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How to avoid the democratic process within your own party

By Jennifer Wilson

In December 2014, then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison made this alarming lunge for sole power over citizenship decisions without recourse to judicial review:

The DIBP submission to a Senate committee argues that an elected member of parliament and minister of the Crown has gained a particular insight into the community’s standards and values. This particular insight therefore qualifies Morrison to overrule AAT decisions. It is the bill’s intention to grant a minister, in this case Morrison, the power to determine an individual’s “good character” or otherwise, regardless of any ruling made by the AAT. Morrison’s decision will be unchallengeable.

Peter Dutton has now replaced Morrison as Minister for Immigration and is in the process of attempting a similar grab for sole power over the stripping of citizenship from those he alone deems unsuitable to retain it.

No citizen can have confidence in a government or an opposition that supports one politician being granted absolute power over such decisions. It is absolutely contrary to all democratic instincts and practices. The question we must ask is why is it thought necessary to invest one politician with this much power? The answer is obviously that the government cannot risk internal debate, and is determined to avoid that democratic process. The Minister is answerable to no one within his party, let alone outside of it. It is only a matter of time before more Ministers are granted similar authority over who knows what circumstances, and anyone who believes or trusts otherwise has their head in a sack. The government has no mandate to invest a Minister with absolute power, not even within its own ranks.


∫ ∫ ∫ ∫ ∫ ∫ ∫


There are currently so many disturbing events initiated by the Abbott government it’s difficult to triage, however, surely one of the more alarming is the decision to imprison for up to two years doctors, nurses and teachers who disclose adverse conditions at asylum seeker detention centres on Manus and Nauru.

In spite of the border protection rhetoric that surrounds this decision, it’s apparent to anyone with a brain that the only interests served by imposing these draconian restrictions on professionals who, in Australia, are mandated to report abuses they become aware of in the course of their work, are the interests of the Abbott government, supported by the Labor opposition.

Neither major party wants us or the rest of the world to know what goes on in the off-shore detention centres. Knowledge of abuses inflicted upon the detained cannot possibly be a threat to our national security, and if that is what the major parties continue to insist, they need to explain exactly how they justify that claim.

Indeed, if there was any logic to the government’s argument the ill-treatment of asylum seekers ought to be trumpeted from the rooftops as a deterrence to anyone else attempting to come here by boat. Not only will you never be resettled in Australia, you and your children will be subjected to inhumane treatment and conditions in tropical hell holes as well.

As head of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs so eloquently pointed out, we are currently being subjected to an erosion of rights that ought to have us taking to the streets in protest at the over-reach of executive power by the Abbott government. It is not far-fetched to imagine that a government prepared to imprison professionals for doing their jobs in off-shore detention centres will extend that threat to professionals doing their jobs in the homeland, should it serve their interests. There’s certainly no future in entreating the ALP to take a stand, indeed, the ALP seems more than happy for Abbott to do this dirty work.

Jennifer also writes on her own blog: No Place For Sheep



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  1. DanDark

    Thanks Michael for this article about the level of stupidity and cunningness of this rabid Gov all wrapped up in one.
    The past brings us to the present, the labor party opened the door for the Rabbott and the Morrisscum and the Dudster
    with their race to the bottom for the votes before the last election,

    I don’t think we can let the labor party off that easy when it comes to the cruelty of humans in these inhumane centers in other countries that do not have the capacity or the means, or the will to care for OUR asylum seekers properly,
    other than being paid lots of money to have them locked up on their soil, it is a sad indictment of the capacity some humans/politicians and their supporters will go to for their own self interest, the almighty vote plain and simple….

  2. Michael Taylor

    Thanks, DD, but the thanks should go to Jennifer Wilson. I didn’t realise when I posted it that I was logged in as myself instead as one of the admin team.

  3. DanDark

    Oh I was a bit confused, but your name was at the top, so I guesstimated wrong in the end,
    I was going to put Jennifers name at first 🙂 Thanks Jennifer for this article….

  4. Bilal

    The grab for power by the executive, with the minister deciding on the punishment of exile, or presumably incarceration if exile is impossible, is contrary to Magna Carta and to the 1688 Glorious Revolution. To breach the separation of powers is a move back towards divine right monarchy where the executive ruled without any checks or balances.


    The arbitrary removal of one’s rights as a free person and possibly removal from society if deportation is impossible, smells of that sort of mediaeval utopia some of our front bench seem to hanker after. We may indeed be facing a regime which is prepared too place those whose citizenship has been removed into camps like the falsely described “illegal” asylum seekers. There is truth in the saying that what they do to the most disadvantaged is what they would like to do to all of us.

    Gillian Triggs has warned us that democracy is under threat and we should take her very seriously. She is an internationally respected scholar and a real defender of Australian values.

    Gillian Triggs for Australian of the Year and defender of Australian democracy. Where is the Opposition?

