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Tag Archives: Iraq

Not About Iraq And Any Similarity Is Purely Coincidental…

“G’day, Howie, haven’t seen you in ages!”
“No, I’ve been keeping a low profile lately.”
“So what brings you here.”
“Well, I’ve come to set the record straight. You remember a few years ago when I went along with my mates and got rid of that low-life vermin who was terrorising the neighbourhood?”
“That foreign bloke, what was his name? Sad Damned Hussy. Yeah, I sort of vaguely remember…”
“Well, someone’s published this long, complicated report which says that we did the wrong thing.”
“Yeah, didn’t you break into his house on the grounds that he had a meth lab where he was forcing kidnapped children to work?”
“Yes, we complained to the police on several occasions but they did nothing.”
“I thought they searched his house and said they couldn’t find anything.”
“That’s right. That’s why George and Tony and I had to act, because the police were hopeless – they could never find anything. Tony, George and I formed a gang and we surrounded his house and told him that he had to release the children and give us all the drugs so that they could be destroyed. If he didn’t do it by midnight, we told him we were going to break in and destroy them ourselves.”
“The children?”
“No, the drugs. Pay attention!”
“But didn’t some children get killed?”
“Not by us… Well, not intentionally anyway.”
“Ok, so what did this Sad bloke do?”
“He just kept insisting that there was no meth lab. We reminded him that he’d be caught dealing marijuana from his hydroponic crop a few years earlier.”
“That was from the hydroponic equipment that George sold him, wasn’t it?”
“Exactly. That’s how we knew that he was sort of wicked, evil drug pusher who couldn’t be believed, because he’d been buying hydroponic equipment right up until the point that we stopped selling it to him.”
“Right, so he just kept claiming that he didn’t have anything illegal and then what happened. I can only remember bits and pieces.”
“Midnight comes around and we enter the house…”
“You broke the door down?”
“No, we’d already sent a few guys in there so that they’d be ready when the time came.”
“So you’d already broken into his house before the deadline was up…”
“Look, I think that we should concentrate on the important issue: The meth lab.”
“Sorry, go on.”
“Anyway, we started looking for him and nobody could find him.”
“And that was when you set fire to the house?”
“Yes, that was to force him out.”
“Didn’t some people die in the fire?”
“There was some collateral damage. But it turns out that he was hiding in the garage. When we found him, he was dragged out and hanged.”
“Without a trial?”
“Of course we had a trial. We had a trial on the spot. We asked him if he had anything to say, and he said something and then he was executed.”
“And what about the meth lab?”
“Sorry?”
“The meth lab was destroyed in the fire?”
“We never actually found the meth lab.”
“Oh. So he was telling the truth.”
“That’s your interpretation.”
“And the fire’s never been completely put out, has it? I read somewhere the other day that it keeps flaring up and that you three had no idea about how you’d put out the fire when you started it.”
“We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning…”
“Billy Joel?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I just thought you were quoting Billy Joel… Anyway, you’ve read the report and you’ve come here to set the record straight and apologise because you got it wrong.”
“I see no need to apologise. I did I believed was right based on the facts I had at my disposal.”
“Sort of like the stolen generation.”
“What!”
“Well, the stolen generation. You know, all those people doing what they thought was right at the time and that’s why there was no need for the government to apologise, because so long as you believe what you’re doing is right at the time, then you don’t need to apologise later.”
“Look, hindsight’s a wonderful thing. But I don’t see why people want to blame for the current fire when we got rid of someone who was a potential drug dealer. I mean even if didn’t have a meth lab at the time, he was probably planning to start one and, besides, he was a thoroughly nasty man and the whole neighbourhood is better now that he’s gone.”
“Apart from the fact that since he’s gone, a criminal gang’s moved in and they’re killing people and…”
“That’s got to nothing to do with me. Anyway, I must go. I need to set the record straight and then dash over to give some advice to a couple of old friends.”
“You mean in spite of getting things so spectularly wrong people still want your advice?”
“Of course. I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever made any mistakes, after all.”

Is the Bible the same as the Koran?

By Bob Rafto

The Paris terrorist attacks were horrific and like any other terrorist attack they leave a trail of grief for the victims’ families to which I send my sincere condolences.

Like everyone else, I did feel revulsion but was further repulsed by the Muslin haters with Tony Abbott in the forefront sowing seeds of division against Muslims and refugees.

One thing that stuck in my craw was Abbott saying they are coming to get us: us being the infidels, the unbelievers. This led to a train of thought that since I was already aware of beheadings and stonings and other murderous teachings appear both in the Bible and the Koran, what I didn’t know was whether death to the unbeliever appeared in the Bible.

Google didn’t disappoint:

Kill All Unbelievers

“And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God …” (Deuteronomy 13: 5).

“If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers …” (Deuteronomy 13: 6).

“Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people” (Deuteronomy 13:8-9).

“Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword” (Deuteronomy 13:15).

So there it was, another similarity which led to my conclusion that the Koran is the same as the Bible and that the Koran was a plagiarization of the Bible but I needed confirmation and I duly asked Google whether the Bible and the Koran was the same.

The first entry was Pope Francis To Followers: “Koran And Holy Bible Are The Same“. I couldn’t get luckier than that, as this excerpt shows:

During his hour-long speech, a smiling Pope Francis was quoted telling the Vatican’s guests that the Koran, and the spiritual teachings contained therein, are just as valid as the Holy Bible.

“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each other’s beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by. We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God”.

the lord commandeth1 copyOf course there is debate whether plagiarism is involved and some stories diverge in the Koran, but the murderous teachings are the same.

Perhaps it comes down to branding something like Pepsi and Coke as the same drink but with a different name, though both in existence to purely make a profit. Muslim and Christians are all but capitalists in their own right too, by tithing followers in exchange for a product called ‘Solace from God’ and the more followers the greater the profit. (One only has to look at the Vatican where Cardinal Pell found a very lazy 3 billion dollars that wasn’t accounted for).

