Friday, 19 September 2014

Abbott Government intends to give ASIO the power to use force against Australian citizens

slippery slope
1. a course of action likely to lead to something bad or disastrous

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told the world that he does not intend to go to the UN climate change conference on 23 September 2014 because it was more important that he be in the House of Representatives while some remaining budget measures and national security legislation are debated in both houses – including the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 currently before the Senate.

This particular bill will allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to use force against persons when executing property searches.

Something that under existing legislation ASIO officers apparently have no right to do and, this new muscle rather disturbingly will even be able to be flexed during searches when law enforcement officers are not present.

In exercising this ability to use force, the Abbott Government intends to offer immunity to ASIO officers under s35K of the bill providing they don't kill, seriously injure or sexually assault a person during special intelligence operations - leaving an incredible amount of leeway for adrenalin-charged security personnel to inflict physical punishment.

In its September 2014 advisory report the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has signed off on this new power.

Although the Committee does accept that; If not appropriately constrained, the use of force against persons by ASIO officers could, over time, change the basic premise of the way ASIO operates.

Which would have to rate as the understatement of the year.

Rather optimistically the Abbott Government’s explanatory memorandum accompanying this bill states that it is compatible with internationally recognised human rights and freedoms.

However, the general public are unlikely to be able to test that assertion against circumstances on the ground, as the same bill enables the federal government to prosecute and gaol journalists (for up to five years) if they report on special intelligence operations without permission.

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