Australian anti-terror laws: framework of a police state

By Nick Beams, 1 December 2005

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing today the report by Nick Beams, Socialist Equality Party national secretary, to SEP public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne on November 22 and 29 on the Australian government’s “Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005”.

Australian government insists on sedition clauses in new terrorism legislation

By Mike Head, 2 December 2005

In a highly revealing political decision, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Attorney-General Philip Ruddock have brushed aside a Senate committee’s call for the removal of sweeping sedition provisions from the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005.

Australian government unveils military restructure and new callout powers

By Mike Head, 17 December 2005

At a media conference staged in a Sydney military barracks this week, Prime Minister John Howard and Defence Minister Robert Hill released plans to expand and restructure the Australian armed forces for greater use against civilians, both at home and abroad.

Australian government rejects limits on sedition powers

By Mike Head, 30 September 2006

For the second time in less than a year, the Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has brushed aside key recommendations in an official report calling for limits on the government’s new sedition laws.

Australia: Anti-Muslim “terror plot” unravels

By Mike Head, 11 November 2006

Two weeks ago, at the height of a media witchhunt over a sermon delivered by a Sydney-based Islamic cleric, Murdoch newspapers around the country ran front-page headlines declaring that three Australian Muslims arrested in Yemen last month had been part of a “terror plot” to bomb one of Sydney’s underground train stations, Kings Cross.

Australian High Court sanctions wholesale assault on working conditions

By Mike Head
25 November 2006

Last week’s ruling by the Australian High Court to uphold the Howard government’s WorkChoices industrial relations laws has cleared the way for an escalating attack on workers’ jobs, wages, working conditions and basic rights. By a 5-2 majority, the country’s supreme court dismissed a challenge to the constitutional validity of the laws mounted by several state Labor governments and trade union bodies.

Australia: Police report reveals real instigators of Cronulla race riots

Part 1

By Fergus Michaels
30 November 2006

A five-volume New South Wales police report released last month sheds light on the dangerous and reactionary forces that instigated, and were involved in, Sydney’s “Cronulla Riots” of December 11, 2005. On that day, approximately 5,000 people, mostly young, gathered on Cronulla beach, many draped in the Australian flag. They launched a nationalistic, alcohol- and drug-fuelled pogrom against anyone of Middle Eastern appearance, injuring more than 20 people, two of whom were stabbed.

Australian Wheat Board inquiry: a threadbare whitewash

By Mike Head
9 December 2006

As intended, the Howard government’s official inquiry into the payment of bribes by AWB Ltd, formerly the Australian Wheat Board, to the Saddam Hussein regime produced a whitewash report late last month, designed for several key purposes.

First and foremost was the need to clear Prime Minister John Howard and his leading ministers of any political or criminal responsibility. Another critical concern was to fend off US agricultural interests that are demanding the dismantling of the AWB’s wheat export monopoly as part of a cutthroat trade war. Yet another necessity was to prevent any examination of the motives behind Canberra’s participation in the US occupation of Iraq.

Australia: High Court clears way for expansion of federal power

By Mike Head
20 December 2006

The Australian High Court last month handed down a ruling that opens the door for a major restructuring of the national economic and political framework, accompanied by a further expansion of the federal government’s executive power. While the immediate effect of the decision in New South Wales v Commonwealth of Australia was to uphold the Howard government’s draconian WorkChoices industrial relations laws, the federal cabinet has also been handed almost unlimited power to override state laws, and to rule by executive fiat.

Australia: Labor refashions industrial relations policy to suit big business

By Terry Cook
19 January 2007

Within weeks of winning the leadership of the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard are already moving to refashion industrial relations (IR) policy in line with the demands of big business.

Powerful sections of the corporate elite were concerned at former leader Kim Beazley’s pledge that Labor would “rip up” the Howard government’s WorkChoices legislation if it won the federal election due this year. The issue was an important factor in media support for the Rudd-Gillard challenge to Beazley last December.

Australian court upholds unbridled right to hire and fire

By Terry Cook
30 January 2007

In what the Howard government and employer groups have hailed a “landmark” decision, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) has overturned a successful unfair dismissal claim by Village Roadshow employee Warren Carter, 51.

Australian High Court radically expands scope of military power

By Mike Head, 13 August 2007

Australia’s High Court on August 2 upheld the constitutional validity of a “control order” imposed on a Melbourne worker, Jack Thomas, sanctioning one of the central features of the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act.

Australia: Release of secret reports highlights Labor’s role in boosting spy agencies

By Mike Head, 5 July 2008

The release, 30 years on, of the previously classified reports of the 1974-77 Hope Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security sheds further light on the historic role of Labor governments—past and present—in legitimising and expanding the repressive powers of Australia’s spy and security agencies.