  5. David

    I will defend the Labor Party when they are in the business of doing what the party was founded for, and keeping the principals of defending and looking after those who cannot do so themselves. Asylum Seekers fall into that category without any doubt and the ALP has not only fallen down on the job, they have become complicit in the continued suffering of these people, in the name I presume of political expediency and vote net casting.
    Labor to their and therefore mine as a member shame, voted with the Govt on the decision to imprison for up to two years doctors, nurses and teachers who disclose adverse conditions at asylum seeker detention centres on Manus and Nauru. It is beyond belief a Labor Party would be partner in such evil.
    I contacted Marles the Opposition Immigration Shadow and as usual he declined to respond. The man is as weak as a watery urination and being a close friend on the right of an equally weak leader in Shorten I am not surprised.
    I asked Shorten how he was going to unwedge himself from the corner Abbott has maneuvered him into over terrorism and all the cr-p that is associated with the Govt’s rhetoric on home grown attacks and similar.
    Silence reigned.
    Unless the moderates in the party do something about Shorten and the right faction at July’s conference, the next election, which I suspect is very much closer than we think, is lost.The ALP, unless they have one of Howard’s rabbits hidden, have lost the plot.
    I wont bother with Saturdays announcement of the back tracking on tax, defies logic. Perhaps Labor have decided they dont want to win and will leave this evil Govt to sink in their own flotsam

  6. Kaye Lee

    That moron Dutton has gone on the Bolt Report today and suggested Triggs should resign because she has “reduce[d]the position to basically that of a political advocate.”

    What the fool fails to realise is that she is an advocate for human rights and the Coalition’s obsessive hatred for her show their utter disdain for human rights which they will gladly abuse but greatly fear anyone objecting.

    As Jennifer points out, doctors and teachers have a legal obligation to report abuse. The government’s insistence that medical problems and child abuse be covered up under threat of prosecution is unbelievable. These bastards must go.

    George Brandis is getting more arrogant every day as he, likewise, confers powers upon himself regarding prosecuting journalists and distributing arts funding.

  7. Deidre Zanker

    This is beyond scary, it is terrifying. A fascist dictatorship taking the place of our democracy. Gillian Triggs is an amazingly courageous, intelligent and brave woman. How long before Abbott tries to lock her up or deport her. What hope is there for any of us who disagrees with govt policy? Will we end up on Manis or Nauru stripped of our citizenship and human rights?

  8. mmc1949

    Unless the moderates in the party do something about Shorten and the right faction at July’s conference, the next election, which I suspect is very much closer than we think, is lost.The ALP, unless they have one of Howard’s rabbits hidden, have lost the plot.

    Spot on. You only have to read the pro-Abbott comments elsewhere to realise that a truly significant number of people think he’s doing a great job. It says volumes about Australian intelligence and values (or lack thereof). Abbott is a long way from losing the next election and it’s time the ALP woke up to the fact that he will not necessarily ‘lose’ the election so that they will ‘win’ by default. Positive action is required …. as is its need to be an alternative party, a different government. There’s nothing attractive to either Abbott lovers or haters in Liberal-lite.

  9. David

    I was at a gathering of like minded vehemently anti Govt friends last evening and conversation as it does these days turned to Dutton. There was almost general agreement he either has something on Abbott that keeps him in the Ministry, he is a former copper, or Abbott doesn’t give a shite how he runs Immigration now that outwardly the boats have been stopped.
    No one that incompetent could keep employment as a trainee paper picker upper on a park lawn, let alone a Minister of the Crown. I am devoid of answers on this fool.

  10. lawrencewinder

    Rabid-theHun and his ruling rabble are fast becoming a Fascist party.

  11. Tony Rabbit

    I’ve given up on Labor.

    With their support for “The Border Force Act” and the Metadata Retention laws they are failing to represent me.

    I will be voting Green at the next election.

    It’s sad really, they’re not winning votes from coalition voters, they’re just alienating their own supporter base. The Greens are now starting to behave like a mainstream party and can be serious contenders.

  12. kerri

    The changes being wrought by these idiots are incomprehensible!
    But the inaction of the ALP and Shorten and their complicity is utterly unforgiveable!

  13. Andreas

    Face up to it, fellow travelers: FASCISM is here. This is our last chance before we find ourselves on Xmas Island, as non-citizens.

  14. stephentardrew

    A good dose of rat-sack for the dud Dutton and his malicious mate Morrison.

  15. corvus boreus

    Tony Rabbit,
    I mostly agree.
    Unfortunately, a lot of voters, especially older ones, have a long-term distrust of the Greens, viewing them as unrealistic extremists, an attitude consciously and continually propagated and reinforced by both the ‘traditional’ parties and the ‘mainstream’ media(aided by the occasional Green self-inflicted injury).
    The greatest beneficiaries of Labor’s lack of policy, clarity and ethics might be the Informal Party.

  16. stephentardrew

    Politicians have always wanted to run roughshod over the separation of powers.

    Time for a high court challenge.

    Could those in the know please explain the legals.

