it is. Polls swiftly show nine out of ten Australians disapprove of the changes. Three-quarters of the 4100 submissions received by Brandis’ department are hostile. The department blocks their release.

23 May: Morrison strips the Refugee Council of Australia of half a million dollars allocated in the budget only ten days before. The minister explains: “It’s not my view, or the government’s view, that taxpayer funding should be there for what is effectively an advocacy group.” The CEO of the council, Paul Power, calls the cuts petty and vindictive. “This in many ways illustrates the state of the relationship between the non-government sector – particularly organisations working on asylum issues – and the government at the moment.”
1 July: Community legal centres across Australia are also forbidden to use Commonwealth money for advocacy or to campaign for law reform. During the Labor years, funding for NGOs had come with the guarantee that they were free “to enter into public debate or criticism of the Commonwealth, its agencies, employees, servants or agents”. Under Abbott, the guarantee disappears. So do many sources of independent advice. The budgets of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Environmental Defender’s Offices and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples are slashed. Axed are the Social Inclusion Board, the National Housing Supply Council, the National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing, the National Children and Family Roundtable, the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, and the committee of independent medicos advising the refugee detention network, the Immigration Health Advisory Group.
16 July: Brandis threatens laws to double the sentence for reporting “special intelligence operations” by ASIO. Whistleblowers would not be protected, and journalists would not even need to know the operations were “special” to find themselves in prison for up to a decade. No public interest defence would be available. The shadow attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, says: “We will not tolerate legislation which exposes journalists to criminal sanction for doing their important work, work that is vital to upholding the public’s right to know.”
4 August: Twenty-two-year-old student Freya Newman, a former part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute of Design, is charged with unauthorised access to restricted data following reports of Frances Abbott’s scholarship, after complaints to the police by the institute. The chair of the institute is Liberal Party donor and friend of the prime minister Les Taylor.
5 August: Abbott announces the metadata of all Australians is to be kept by internet service providers for two years and made available to ASIO and police. That trawl will, of course, include the metadata of whistleblowers and journalists. He abandons at the same time his two-year crusade to amend the Racial Discrimination Act. Both moves he justifies in the light of terrorist outrages by Australian nationals in Syria. “When it comes to counter-terrorism, everyone needs to be part of ‘Team Australia’,” he says, “and I have to say that the government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have become a complication in that respect. I don’t want to do anything that puts our national unity at risk at this time, and so those proposals are now off the table.”