Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anne Aly, new Australian Labor MP for Cowan, on 'Radicalisation, Terrorism and Human Rights'

Anne Aly answers questions at the Castan Centre Human Rights conference

In July 2016 Dr Anne Aly was elected Labor Member of the House of Representatives for the Cowan electorate in Western Australia. She is the first Muslim woman in the Australian parliament. Anne has achieved a 'national and international profile as one of Australia’s foremost authorities on radicalisation, extremism and countering violent extremism'.

Her address to the Castan Centre Human Rights Law conference on 22 July 2016 focussed on 'Radicalisation, Terrorism and Human Rights'.

The following is the video of her presentation and Q&A:



Our response to terrorism needs to be agile and adaptive to be able to respond effectively to the threat of violence against innocent civilians. The persistent threat of terrorism today goes beyond the real and present danger of violent acts‐both at home and abroad.

Her presentation explored the contrasting approaches to counter terrorism, the so-called 'hard' and 'soft' measures:

The conventional wisdom of employing an orthodox military response against an unorthodox enemy whose regenerative capacity relies on its ability to employ ‘soft’ strategies of influence and mobilisation has, rightly, been questioned.

The task of counter terrorism today places equal significance on stopping terrorist acts through activities that are designed to decimate their tactical capabilities to organise, plan and conduct violent acts (both at home and abroad) and on undermining the capacity of terrorist groups to engage, manipulate and mobilise individuals to commit acts of violence.

The second approach that places emphasis on prevention is often referred to as the soft side of counter terrorism or countering violent extremism: loosely defined as measures that target the root causes of terrorism at the societal level.

Aly argued for smart counter terrorism to get the balance right:

Neither soft power nor hard power alone is very effective in achieving the goals of counter terrorism. Integrating these two approaches into a single framework that effectively balances hard and soft power is challenged by the institutions and contexts which govern each form of power. Such an integrated framework is what I have previously called smart counter terrorism...

Part of being smart was to acknowledge the limits of governments and the importance of the broader community:

We should remain cognisant of the traditional tensions between hard and soft power institutions and instruments.

In this sense, governments need to think simultaneously about hard and soft strategies and how one might affect the other as well as recognise that their limitations in incorporating soft elements of power are outside their sphere of influence and expertise.

Since soft power resources generally exist outside the government realm, governments must learn to conduct business in a more fluid, dynamic and flexible way with smaller less formal/bureaucratic groups. The tools of soft counter terrorism reside in small, adaptable, transnational networks, which work towards prevention, intervention and rehabilitation.

In this sense, smart counter terrorism is dependent on harnessing the power of grassroots civil society movements in ways that address the shortcomings of institutionalised power.

Anne Aly is an academic and her arguments were aimed primarily at lawyers and policy makers present. She will be talking to a national audience in her role as parliamentarian. Anne clearly has the skills to do so, as evidenced by a swing of 5.2% despite smears during the election campaign.

The full transcript of the paper is available here. SBS News has also posted a video about Anne Aly to its Facebook page:


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Monday, July 25, 2016

What has the Victorian Labor government ever done for human rights?

Developments in Human Rights in Victoria 2016


Martin Pakula MP, Victorian Attorney-General, addressed the Castan Centre Human Rights Law annual conference on 22 July 2016. He launched the government's response to the Victorian Human Rights Charter Review.

A major focus of the Government’s response will be to ensure that an appropriate human rights culture continues to be built in the Victorian public sector.

To do this, the Government will prioritise human rights training and education for public sector employees.

The Department of Justice and Regulation will provide an additional $1.25 million this financial year to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the department's Human Rights Unit.

The Attorney-General also outlined some of the developments in Human Rights in Victoria since the government was elected in November 2014. These included laws supporting LGBTI rights and responses to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The following video contains part of his speech:



The Castan Centre YouTube channel should have the full version available soon.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Liberals Lost for Words Over Malcolm Turnbull

It was a defining moment of #ausvotes2016.

The scene: outside Black Rock Primary School polling place just after voting began on 2 July. It as as true-blue as it gets. New kid on the block, former 'Freedom Commissioner' Tim Wilson, won the seat easily, replacing Andrew Robb, retiring Trade minister.

The players: 3 Liberal Party campaigners, one Green and myself were handing out How-to-Vote cards.

The question: A discussion ensued about Bill Shorten's leadership and campaigning. After some consensus that he's performed above expectations, the Green asked what should have been a dorothy-dixer. "What about Malcolm?"