And so it goes: America (for example – and the best one) starts wars and we become hostile when the folk who have had American bombs rained on them turn around and inflict carnage in our cities, and since the Iraq war we are seeing the second coming of exodus but for these refugees there is no promised land, the borders are closed and refugee haters, Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Shorten, Abbott and Turnbull have ensured our borders are closed but the government will determine who comes here and under what circumstances … and as long as they are Christian.

 

Against radicalisation

By Barry Hindess

My title might seem to suggest an hostility to radicalisation, that is, to the thing itself – and thus as endorsing the general thrust, if not the actual detail, of Australian public policy towards what is widely seen as the threat of radicalisation. ‘Radicalisation’ is too often presented as something that happens to young people, often turning them into potentially violent extremists. Rather, it should be seen as an ugly figment of the security imagination unfettered, as this imagination so often seems to be, by serious thought. Accordingly, my title reflects an objection to the term ‘radicalisation’ and the ideas it represents.

While it might seem that ‘radicalisation’ could happen to any of us, that whatever views we might presently hold – green, liberal, socialist or conservative, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or atheist – could become more ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’, when these terms are used without qualification they almost invariably target Islam. This is a problem that Malcolm Turnbull’s inclusive response to the recent Parramatta shooting shares with his predecessor Tony Abbott’s more confrontational stance. In a recent interview with ABC Radio National (PM, October 5 at 18.10), Turnbull insisted on the ‘need to counter radicalisation’ before going on to say that ‘We have to work with the Muslim community in particular very collaboratively … They are our absolutely necessary partners in combating this type of extremist violence.’ Here radicalisation and extremist violence are clearly viewed as issues that arise within the Muslim community, which is why they are ‘our absolutely necessary partners in combating’ them.

However, there are familiar varieties of extremism and of radicalism that are in no sense Islamic. Those of us who watched the recent Bendigo Mosque protests, whether in the flesh or, as in my case, through the security of our television screens, will have observed a truly frightening level of hatred and aggression on the part of some of the protestors. We have yet to see our leaders take a stand against the radicalisation of such people. There are Bhuddist extremists in Myanmar who terrorise the Rohingya Muslim minority. And again, there are militant evangelical Christian extremists in parts of Africa and in North and South America who are not often seen as posing a threat to the Western way of life. There are small groups of these Christian extremists in Australia but, whatever they may do to each other, they generally leave the rest of us in peace.

Leaving religion to one side, we often see radicalism and extremism in political life. At one time, political radicalism was expected of young people – at least, among those of a certain class, a class that allowed its members the luxury of experimenting with political allegiances. The French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau is reputed to have said ‘My son is 22 years old. If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then’. Clemenceau’s comments suggest both an awareness that radicalisation might happen among the young and what now seems a remarkably optimistic response: give it time and it will likely pass.

More immediate examples of political extremism are neo-liberalism and the anti-refugee practices promoted by our two major political parties. The former is a doctrine that promotes radical economic change throughout the world – the privatisation of public assets and deregulation and marketisation of anything that moves. Margaret Thatcher did not come into the world as a neo-liberal extremist but, grew into it in her years as a politician. In other words, she was radicalised. Similarly for the IPA ‘s benighted publicists. Neo-liberal extremism poses a real threat to most people in the West, and to the rest of the world too. It is alive and kicking in the Coalition and, despite Kevin Rudd’s essays in The Monthly, still has disturbing levels of support within the Labor Party.

Australia’s refugee regime is a threat, whose brutality has been well-documented, to the well-being of anyone in its clutches. It is a clear case of irreligious Western extremism, suggesting that both those who run the regime’s camps and those who established them must have been radicalised, perhaps by the thought that being seen to be tough on refugees was a prerequisite of career advancement and/or political success. It is tempting to say something similar about Western military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, ostensibly to counter the threat of terrorism at its source. The manifest failure of these interventions and their counter-productive effects have lead, with the partial exception of Afghanistan, not to serious withdrawal from the interventions themselves but rather to their intensification (or radicalisation).

Another problem is that the term is not well-defined. Both here and in North America where it seems to have originated, it is little more than a reflection of the political concerns of those who use it. It refers to a process identified by its alleged results. Leaving aside the well publicised actions of Western powers in the Middle East, whatever else results in radicalism among Muslims is denounced as radicalisation. As often happens with public policy fads, far too many academics have identified themselves as ‘radicalisation’ specialists, thereby overlooking their responsibility to promote intellectual rigour in public life.

My point is not to deny that talk of radicalisation gestures towards a real problem or problems but it is to suggest that we should examine these problems more carefully before seeking actively to address them. We know that young people and more than a few of their elders, finding themselves alienated from the societies in which they live, sometimes seek support elsewhere and it is hardly surprising that this happens within the Muslim community. The reasons for this alienation and   responses to it may be many and various, sometimes including ill-informed talk of ‘radicalism’, ‘extremism’ or ‘fundamentalism’ and the intemperate actions of our governments. The politically-charged notion of radicalisation has little to offer our understanding of these issues.

Barry Hindess
School of Politics and International Relations,
Australian National University, Canberra

 

Fool me once….

Watching the Abbott government is like watching the rerun of a movie with the same script but worse actors.

Consider Howard in 2001 as he approached an election.  The government had performed very badly in opinion polls and a series of by-elections throughout 2001, largely due to a slump in the dollar and loss of business confidence.

In late August, a Norwegian ship, the MV Tampa, picked up 440 stranded asylum-seekers when their boat sank in the Indian Ocean. The Tampa planned to bring the boat people to Australia in accordance with their wishes, but the Howard government refused to allow the ship access to an Australian port. The issue of border protection gained strong prominence, as unauthorised migration had been increasing for some years.

The former second-in-command of the SAS counter-terrorism squad, Labor MP Peter Tinley, said sending SAS troops in to deal with the Tampa was a complete overreaction.

“I can’t help but feel the PM John Howard viewed the SAS as something that would resonate politically to the message of border security,” he said.  “You can’t amp it up more in the public’s mind than saying ‘We’re going to send in the SAS, we’ll show you how tough we are on border security’.”

The former head of Military Public Affairs, Brigadier Gary Bornholt, says the asylum seekers on board were never a threat to Australia.