New South Wales state election

SEP candidate prevented from addressing forum on dental health

By our reporters
23 February 2007

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) held a public forum last Tuesday on the subject of public dental health services in New South Wales. While the meeting was billed as an opportunity for dental workers and ordinary people to discuss the appalling state of public dental healthcare, the ADA’s orientation was centrally focussed on pleading with the Labor and Liberal parties for marginally more funding.

SEP opposes exclusion of Noel Holt from Newcastle candidates’ forum

By Terry Cook
27 February 2007

Members and supporters of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) distributed an open letter at a forum for NSW state candidates for the seat of Newcastle organised by the New Institute on February 22. The letter called on those who attended to oppose the New Institute’s decision to exclude SEP candidate Noel Holt from participating. The New Institute had advertised the forum “as a rare chance to join a genuine ‘town meeting’ with all parties taking part.”

Australian High Court widens use of secret evidence

By Richard Hoffman, 13 March 2009

A recent court decision in the case of K-Generation Pty Limited is another sharp reminder that there is no inalienable right to a fair hearing or trial in Australia.

Australia: Unions to police Labor’s new, employer-friendly industrial laws

By Terry Cook
29 April 2009

Amid a wave of retrenchments, closures and imposition of short-time working, the Rudd Labor government’s Fair Work Act was pushed through parliament last month and will come into operation on July 1.

Refined over many months in closed-door consultations with leading employer associations, the laws will be used by the government, employers and unions in an escalating attack on jobs, wages and working conditions as the global economic crisis worsens.

Australia: Coroner attacks as a “disgrace” Aboriginal man’s death in prison van

By Joe Lopez
29 June 2009

Western Australian state coroner Alastair Hope has described as a “disgrace” the death of 46-year-old Aboriginal elder Mr Ward from the remote Warburton Aboriginal Community, located 1,540 kilometres from the state capital Perth.

Mr Ward, whose family requested that his first name not be revealed for cultural reasons, died of heatstroke on January 27 last year after being arrested and transported, for nearly four hours, in sweltering heat in a faulty prison van that had no functioning air conditioning. Investigators found that the air temperature inside the van would have been over 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), with the metal surfaces reaching 56 degrees (132.8 Fahrenheit), causing a large burn on Mr Ward’s stomach.

Australia: West Gate Bridge construction workers charged with criminal offences

By Patrick O’Connor
4 July 2009

Twelve construction workers have been charged with serious criminal offences relating to industrial action and picketing in April at Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge project.

The charges include reckless conduct likely to cause injury (with a potential penalty of up to five years imprisonment), various assault indictments including with a weapon (three years imprisonment), and dangerous driving (two years). The case comes to court next Monday, though no pleas will be entered. A six to eight week bargaining process will likely follow.

Rob Stary, the lawyer representing the workers, told the World Socialist Web Sitethat the charges were “politically driven” by the state and federal Labor governments of Premier John Brumby and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and represented a “scandalous” use of the criminal legal system in an industrial dispute.

Australia: League tables and democratic rights—a reply to News Ltd

By Laura Tiernan
8 July 2009

Over the past week Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited publications have ramped up their campaign for school league tables. Editorials and major OpEd pieces have appeared in the Australian and in Sydney’s tabloid Daily Telegraph castigating opponents of school reporting as “class dunces” and opponents of free speech.

According to the Telegraph (which quoted liberally from Labor’s Education Minister Julia Gillard), a “fear campaign” is being waged by teacher unions amounting to “censorship of the public’s right to know how schools compare on academic performance”.

The newspaper’s education writer Maralyn Parker was more direct: “Laws prohibiting NSW [New South Wales] media from ranking schools are ineffective, insulting to parents, offensive to civil libertarians and a provocative attack on media, specifically The Daily Telegraph.”

Australian unions praise Labor’s new “Fair Work” laws

By Terry Cook
16 July 2009

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Sharon Burrow joined hands in celebration after Labor’s “Fair Work” industrial relations laws commenced on July 1, in an attempt to blind workers as to their real nature.

At a ceremony marking the start of Labor’s IR regime, Gillard used the word “fair” 46 times, claiming that the legislation “delivers on the Rudd government’s [election] promise for fair and balanced laws”. Burrow welcomed “the beginning of a harmonious, respectful future” that would be “celebrated by workers across the country”. During the ceremony Burrow warmly embraced Gillard.

Australia: Labor’s “reform” to further privatise health care

By Mike Head
6 August 2009

The final report of the Australian government’s 16-month-old National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, released last week, has made clearer the pro-market and pro-business agenda driving what Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says is the most major “reform” of health care since the introduction of the Medicare universal insurance scheme in the 1970s.

In the guise of revamping the Medicare framework, the Labor government is actually preparing a major assault on public health care. Rudd is setting out to exploit the already severe under-funding and running-down of public hospital and health services over the past three decades to increasingly transform the entire system into a market-driven one.

Australian officials exclude WSWS from reporting on Pacific Islands Forum

14 August 2009

In a blatant act of political censorship, Australian officials organising the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) denied media accreditation to World Socialist Web Sitejournalists, Patrick O’Connor and Richard Phillips, to cover the three-day event.

