ASIO Doesn't Do It Again

10 February 2004

For anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in the world around them - or anyone who thinks at all - I would emphatically recommend checking out  last night's Four Corners on Willie Brigitte; his background, time in Australia (specifically why it took the authorities so long to work out that he was a terrorist) and his current interrogation in France.

One point I found especially pertinent was an interview with the leader of the mosque in Sydney where Brigitte worshiped. The gist of what he said was, "How can you accuse us of harbouring a terrorist? If the government and intelligence agencies cannot work out that he is a terrorist, how are we meant to be able to? Can we read people's hearts or minds?"

It was also frightening to learn that the communications room at ASIO is NOT STAFFED OUT SIDE OF BUSINESS HOURS. The warning from the French government about Brigitte being a possible dangerous terrorist, having trained in Pakistan, with links to Al Qaeda, arrived at ASIO comms at 10pm on a Friday night. As it was a long weekend, no one received the warning until the following Tuesday. If that doesn't apall you, it should. Anyway, follow up Four Corners with Media Watch, which takes a very rational view of the disgusting mess that was the reporting of the death of David Hookes; interesting whether or not you care about the story itself at all.

A Political Beginning

04 February 2004
I was a young Labor member in my late teens, volunteering at elections and spruiking the word amongst all I knew. But like many, after the twin GST disasters – the tax and the Good Ship Tampa – derailed the party in 2001 and the Crean years descended, I began voting Socialist Alliance or Greens, and lost all hope that I would ever see a party I supported in power again.

My main political beliefs now could be summed up as follows (in no particular order of importance to me):

• Government investment in infrastructure and regulation of industry;

• Deficit is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it creates jobs;

• Universal, free healthcare and education;

• Equal rights for same sex couples;

• An Australian republic, and get the damn Union Jack OFF our flag;

• Absolute separation of church and state;

• Refugees are not queue jumpers, usually they are coming from places where there’s no queue to jump; they should be out in the community and their kids should be going to school and playing in the park;

• Troops out of Iraq NOW;

• Say sorry…and work out a treaty;

• Social security payments should be above the poverty line;

• Change the national anthem to “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead.

(Okay, okay the last one is a joke…mostly).

But I’m not a left wing nut. I’m widely read, and I have studied tertiary economics, politics and industrial relations, so I do know of which I speak. On top of which, I know many people who have battled mental and physical illness, unemployment, and lack of opportunity; people who are deeply in love, have been for years, and will never be legally recognised as a couple; people who are poor and hopeless, in the original sense of the word, through no fault of their own. I have seen for too long and too often the suffering caused by the Howard government.

Things have to change. Please cow Mark Latham can be elected and change them.

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