“In Defence it wasn’t a big deal, because these numbers of people were very, very small and that’s why they didn’t represent a security threat,” he said.

This was followed by public allegations by Howard government ministers in October 2001, in the lead-up to a federal election, that seafaring asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in a presumed ploy to secure rescue and passage to Australia.

The Australian Senate Select Committee for an inquiry into a certain maritime incident later found that no children had been at risk of being thrown overboard and that the government had known this prior to the election. The government was criticised for misleading the public and cynically “(exploiting) voters’ fears of a wave of illegal immigrants by demonising asylum-seekers”.

Although reports indicated that the strain of being towed was the proximate cause of the asylum seeker boat eventually sinking, in 2007, John Howard asserted that the asylum seekers “irresponsibly sank the damn boat, which put their children in the water”.

The government’s handling of this and other events involving unauthorised arrivals worked to its advantage. The Tampa affair had led the government to adopt stricter border protection measures to prevent unauthorised arrivals from reaching Australia by boat. Polls indicated the measures had public support. The government was able to portray itself as “strong” on border protection measures and its opponents as “weak”.

When it came to information made public by the Defence Department, former head of publicity Jenny McKenry revealed details were carefully filtered.

“We were told that there was to be nothing in the public forum which would humanise these people. We were quite stunned,” she said.

In addition, on 11 September, the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon thrust national security to the forefront of the election campaign. Howard, who was in Washington at the time, immediately committed to unqualified support for George W. Bush.

”Certainly, being on the spot had a powerful effect on me. I knew how shocked and bewildered the Americans were, although everybody was very calm. Everybody understood that this was a game-changer.”

The day after the attack Howard flew back to Australia with US Ambassador Tom Schieffer on Air Force Two, the Vice President’s aircraft, which had been made available to him. After a telephone conversation with his Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, while “high above the Pacific Ocean”, Howard informed Schieffer that, for the first time in 50 years, the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked. In America’s hour of need Australia would not stand idly by. Shortly after, President Bush announced the War on Terror and signalled that a war with Afghanistan was not far off.

The “legally nonsensical” – to use Robert Garran’s phrase – but symbolically rich decision to invoke the ANZUS Treaty resembled more a romantic, feudal oath of fealty than a coolly considered diplomatic act. From that moment until the present day, during the war on Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and now the fight against IS, Australia would prove itself to be the most impeccably faithful ally of the US in the War on Terror.

According to the US National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, Australia “clamoured”, as it turned out successfully, to be invited to participate in the invasion force. The moment John Howard had been waiting for during his entire political life had finally arrived.

Canberra bombarded us with tales of Iraq’s vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; Iraq’s well-developed nuclear plans; Saddam’s links with Osama bin Laden; the Saddam–Hitler analogy; the irrelevance of the UN; the perfidy of the French; the futility of weapons inspections.

The immediate reaction in the polls included a record high approval rating for a Liberal prime minister and overwhelming support for committing Australian troops to Afghanistan – a fact that did not slip by Tony Abbott who was himself in danger of losing his seat of Warringah to a very good independent in the upcoming election.

Fears of terrorism were mixed in with the asylum seeker debate – a ploy criticised by the retired Commander of Australian Theatre with the Navy, Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie.

“It seemed to me to be a funny way to get to Australia if you were a terrorist. There are other easier ways to get into Australia than spend six months in Nauru,” he said.

The polls turned around considerably by election day on November 10, 2001 and the Howard government won a third term convincingly.

Ironically, at the time, the Australian Wheat Board was paying bribes to the Iraqi government.  The Howard government either knew what was happening and is covering it up or was guilty of culpable negligence and incompetence.

Abbott’s script is identical even though his backdrops are flashier (or is that flaggier),  even down to begging to be the first to go fight and a disturbing willingness to hand over money to corrupt regimes.  I can only hope that Abbott’s rerun gets panned by the critics and that voters walk out on his theatre of terror.  Fool me once….

To paraphrase our Prime Minister for fear and loathing:

The voters are coming for the government with a simple message: we will not “submit”.  You can’t negotiate with a government like this. You can only fight it.

Is ISIS a threat to national security?

Tony Abbott has repeatedly decried the “apocalyptic death cult” ISIS as a threat to our national security but is that true?

Do they present a military threat to, or engage in political coercion in, Australia?

Do they threaten our economic security, energy security, or environmental security?

Perhaps, to a very small degree, yes, but is the risk worth the investment?

Authorities believe that around 150 Australians are currently fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, making the country the highest foreign per capita contributor to the violence according to Time.

Speaking to the ABC, Julie Bishop said “This is one of the most disturbing developments in our domestic security in quite some time.  There’s a real danger that these extremists also come back home as trained terrorists and pose a threat to our security.”

I guess so.  But none of them have returned and carried out a successful attack here.  Apparently some threatened/planned to and got locked up, which tells me that our security forces have adequate resources to protect us from organised domestic threats.

What they cannot, and will never be able to, protect us from is random attacks carried out by people with mental illnesses.  The man who carried out the Lindt café siege was well known to authorities and deemed not a threat but he snapped, just like the woman in Cairns who, the next day, stabbed to death 8 children.  Where is the report on our mental health industry which has been sitting on someone’s desk since last November?

As has been pointed out countless times, domestic violence is a far greater threat to Australian society, taking a far greater toll, yet compare the money devoted to addressing it with the billions spent on a foreign war and increased surveillance in Australia.

As far as threats to our economic. energy, or environmental security are concerned, our government, in cahoots with big business, pose a far greater threat on that front.

As Jocelyn Chey of the Australian Institute of International Affairs points out,

  1. There is no UN agreement on this campaign
  2. Our Defence policy is to concentrate on regional issues
  3. No clear goals or outcomes have been defined so that the campaign, as the PM has admitted, may well drag on for years
  4. Civilian casualties are likely to be high
  5. Australia’s security threat will be increased
  6. The drain on our budget is hard to justify when the public is told that there is a national emergency and social services are being cut.