The answer: 3 jaws dropped simultaneously, with eyes darting to the others for help. After an embarrassing sterile pause, some generalities about Turnbull having faced a difficult task.

The lesson: If Turnbull continues as PM, he will need to win the confidence of his own followers before he can show real leadership of the country.

Anyway, Draw your own conclusions. The mainstream media and the commentariat are little help. They've proved how out of touch (to pinch a 3 word slogan from Labor) yet again.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11: Whitlam's Dismissal and the CIA

Maintaining my rage with a reprise of a 2010 post about the Whitlam government's dismissal and the role of United States:

The question in my post WikiWobbles: What is Julia Gillard Thinking? about what US cables might have revealed about the dismissal of the Whitlam government prodded me to troll/trawl the web for documents from the time.

All I’ve found so far are some declassified State Department communications from 1973 -75. They are kept by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They are mostly bland rehashes of the news of the day. Many are extracts from the Financial Review or The Australian newspapers.

Somewhat unexpectedly Malcolm Fraser’s handling of the Blocking of Supply crisis receives strong criticism from the embassy. Their author did not seem to be a fan of Fraser's, relaying negative comments on his tactics of the time.

The documents include:

Gough Whitlam’s linking of Country Party Leader Doug Anthony with the CIA

From Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

4 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: WHITLAM ACCUSES ANTHONY OF RECEIVING CIA MONEY

1. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO APPROACH THE GOA TODAY AT THE HIGHEST AVAILABLE LEVEL, CATEGORICALLY DENYING ON BEHALF OF THE USG THAT THE CIA PAID MONEY TO THE NATIONAL COUNTRY PARTY OR ITS LEADER DOUGLAS ANTHONY. NEITHER THE CIA NOR ANY OTHER US AGENCY HAS GIVEN OR PASSED FUNDS TO ANY AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTY OR CANDIDATE FOR AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL OFFICE.

2. YOU SHOULD ADD THAT, AS A MATTER OF STANDING PRACTICE, THE USG NEITHER CONFIRMS NOR DENIES PUBLICLY ALLEGATIONS OF THE TYPE REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE PRIME MINISTER. THE USG REGRETS, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH A CHARGE AGAINST NCP LEADER ANTHONY, IF CORRECTLY REPORTED, COULD HAVE DAMAGING FALLOUT ON OTHER ASPECTS OF US-AUSTRALIAN RELATIONS.

4 NOV 1975

CALL FOR US REBUTTAL OF WHITLAM'S ACCUSATIONS

EMBASSY CANBERRA HAS BEEN RELIABLY INFORMED THAT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE SECRETARIES WOULD WELCOME A FORMAL USG STATEMENT DENYING ANY CIA FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT WITH AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTIES. THE EMBASSY RECOMMENDS A STATEMENT BE ISSUED PROMPTLY, SINCE A DELAY WOULD ENCOURAG PRIME MINISTER WHITLAM TO CONTINUE IMPUGNING THE US THROUGH CHEAP POLITICAL SHOTS AT HIS OPPONENTS.

Comment on the blocking of Supply in the Senate by Fraser’s Coalition opposition

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

7 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL CRISIS

6. OPPOSITION LEADER FRASER'S DECISION TO WITHHOLD THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE HAS BACKFIRED BADLY. THE LONGER HE REFUSES TO BUDGE THE MORE LIKELY IT IS THAT HIS PERSONAL POPULARITY AS WELL AS THE POPULARITY OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES WILL CONTINUE TO FALL. FRASER IS ALSO HAVING INCREASING DIFFICULTY HOLDING OPPOSITION SENATORS TOGETHER. A SENIOR SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS RELYING EXCLUSIVELY ON THE ADVICE OF COUNTRY PARTY LEADERS; ANTHONY, NIXON, AND SINCLAIR, ALONG WITH A FEW HARDLINE LIBERALS LIKE SENATOR WITHERS AND DEPUTY LEADER LYNCH AND HARDLY CONFERRING AT ALL WITH OTHER IMPORTANT LIBERAL MEMBERS OF THE SHADOW CABINET. THIS SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS QTE ONLY CONSULTING WITH FELLOW GRAZIERS END QTE AND SAID POINTEDLY QTE WHEN SNEDDEN WENT TOO FAR WE HAD TO GET RID OF HIM END QTE HE ALSO STATED FLATLY THAT AT LEAST TWO LIBERAL SENATORS WOULD REFUSE TO REJECT RATHER THAN DEFER THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IF THEY WERE ASKED TO DO SO.