While the WSWS reporters completed the official application process well before the forum, PIF organisers waited until the last minute before informing WSWS reporters that they would be excluded.


Australian agency integrated into NSA spying operations

By Peter Symonds, 21 October 2013

Australian spy agencies are directly involved in the “harvesting” of millions of email address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services.

Australia: Queensland government legislates draconian “anti-bikie” laws

By Mike Head, 23 October 2013

The Queensland legislation marks an escalation of the far-reaching “criminal association” laws passed by state governments since 2001, which erode basic democratic rights.

Australia: Sweeping security powers for G20 summit in Queensland

By Ellen Blake, 1 November 2013

Next year’s scheduled summit in Brisbane and Cairns is being used to set new police-state precedents.

David Hicks seeks to overturn Guantánamo “terrorism” conviction

By Richard Phillips, 7 November 2013

Hicks is seeking to have the conviction thrown out because the law was applied retrospectively and his “guilty” plea was an “unlawful product of the coercive conditions.”

Australian government unveils tougher anti-strike laws

By Terry Cook, 22 November 2013

Two draconian industrial relations bills are only the first instalment of a further assault on workers’ wages, conditions and basic rights.

Australian High Court hears challenge to anti-democratic electoral laws

By Mike Head, 2 December 2013

The NSW legislation bans parties and groups from accepting political donations from anyone except individuals on the state’s electoral roll.

Australian government threatens lawyer with charges over Timor spying revelations

By Mike Head, 5 December 2013

The extraordinary threat underscores how far the government will go to prevent further exposures of the vast US-Australia surveillance network.

Australian Federal Police boosts data intercept capacity

By Mike Head, 16 December 2013

Deep packet inspection” technology allows the police to build a detailed picture of anyone’s daily life, including his or her political activities.

Australian Greens initiate Senate inquiry to whitewash mass surveillance

By Mike Head, 30 December 2013

The inquiry is about updating and boosting the powers of the security apparatus.

Reactionary “law and order” campaign follows fatal assault on teenager

By Oliver Campbell, 17 January 2014

The political establishment cannot allow any objective discussion of the social factors that produced the death of 18-year-old Daniel Christie.

Australian “union corruption” inquiry targets workers

By Terry Cook, 25 February 2014

The Royal Commission witchhunt is part of a sweeping drive to dismantle working conditions.

Australian government scraps refugees’ rights to legal aid

By Alan Leigh, 19 April 2014

The denial of access to legal aid escalates the government’s drive to coerce asylum seekers to abandon their refugee applications.

Australia: Constitutional challenge to Queensland anti-association laws

By Robert Morgan, 25 April 2014

Under the cover of “anti-bikie” laws, the legislation can be employed against any organisation that the state government deems—for its own political purposes—to be illegal.

 Australian spy chief defends new “terror” lawsBy Mike Head 

29 August 2014

Australia’s domestic spy chief, David Irvine, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), delivered an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, seeking to defend the Abbott government’s latest proposed “anti-terrorism” legislation.

It was the first-ever such appearance by an ASIO director-general. For decades, they remained in the shadows of the corridors of power. His appearance itself indicates the far-reaching character of the as-yet-unseen laws, which are known to include the compulsory retention of all online communications data.

Irvine is mounting a propaganda offensive, obviously authorised by the government, to try to overcome popular opposition. He also appeared on breakfast television this month—another previously unheard of media event.

Like the Obama administration and other Western governments, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government is seizing on the debacle produced by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 to stoke “terrorist” scare campaigns. Irvine sought to drum up fears that some of the 60 or so Australians who have allegedly joined the fighting in Syria and Iraq will return to conduct terrorist attacks in Australia.


New facts revealed on 2010 ousting of Australian PM

By Nick Beams 
29 August 2014

Interviews with senior Labor Party figures, both past and present, published in the new book Triumph and Demise by the Australian newspaper’s leading political journalist Paul Kelly, cast a further revealing light on the circumstances surrounding the June 23-24, 2010 coup that ousted Labor leader Kevin Rudd as prime minister and installed Julia Gillard.

Kelly does not delve into the driving forces of the coup, in particular the role played by the United States as the Obama administration set in place the anti-China “pivot” to Asia. However, what he does present demolishes the fiction that Rudd’s removal was about poor public opinion poll ratings or his dysfunctional management style.


Australian government weighs up joining US air war in Iraq

By Peter Symonds 
25 August 2014

The Australian government is actively considering the commitment of military forces as part of the widening US military intervention in Iraq, according to a front-page article in today’s Australian. While the newspaper focussed on Australian war planes joining the US in air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, it also pointed to other options including the dispatch of ground forces.

The article was written by the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan who has close connections with the security establishment in both Canberra and Washington. Murdoch’s newspaper, and Sheridan in particular, have played a prominent role in whipping up a terrorist scare campaign that would be used to justify Australian military involvement.