Robert O’Neill, from the same organisation argues that

“The size and nature of the conflict which is building there and in Syria suggests that we should be employing political, social and economic means to help local governments and religious groups to settle their differences. The local people have to do it – we cannot force a solution on the region with military means. Military intervention on the scale proposed is likely to undercut other efforts without achieving a lasting result. So it would be better not to send forces now; let us not forget that the lives of the men and women that we send are on the line in such a deployment. We should be very careful about balancing the risks they have to run in the line of duty with the worth of the goals that a forced deployment might achieve.”

Tony Abbott has repeatedly said they we were invited to take part in military action by the Iraqi government.  This is not true.  In his obscene haste to deflect attention from domestic problems by confecting a threat to “national security”, Abbott even caught Obama off guard.  Our defence force was sent over with no diplomatic agreement and then spent months cooling their heels in the United Arab Emirates while our government tried to nut out a deal to allow them to carry out military operations in countries that had no desire to see foreign troops invade yet again.

Many people have argued that our previous involvement in Iraq, combined with draconian sanctions, has led to the rise of ISIS.  Whilst I agree it has been a contributing factor, so have many other issues like ethnic and sectarian violence and discrimination, political disenfranchisement, the subjugation of women, government corruption, poverty and lack of education.

One thing I find very hard to reconcile is Abbott’s rhetoric about an apocalyptic death cult with his desire to return asylum seekers to face it.  Far from supporting those who reject the violence and ideology of extremist cults like ISIS, we revile them, lock them up, and then try to send them back to the horror they risked their lives to flee.

To risk the lives of people who have fled this torment, and now the lives of our armed forces for a battle we cannot win, all for political gain, is unconscionable.  What do we hope to achieve?

As Tony simplistically pointed out, this fight is often baddies vs baddies.  Many of those involved have legitimate grievances against their oppressive, non-representative governments.  We have no business being there other than to offer humanitarian aid.

This has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with our subservience to the US coupled with a desire to deflect attention from our government’s inability to do their job.

The Maintenance of Madness: How Australia Funded a Warlord in Afghanistan

The Federal Cabinet has approved the deployment of about 300 additional Australian troops to the Middle East to help train Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. The deployment will be for two years from the middle of may, and the troops join 200 existing special forces troops already in deployment in the region.

The Australian contingent will be joined by more than 100 New Zealand military personnel. They will be based at Taji military complex north of Baghdad, which is considered an “enduring base” by the United States Military, one of 14 such bases in the country.

Prime Minister Abbott made statements regarding the deployment at a press conference on the 3rd of March this year.

“We won’t have a combat role. It’s a training mission, not a combat mission. This is not just about Iraq, this is about our national security.”

A casual glance at the history of conflict in the Middle East will show that military intervention does not, as the government claims, increase national security, in fact it performs the exact opposite function, creating heavily armed and motivated militia groups with the spurious justification of prior Western aggression for their continued aggression.

Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson has let it slip that highly trained military personnel, likely indirectly trained by US or Coalition forces, make up the leadership of ISIS:

“[ISIS] is led by experienced former Iraqi generals and others with substantial military experience.”

ISIS is, in effect, the current incarnation of AQI, or Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a branch of the central body of Al-Qaeda with links to Osama Bin Laden and notable members of the terrorist organisation. Older readers and the more historically astute will remember that the United States was responsible for training and arming mujahideen forces against the then Soviet Union during its war in Afghanistan, including Bin Laden and his compatriots, who later became instrumental in forming the modern day iteration of Al-Qaeda.

The official reason for deployment is to help the Iraqi government prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against Islamic State and regain control of its territory.

Abbott noted that Australian personnel will “not be working with irregulars, we don’t work with informal, armed groups.”

It turns out that this statement is entirely false and doesn’t accord with the documentary record.


Around November 2010, under the then Gillard government, six senior militia fighters loyal to Afghan warlord Matiullah Khan were flown to Australia to train with elite special forces as part of a “covert strategy to strengthen military operations against the Taliban.”

Matiullah Khan is known in the press as “Australia’s biggest ally in Afghanistan”. His uncle is former Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed Khan, who has a reputation for corruption, brutality and double dealing.

In a few short years he went from being a taxi driver to a millionaire running security for NATO convoys in the area. He was appointed chief of police in Uruzgan province, despite numerous allegations of human rights abuses. There are reports that he has dealings with drug smugglers and Taliban insurgents.

We have contracted with his private army, Kandak Amniante Uruzgan, to provide security services to the bases around his compound in the Uruzgan province.

Under an arrangement with the Ministry of the Interior, the Australian Government pays for roughly 600 of Matiullah’s 1,500 fighters, including Matiullah himself, despite the fact that the force is not under government control or oversight.

Matiullah Kahn was killed in Kabul earlier this year in March by a suicide bomber.

From the Pakistani Daily Times:

“Khan’s militia has been involved in mass murder, rape and abductions of men and women.

The New York Times reported that he was earning $ 2.5 million a month through highway robbery, abduction, drug trafficking and extortion. Once, Khan warned his opponents that he could eliminate them by purchasing suicide bombers with the money he received from the Australian army.

WikiLeaks of the US embassy pinned him as a stand-over merchant, a wealthy warlord and drug trafficker.

Australian intelligence knew he was a corrupt war criminal but, despite the US army’s opposition, the Australian army and intelligence corps lobbied to make him an inspector general of the Uruzgan police in 2011.”

From Green Left Weekly, citing a story published in the Dutch Daily, De Pers:

“The extent of Matiullah’s brutality was shown in a massacre reported on by the July 18 Dutch daily De Pers.

The paper said the previous month, Matiullah’s army made a surprise attack on a meeting of 80 people in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province. Five people were killed in the ensuing shootout.

The remaining 75 were knifed to death.

Mohammed Daoud, the district chief of Chora, told De Pers: “As torture, they were first stabbed in the shoulders and legs. The corpses were treated with chemicals to make them unrecognisable.””

In this interview released several days before his death, the contents of Matiullah’s office suite are described as containing “plaques of appreciation from the Australian Federal Police” and a “boxed boomerang – a gift from Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, formerly head of the Australian Defence Force.