  17. RosemaryJ36

    I think the High Court challenge could only happen if the legislation is passed.
    We really are at the stage where we need some nationwide mass rallies protesting the governments actions.

  18. brickbob

    We all know what Abbott and his thugs get up to so i wont repeat their history and on going idiocy,but in all the media outlets i and others comment to about this awful Govt and Opposition, it always ends up at the same destination, the Media.
    In 8 out of 10 threads the commentator makes their point about how bad the Govt is,and they are as we know,but their final scorn is for the compliant and corrupt media we have in this country,and until we fix the second problem we are stuck with the first.
    Whoever controls the media controls the population and can shape their opinion in any way they see fit, and aside from exellent independant media like this one and others,we cant do a damm thing about it.””””””

  19. Ned

    Abbott should be arrested and put on trial for conspiracy for trying to enact policy to entrap and murder Australian citizens by rendering them stateless being sweep up in
    foreign operations like Jade Helm 15′ and other nations that violate international Human rights laws, along violation of constitution. Jesuits have always been into secret murders. They operate as a coded Mafia. Mr Abbott’s has a blackened heart, stone cold to his real intent. He is pure wickedness. And he thinks he’s getting away with it.

  20. Ned

    Dutton is Mutton dressed up as Lamb, but is also a wolf in sheeps clothing. He leading the sheep to the slaughter house of Captain Jade Rabbott Helm 15 Coalition dark night of the long knives rising. Hockey is the joker clown village idiot.

  21. mars08

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” –George Orwell

  22. paul walter

    As mars says.

    There are many, many of the laws ennacted over this century of the sort described in the piece, to me they can be seen as a unified suite of laws constituting an attack on habeas corpus law and the concept of the rights of a person ( basically, the fair go/do unto others), rather than just a few sleepy mistakes.

    Added up, the word spelled is “fascism” and even blind Freddy ought to be a wake up by now. But somehow, you doubt it.

  23. Pudd'nhead

    “In retrospect, what perhaps troubles me most is that my occasional spells of uneasiness during this period were concerned mainly with the direction I was taking as an architect, with my growing estrangement from Tessenow’s doctrines. On the other hand I must have had the feeling that it was no affair of mine when I heard the people around me declaring an open season on Jews, Freemasons, Social Democrats, or Jehovah’s witnesses. I thought I was not implicated if I myself did not take part”. (From Hitler’s architect and Armaments Minister, Albert Speer in his account of Nazi Germany – “Inside the Third Reich”.)
    We must wonder if similar regretful expressions will appear should Abbott and his team of carnivorous beasts manage to destroy the rule of law while good men and women are uncaring and silent. It will be a long and hard road back to sanity should we allow the Abbotts their way.

  24. David

    Anyone else feel we are preaching to the converted in this and other AIM columns? I usually send these articles to a few Labor MPs who I have respect for and a few I don’t in the hope they will get the feel of the rank and file thinking. it may not change their attitude , but it cant do any harm either.
    Probably I am not alone in spreading the word to them and on Twitter, so hope more are encouraged to do it. As has been mentioned, is time we we took action not just talk about it.
    I have no intention of offending, merely passing on thoughts. Cheers

  25. Kaye Lee

    And again….

    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.

    This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

    Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

    To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

    Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

  26. crypt0

    Let’s face it … Gillian Triggs, Nick Xenophon and the Greens are today’s opposition. together they add up to a very small % of our elected representatives.
    shorten and his ALP are nothing.
    The lnp govt. is wrecking the place to provide justification for their attack on wages, conditions and welfare.
    If and when abbott is returned for a second term, thanks to the highly intelligent Australian voters,
    we shall get to see what all this really means.

  27. David

    @crypt0…There are very intelligent MP’s within both the right and left factions of Labor and I find it beyond reason, they cannot see that Shorten is taking them down a path that will eventually come to a dead end, with a big sign reading ‘you lose’.
    If they don’t have the courage to stand up and argue and defy the stupidity Shorten is displaying, then they do not deserve the respect or support of Labor voters and will give Abbott the victory he neither deserves or has earned. The country will be worse for it.

  28. Bilal

    The whipping up of anti-Muslim bigotry and racism has reached a point where even a right wing Queensland MP has said it is going too far. Fascism must be resisted but it is not just to be found in Daesh/ISIL. It is creeping in here through the grab by the executive for absolute power, an insult to the pillars of our constitution and the separation of powers. That Amanda Vanstone sees the grab for executive power as a threat speaks volumes, given her political track record.

    The student of Bob Santamaria who rules us, obviously did not bring knowledge or appreciation of the British constitution when he immigrated here all those years ago.

  29. stephentardrew

    Even Vanstone is coming out against the ridiculous charade of removing citizenship.

    When that narrow ideologue turns something is certainly rotten in L-NP land.

    I wouldn’t mind betting she sees the writing on the wall and is looking for leadership challenge.

  30. Loz

    This is a very scary government and people must make stand against their draconian policies.

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