8. IN OUR VIEW, WHAT FRASER HAS DONE IS TO RESCUE THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT FROM AN ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE POSITION AND TO GIVE IT A FIGHTING CHANGE TO SURVIVE UNTIL THE END OF ITS ELECTED TERM IN 1977. IN THE PROCESS HE REVEALED POOR JUDGMENT IN WITHHOLDING SUPPLY AND SHOWED THAT HE IS UNABLE TO BEST WHITLAM IN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE. FRASER HAS A NUMBER OF POTENTIAL RIVALS WITHIN THE LIBERAL PARTY WHO MIGHT WELL BE TEMPTED TO TRY TO REPLACE HIM AS LEADER AS A RESULT OF HIS PERFORMANCE TO DATE. GIVEN THE PRESENT SORRY STATE OF THE OPPOSITION, WHITLAM MAY WELL INSIST THAT THE OPPOSITION BACK DOWN COMPLETELY AND PASS THE SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE.

This is not the stuff of deep intrigue, though the reported role of the Secretaries of the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments certainly seems at odds with their own government. If the conspiracy theories about the dismissal are correct and evidence is online, it’s hard to find. I wonder how long materials held by the Intelligence organisations are kept under wraps.

Also came across this reference to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the murder of the Balibo 5. The Timor cable may be of interest to Shirley Shackleton, widow of Greg Shackleton who was one of the Australian murdered journalists, though I’m sure she will have seen it.

Comment on the Missing Balibo 5 in East Timor

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

31 OCT 1975

SUBJECT: TIMOR

1. IN A SPEECH TO THE SENATE ON OCTOBER 3, FOREIGN MINISTER WILLESEE REVERSED THE GOA'S POLICY OF NON-INVOLVEMENT IN THE TIMOR CRISIS BY OFFERING TO HELP ARRANGE DECOLONIZATION TALKS IN AUSTRALIA. THE STATEMENT WAS IN REPLY TO LEFTIST ALP SEN. GEITZELDT'S CALL FOR THE GOA TO RECOGNIZE FRETELIN AS THE DE FACTO GOVERNMENT IN EAST TIMOR.

2. SENATOR WILLESEE SAID THAT THE GOA DEPLORED THE FIGHTING IN THE BORDER AREAS AND BELIEVED QTE THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR SHOULD BE SOUGHT THROUGH PEACEFUL MEANS FREE OF INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION. END QTE. THE GOA WAS PREPARED TO PROVIDE THE LOCALE FOR TALKS TO DETERMINE JUST WHAT THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR WANT. IN A CAUTIOUS REBUKE OF INDONESIA, VIEWS IN THIS REGARD AND URGED TO PURSUE HER INTERESTS THROUGH DIPLOMATIC MEANS. END QTE.

3. COMMENT: THE FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT MARKS A RELUCTANT CHANGE IN THE GOA'S PREVIOUS POLICY OF NON-INTERVENTION IN TIMOR WITH TACIT GOA SUPPORT FOR A GOI TAKE-OVER. AS NOTED IN REFTEL, THE ALP LEFT HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY CRITICAL OF THE GOA'S TIMOR POLICY. PRESS REPORTS WIICH INDICATE THE POSSIBILITY THAT FIVE AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISTS WERE FIRST SHOT AND THEN BURNED BY INDONESIAN SUPPORTED FORCES IN TIMOR HAVE HEIGHTENED THIS CRITICISM. THE ALLEGED REFUSAL OF ANTI-FRETELIN FORCES TO PERMIT AN AUSTRALIAN OFFICER INTO THE AREA TO EXAMINE THE BODIES FURTHER AROUSED SUSPICIONS AND PUBLIC REACTION. THE GOA'S ACTION OFFERING AUSTRALIA AS POSSIBLE SITE FOR TALKS ON THE TIMOR PROBLEM WAS PROBABLY THE MINIMUM THE GOVERNMENT COULD TAKE TO PLACATE THE ALP LEFT. PROTESTS AND OPPOSITION WILL BECOME GREATER AS THE EXTENT OF GOI MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN EAST TIMOR BECOMES KNOWN. THIS WILL PRESENT THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT WITH A MOST UNWELCOME, POTENTIALLY DEVISIVE ISSUE DURING A PERIOD OF DOMESTIC POLITICAL CRISIS.