From the same interview, detailing a raid on a nearby village by Jan Mohammed Khan and Matiullah Khan:

“One man told me how his son was made to lie on the ground – and then they drove a truck over his head.”

These accounts are horrifying, and our complicity in them more so. Indirect involvement in these abuses, though despicable, could be rationalised as a product of the idea that we are working towards some greater good, and indeed, it seems this is the justification for our involvement from many of the sources mentioned in the above interview and publications.

Our direct involvement in war crimes in the region however, cannot be rationalised away.

Reports from The Age in 2009 describe cover-ups by the ADF of attacks on civilians by SAS soldiers in Iraq around 2006-7. The attacks in November 2007 resulted in the murders of three men, two women and one child in a house that allegedly belonged to an insurgent.

In the same month, the newspaper reported the use of SAS patrols as death squads, carrying out assassinations in Afghanistan.


One has to ask the question: how exactly does action of this sort confer an increase in our national security? If the Iraqi military is to be trained by the same forces responsible for the financial support of a local warlord and who have engaged in war crimes of their own, I don’t see it as unreasonable to suppose that ethics and adherence to international law will be covered as an afterthought, if at all.

The approach of fighting fire with fire has been an abject failure in stemming the tide of radicalised Islamic extremism in the Middle Eastern theatre, and this new deployment of troops into the region is simply more of the same.

We cannot hope to bring peace to the Middle East with the sword.


This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

Complaint against John Howard to the International Criminal Court

Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard has been accused of war crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

A document titled Complaint against John Howard to the International Criminal Court has been sent to The AIMN by a member of the SEARCH Foundation an on-line copy of the document can be found here. Permission has been given by one of the authors to reproduce the document, but due to its length (75 pages) we have reproduced a summary.

Early in 2012 the Committee of the SEARCH Foundation resolved to submit a complaint to the International Criminal Court (the ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, against John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, for his decision to send Australian forces to invade and wage war against Iraq.

The ICC is a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and for the crime of aggression.  The Court was set up through the Stature of Rome which was drafted and signed on 17 July 1998, and came into force on 1 July, 2002.

Australia signed the Statute on 9 December 1998, ratified it on July 1 2002, so as to be bound as from 1 September 2002.

Article 17 of the Statute, which deals with ‘Issues of admissibility’ prescribes that every step of the domestic jurisdiction of a country be exhausted before the Court may take jurisdiction over a complaint.

The SEARCH Foundation believes that it has satisfied the preconditions for admissibility.

Here are the steps taken

On 16 March 2012 the Search Foundation sent  complaint to Commissioner Tony Negus APM, the head of the Australian Federal Police. The complaint is substantially the same as the one which would be sent to the Court. As far as the domestic jurisdiction is concerned, the complaint was based on Mr Howard’s violation of Division 268 of the Australian Criminal Code Act 1995. That Division ‘received’ the substance of Article 6: Genocide; Article 7: Crimes against humanity, and Article 8: War crimes, as contained in the Statute of Rome.

The Office of the AFP Commissioner replied to the effect that the complaint had been sent ‘for assessment’ and the subsequent response concluded that:

. . . An assessment by the AFP Legal Branch, of the information you have supplied, does not disclose an offence against Division 268 of the Code, and therefore the matters raised cannot be investigated by the AFP. You may wish to seek further independent legal advice to clarify this.

The SEARCH Foundation took time to reconsider the matter, to seek further legal advice, and resolved to submit a similar complaint to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

The complaint was sent on 9 May 2013 to Mr Robert Bromwich SC, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

The reply contained the following:

. . . The CDPP has considered the material you have provided and will not initiate a prosecution of Mr Howard based on this material. The material is not a brief of evidence, containing admissible evidence against Mr Howard. I also note that the allegations set out in your letter do not appear to fall within the terms of any offence contained in Division 268 of the Criminal Code.

The SEARCH Foundation resolved that as all avenues of domestic jurisdiction having been attempted without success, time had come to approach the International Criminal Court.

The complaint

I have the honour hereby to file with you and your office the Complaint against Mr John Winston Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, who is responsible for sending Australian military personnel into war, and into waters of, the Republic of Iraq, pursuant to a 17 March 2003 decision of the Australian Cabinet to join in the invasion of the Republic of Iraq.

As a result of this decision, I believe that offenses were committed, and that these offenses are punishable under Article 6 Genocide, Article 7 Crimes against Humanity, and Article 8 War Crimes of the Rome Statute.

I ask you initiate an investigation under Article 15, with a view to issuing a warrant of arrest for Mr John Winston Howard.

Australia’s ratification of the Rome Statute came into force on 1 September 2002, and these crimes were committed after that date. The offenses we enumerate are most serious.

On 16 March 2012, our organisation made a complaint in these same terms to both the Australian Federal Police, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating breaches of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 which was amended to implement Australia’s ratification of the Rome Statute i.e. Chapter 8 – Offences against humanity and related offences, Division 268 – ‘Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against the administration of the justice of the International Criminal Court’. That Division of the Code ‘receives’ the provisions of the Rome Statute of 1998, as amended.

On 23 March 2012, the Office of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner acknowledged receipt of our complaint and on May 3 2012, the AFP Operations Coordination Centre stated that our information did not disclose an offence against Division 268 and so declined to investigate.

On 9 May 2013, after consulting with many lawyers about how to proceed, we sent our complaint to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the other agency which can consider a prosecution under Division 268.

On 18 June 2013, the DPP replied that it would not initiate a prosecution of Mr Howard, noting that information provided was not a ‘brief of evidence’ and that the allegations we made did not appear to fall within the terms of any offence under Division 268.

Under Article 17(b) of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor cannot investigate if:

“The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute . . . “

However, we have demonstrated that the Australian State has not investigated this complaint. We argue that this is because the Australian State is unwilling to prosecute a former Prime Minister, since it is very clear to us that the invasion of Iraq directly produce breaches of Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, as we set out below.

Therefore we consider that this complaint is open to your investigation under Article 17.

(A brief summary of) The Facts

On 11 September 2001 Mr Howard was in Washington DC. USA, on a state visit while the terrorists on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon were taking place. The day after the attacks he is reported as having declared support for the USA in retaliation: “We will help them. We will support actions they take to properly retaliate in relation to these acts of bastardry against their citizens and against what they stand for”.

Five days later the Australian Government, with the support of the Opposition Labor Party, passed a motion in the Australian Parliament invoking the ANZUS military alliance with the United States on the ground that the criminal actions of Al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation responsible for the attacks of 11 September 2001, were the equivalent to a state “attack on the United States”.

. . .

In January 2002 Mr. Howard was in Washington and endorsed former President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech, in which the President labelled Iran, North Korea and Iraq as an “axis of evil”, on the grounds that the three countries possessed “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs).

In June 2002 Mr. Howard returned to Washington to declare support for the Bush doctrine of “pre-emptive strike”, a doctrine which repudiated the entire framework of post-second world war international relations and asserted that the United States had the right to attack any country it deemed a threat.

. . .

On 17 September 2002 Mr. Howard presented the ONA report to Parliament and asserted that, unless Iraq was “disarmed”, its weapons of mass destruction would pose “a direct, undeniable and lethal threat to Australia and its people.”

. . .

On 26 February 2003 forty-three Australian international law experts publicly warned that:

“The weak and ambiguous evidence presented to the international community by the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to justify a pre-emptive strike underlines the practical danger of a doctrine of pre-emption. A principle of pre-emption would allow national agendas completely to destroy the system of collective security contained in Chapter Seven of the UN Charter and return us to the pre-1945 era, where might equalled right.”

They further warned that:

“The International Criminal Court now has jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity … It attributes criminal responsibility to individuals responsible for planning military action that violates international humanitarian law and those who carried it out. It specifically extends criminal liability to heads of state, leaders of governments, parliamentarians, government officials and military personnel.”

The Australian Government, led by Mr. Howard, defied legal opinion. Parliament was adjourned on 8 March 2003. In the late hours of 17 March 2003, Mr. Howard and his Cabinet voted to authorise Australian air, land and naval personnel to attack Iraq. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage made an official request for the involvement of Australian troops late on the night of March 20. It later became known that Australian special operations troops, with Cabinet authorisation, had entered Iraq as much as 30 hours before the outbreak of war.

. . .

The House of Representatives Official Hansard records later that day, at 2.03pm, that Prime Minister Howard moved a resolution asking parliament to support the Cabinet decision. The record reads in part:

“This morning I announced that Australia had joined a coalition, led by the United States, which intends to disarm Iraq of its prohibited weapons of mass destruction.”

The ‘facts’ – and they are comprehensive with links provided to the ‘evidence’ – continue for over a dozen pages and conclude with:

As a result of the 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been at least 105,439 – 115,149 civilians killed, and the Wikileaks war logs suggest a further 13,750, according to Iraq Body Count.

Nature of the complaint

The establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court with the capacity to investigate and prosecute genocide, the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was a long standing human rights and foreign policy objective of the Australian Government.

The Commonwealth of Australia signed the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court ‘the I.C.C.’, on 9 December 1998. It deposited its instrument of ratification on 1 July 2002.

Australia’s instrument of ratification includes a declaration affirming the primacy of Australia’s criminal jurisdiction in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. It outlines the conditions under which a person in Australian custody or control would be surrendered to the Court and clarifies Australia’s interpretation of the crimes within the Statute. The declaration has full effect in Australian law and is not a reservation. It reinforces safeguards already built into the Statute to preserve Australian sovereignty over its criminal jurisdiction.

The provisions of the Rome Statute have been ‘received’ into Australian domestic legislation, which must be read in a way consistent with that Statute; and that includes the provisions of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act [No. 12 of] 1995, particularly those of Chapter 8 – Offences against humanity and related offences, Division 268 – Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against the administration of the justice of the International Criminal Court.

The provisions referred to hereafter are, in order of their appearance in this complaint, reproduced seriatim in ANNEX 26.

By the operation of Art. 12 (1) Australia has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The Accused is a subject of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Accused’s criminal policy and practice could be characterised as an “act of aggression”, the “supreme international crime” as early defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg” (hereafter IMT), and thus in violation of the United Nations Charter’s Art. 2 (3) which prescribes the use of peaceful means to settle international disputes between Members, Art.2 (4) which proscribes the use of force against sovereign states, Art. 33 which sets down the duty to exhaust peaceful settlement of disputes and Art. 39 which states that the power to determine threats to peace or acts of aggression rests with the Security Council. [ANNEX 26]

The Accused knew or was in a position to know that no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.

The Accused had no legal justification to participate in the “coalition of the willing” in a war against Iraq under Security Council Resolution 1441, because that Resolution could not “reasonably be interpreted [as the Davids Commission found] as authorising individual member states to use military force against Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s Resolutions.”

The Accused rendered himself liable of endangering the international peace and security of the people of Iraq by causing the death of untold numbers of Iraqi people, by authorising the destruction, burning and looting of priceless historical treasures including those of two ancient civilisations which are the common inheritance of entire humanity.

The Accused is responsible for:

  • acts of aggression, as defined in United Nations G. A. Res. 3314, Art. 1 (1974),

  • breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights,

  • crimes against peace, as defined in Art. 6(a) of the Charter of the IMT at Nuremberg and Art. 16 of the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996),

  • war crimes, as defined in Art. 6 (b) of the Charter of the IMT at Nuremberg and in Art. 8 of the I.C.C. Statute,

  • crimes against humanity, as defined in Art. 6(c) of the Charter of the IMT at Nuremberg and Art. 7 of the I.C.C. Statute,

  • crimes against Prisoners of War, including acts in contravention of the Article 8, and against the Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) and Arts. 13 and 14 of the Geneva Conventions Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1949), and their 1977 Protocols,

  • crimes against civilians in contravention of Article 7 and Article 8, including the targeting of civilian populations and civilian infrastructure such as markets and residential areas, causing extensive destruction of property not justified by military objectives, using cluster bombs, using depleted uranium weapons; and acting in violation of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949) and the relative Protocol 1, Art. 54 on the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, and Art. 55 on protection of the natural environment.