Shirley was awarded the Best Book Award for The Circle of Silence at the 2010 Walkley Awards on 9 Dec. In her acceptance speech she says that , “our democracy is under threat because of WikiLeaks …”. The video of her speech is below.


There are lots of other documents from those years. But it’s more a job for post-grad Politics or History students than a busy citizen journalist.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stand Up - Fight Back! #March4


On 4 March 2015 tens of thousands of worker and their supporters marched in Melbourne, Australia in defence of working conditions and government services. The rally against Tony Abbott's Coalition government was organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council .



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Monday, February 2, 2015

Live tweeting @TonyAbbotMHR at the National Press Club

Live tweeting @TonyAbbotMHR at the National Press Club - haven’t had this much fun since watching Asian Cup final and Queensland elections on Saturday night!






































Here endeth the sermon!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Video: ALP Celebrates in Mentone


On the night of the Victorian State election 2014 local campaigners from the seats of Mordialloc and Sandringham gather in Mentone to celebrate Labor's victory. Candidates Tim Richardson and Christina Zigouras thank their supporters.



Tim Richardson won back the seat for Labor with a two-party-preferred swing of 3.5%.

Christina Zigouras gained the second largest 2PP swing to Labor in the State of 8.2%.

The electorates are next to each other and worked closely during the campaign. An historic night all round!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's the bottom line we should demand of our State Parliamentarians?


A couple of Letters to the Editor in Melbourne's Bayside Leader local 'free' weekly newspaper. It's part of Rupert Murdoch's Herald Sun chain.

A case of old media meets new media, perhaps.

'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' or perhaps just a little bit disgusted with how low the bar is set in Sandy. A pity that politics drives us to clichés.

Don't miss the rest of my coverage of the Sandringham Campaign for the 2014 Victorian State election.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Victorian Election: Sandringham Sandbelt Seat Not So Safe Anymore


The people of Sandringham have been enjoying an unusual election season with a highly visible and focused Labor campaign and a strong independent candidate. ALP candidate Christina Zigouras’ energetic and responsive approach has been in stark contrast to Murray Thompson. After 22 years, our Liberal member did not even turn up to local candidate forums. Locals who looked forward to vigorous debate found that he has added no-show to his customary go-slow.

Independent Clarke Martin has been a tireless advocate for a return to a standalone 7-12 high school in Beaumaris, a passion shared by former student Christina.

No doubt Murray Thompson "is a nice bloke" who does a creditable job helping constituents with their problems. However, the role of a State parliamentarian must be much broader. Our member should articulate a strong vision and concrete policies for the electorate and the State and show leadership on both local and statewide issues. He/she should be actively engaged with the community not just a pipeline to the bureaucracy.

Our issues have much in common with other sand-belt electorates: public transport and traffic congestion; funding of education and training; lack of consultation and inequitable outcomes of residential rezoning processes; protection of bayside coastal areas. There has been lots of media analysis of the Frankston train line. However, few journalists have even noticed that two of the worst level crossings earmarked for removal by Labor are in our electorate, namely Cheltenham and Mentone.

We should not be taken for granted just because we live in a so-called safe blue ribbon seat. Our democracy deserves much better. We need a vigorous voice in Sandringham!

Click for more on the 2014 Victorian State election

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Next Leader of the Victorian Liberals, Not!

There is already speculation about who will replace Denis Napthine as leader of the Victorian Liberals after the 29 November election.

Our local Liberal member is rumoured to have had only one supporter for leader when Napthine was elected, himself. It is a pity that he did not choose to join Ted Baillieu by retiring this time. After 22 years of cruising in a so-called safe seat, he has become an invisible, unaccountable representative. Thompson did not attend any of the candidates' forums for Sandringham. His excuse was that he did not need to debate the other candidates as he was having his own meeting on 21 November. Well, that day has arrived and it's impossible to find any public announcement of his secret gathering for electors. His expensive, glossy mail-out today made no mention of when he will face the people.

Democracy deserves much better. Sandringham deserves to have a new face in Spring Street. The Labor candidate Christina Zigouras has been energetic, highly visible and genuinely responsive throughout the campaign.

We should not be taken for granted just because they live in a blue ribbon seat.

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