The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction. Subject to any other ground that you may find in the course of your investigation, the Accused is responsible for flagrant, repeated and longstanding violation of the provisions of the I.C.C. Statute Arts. 5 (a) (b), (c) and (d), Article 6 (a), (b), (c), Article 7 (d), (i), (j), (k), and Article 8.

Request

I respectfully request that you as the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court initiate an investigation with a view to issuing a warrant of arrest for Mr. John Winston Howard, on the basis of the information that I have provided and which is in my view sufficient for that purpose.

At the time of publication of the document – August 2014 – there had not yet been a response.

Related articles:

Could John Howard be citizen-arrested for his role in the Iraq war? (The Guardian)

Howard is war criminal, says former colleague (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Howard accused of war crimes over Iraq troop deployment (The ABC)

John Howard’s Iraq War Fantasy (New Matilda)

Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

If there was ever any doubt, it has now been undeniably shown. The ultimate aim of conservative government is to acquire ultimate power unrestricted by considerations of proof or evidence.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that Attorney-General Senator George Brandis will be bringing a new batch of laws to Cabinet next week dealing with the subject of terrorism. Amongst the mooted provisions is the idea that Australian travellers to Syria, Iraq or other declared zones must be “presumed” to be involved in terrorism. More importantly, the onus will be on the returnee to prove that they were not involved in terrorist activities.

The new legislation appears to be in response to the recent media reports of  two Australians, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, assumed to be fighting with jihadis in Syria. Nobody can deny that the apparent actions of these men – their alleged crimes – are heinous and deserving of punishment. With that in mind, it is important to remember that an Australian committing a crime in an overseas jurisdiction cannot be charged and punished for that crime when they return to this country. That is why we have extradition laws. If these men have committed war crimes, or if the “war” in Syria is illegal and their actions constitute murder, they were carried out in a foreign jurisdiction; the killing of foreign nationals in a foreign nation does not make them guilty of any crime in Australia.

But not if Senator Brandis has his way. With the new provisions in law, if Sharrouf and Elomar were to return to Australia they are automatically guilty. They could be arrested at the airport and brought to court on the presumption of involvement with terrorist groups, something for which there does exist Australian law. Currently Australia does not apply mandatory minimum sentences for terrorism offenses, but conservative governments continually seek to impose these.

Some might not seek to protest about this outcome for Sharrouf and Elomar. It seems beyond serious dispute that these men have contravened our understanding of civilised society, have been involved in activities that should be punished, and would be extradited for foreign justice if Syria had such a thing as a functioning legal system. But laws drafted to apply to one or two people may still have wrenching outcomes for others.

It’s not a long time since the Campbell Newman government in Queensland implemented their highly controversial “illegal bikie gangs” laws, which coincidentally also include provisions to reverse the onus of proof. Some protested about this at the time, but protests fell on deaf ears and the laws still exist and are still being applied. It would be salutary not to forget them. Under these laws, belonging to a motorcycle gang and simply being in the same place as two others from the same club is sufficient to make you automatically guilty of illegal association. Immediately and without appeal you can then be arrested, held for thirty days in solitary confinement and confined for twenty-three hours out of every twenty-four. That automatically then becomes a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 100 days imprisonment, unless you can prove that the organisation you belong to (not you personally) is not engaged in criminal activity. In other words, you would need to be able to prove that your bikie gang did not exist for the purposes of bar fights. Whilst it seems logical that bar fights might be an unintended outcome of any gathering of people, rather than any specific gang, proving that the group does not support or promote that activity is nearly impossible. Additionally, if one defendant can prove that, it must automatically apply to all others defendants from the same gang. If you can prove that, you are effectively negating the State’s classification of the gang as a lawless association. There are so many flaws and ethical conundrums inherent in this set of laws that we can barely scratch the surface here.

Presumption of innocence

Presumption of innocence is fundamental to our system of law. I don’t normally quote from Wikipedia, but in this case the principle is so basic and universal that I will use its definition: “the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. In many nations, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.” Guilty beyond reasonable doubt. We accept this condition. We rely on it, should we ever have the misfortune to be caught up in the legal system. Innocent until proven guilty has been the cornerstone of Australian legal practice since its foundation.

“Tony Abbott declined to rule out a reversed onus of proof, but said any changes would be “consistent with our traditional principles of justice and freedom”. This is a pure oxymoron; it is impossible to remain consistency with our traditional principles when you’re talking about reversing the cornerstone.

How do you prove innocence? Even our courts don’t currently try to do that. As others have pointed out, the best you can hope for in a modern trial is a verdict of “Not Guilty”. This does not equate to innocence. If you cannot be proved to have committed the crime, you are not guilty; you may still have committed the crime, but our system deliberately errs on the side of caution. The presumption of innocence exists because it is better to let guilty parties go free than to lock up innocents. This is a fundamental component of our understanding of jurisprudence and to reverse it means that people will be caught up in and eaten by the system. Of course, the Coalition has form in this – look no further than the case of Mohamed Haneef.

If you don’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about

Oh yes you do. Let’s consider for a moment the kinds of people who might visit a “declared zones”. Certainly, there will be a small number – an exceedingly small number – who travel to conflict areas for the purposes of violent jihad, or just for kicks. There are mercenaries, even from Australia, who fight for the highest bidder, not being beholden to Allah but simply seeking to parlay their skills into profit. Putting aside the ethics of the equation, if jihadis and violent thrillseekers and mercenaries are caught up in these laws, that’s probably the intended outcome.

The Greens and Labor suggest that these changes may also apply to aid workers and journalists. Of course, the Coalition doesn’t actually believe in the work that aid workers (reduction in Australia’s aid budget) or journalists (culture of secrecy) do, so they possibly think these are acceptable outcomes.

But what about family members? There are people living in Australia who originate from conflict areas. Some of these happen to be Muslim, and have relatives living in peaceful cities in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or other countries otherwise beset by war and unrest. People do travel, and people do visit these countries for reasons other than violent jihad. It’s not a stretch at all to think that a Muslim man, visiting his family in Baghdad, might return to find himself forced to prove that he did not, while he was there, consort with militants. That can be very hard to prove. Read: impossible.

How about tourists? Iraq and Syria, Turkey and Egypt, India and Pakistan – there are wondrous works of nature and of man in these places, and Australians travel there every year to visit them. Are all of these tourists, young and old, single and married, Christian and Muslim and Buddhist, to be automatically assumed guilty of terrorism offences?

If the answer is no, the question becomes How do you tell which ones? Only the Muslims? Perhaps any Muslims between certain ages? If you need to prove that somebody is appropriate to have laws applied against them, then you should have to prove it. There are no circumstances under which a blanket rule like this can be applied without it either applying to everyone, or basically giving carte blanche to bureaucrats to ignore otherwise necessary burdens of proof. Relying on instinct and gut feeling have been shown, time and again, to be insufficiently rigorous methods of jailing people.

Finally, how do you identify a “declared zone”? Iraq and Syria are currently topical. In recent years we have seen unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen. There have been protests in Algeria, Morocco and Israel. There were minor protests in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Mauritania. How about Thailand? Burma? Indonesia? Bali? There is conflict and terrorist activity across the breadth of the world, including in any number of places to which Australians love to travel. Not every Australian who travels to Sri Lanka wants to be a Tamil Tiger. Not everyone who goes to Bali intends to bomb cafes. If you can accuse one such traveller of such crimes – indeed, assume their guilt unless they can prove otherwise – you have to apply it to all.

Of course, this legislation has not yet gone to Cabinet, let alone to the Parliament. There’s still plenty of time to see it changed or dropped. We can only hope that the Coalition will have the sense to take a more moderate approach; and when the current government’s intransigent lack of moderation brings these laws to the Parliament, we can only hope that the crossbench senators will see these laws for what they are – another step down the road towards a police state.

Terrorism. Enough is enough.

Image by mq.edu.au

Image by mq.edu.au

Understandably, there is much concern of late about Muslim terrorism. Individual extremist Muslims causing carnage. Then there’s Iraq and Syria. Natch. Organised Islamists. Horrible. It is untenable and we need to take action.

There is an elephant in the room. No, not an elephant. It’s a lot bigger than an elephant. It’s a big, hairy mastodon, and it’s a whopper.

The people responsible for 9/11, for the London tube bombings, for the Bali nightclub massacre, for Boston, for the butchering of Lee Rigby, for the Atlanta Olympics shooting, for the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, for the Hoddle Street Massacre, for Port Arthur. For 80% of murders and 99.99% of rapes. For the vast majority of domestic violence assaults. The group more than twice likely to commit crime.

… They all have a single trait in common.

And the time has come for us to name it.

They’re all men.

Now I know it’s not politically correct to point this out. We’re all supposed to be equal, and to discriminate against a group because one of their forty-six chromosomes happens to be faulty goes against all principles of egalitarianism. But in the face of such overwhelming evidence, ought we be so complacent?

And so I have a few modest proposals.

At the very least, we should be monitoring men. Governments should tell us if they’re living in our community, if one moves next door. Why are they allowed to cross our borders without control? Should we not insist that men be controlled, hormonally, to stop the carnage? We can do something about the testosterone and the hydrocortisone and the adrenalin. We’re good at biochemistry. We can do it by law and by force. Surely it is time.

I can hear the bleats of protest now. Oh, it’s not me! I’m a man, and I haven’t raped/murdered/massacred anyone! Yeah right. I didn’t hear YOU take to the airwaves to condemn the atrocities committed by your brothers. Why shouldn’t we tar you with the same brush?

You’re all the bloody same, admit it.

What’s that, you say? All men aren’t the same? Truly? What about women? What about Muslims? Hmm?

Please. A little consistency.

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Joe Hockey, Welfare to Work and a pack of damn lies

While researching my forthcoming post ‘Keep your hands off  the poor, Mr Hockey’ (in response to yesterday’s speech to the IPA where welfare cuts were flagged), I dug into my archives and came across this recent post exposing Joe Hockey’s contempt for the country’s disadvantaged. It should make a good prelude to my forthcoming topic. Keep it in mind.

But first . . .

It is hard to keep a lie hidden forever, especially if you don’t dust over its tracks. I’ve uncovered one from Joe Hockey. Not only was it a lie, but it was also an act of contempt from the Howard Government towards disadvantaged Australians, or indeed, all Australians.

The lie goes back awhile, back to the failed Welfare to Work (WtW) program introduced in 2005 to increase workforce participation among single parents, people with disabilities, and unemployed people aged over 50. I won’t bother with the finer details of the policy; it’s not important.

We didn’t hear much about WtW until March 2007; an election year. With the polls turning bad for Howard, success stories of the Government needed to be ‘put out there’. Apparently WtW was a great success according to Joe Hockey:

Welfare changes and a healthy job market are set to deliver the Federal Government a $500 million budget surprise this financial year as the number of people on income support payments falls faster than expected.

The Employment Minister, Joe Hockey, seized on the figures as evidence the Government’s controversial welfare and industrial relations changes were helping disadvantaged people find jobs.

Latest estimates by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations [DEWR] show income support payments will cost $21.76 billion in 2006-07, down from the $22.28 billion estimated in last year’s budget.

The largest savings are coming from a lower than expected number of people on the disability support pension [DSP] under the welfare to work changes and falling dole payments to the unemployed.

Well that was a lie but the media brought it. Let’s look at the DSP numbers for, and surrounding, 2007. Here’s a summary:

DSP Population as at June

2006: 712,163

2007: 714,156

2008: 732,367

If the figures were going up, then what happened to the $500M that was meant to be saved?

The Howard Government wanted it for something else, hence the lie that it wasn’t needed under the WtW program. My source tells me that the Secretary of DEWR, Dr Peter Boxall, was instructed to take $750M from Newstart and DSP payments as it was needed elsewhere, with no explanation given. This infuriated Boxall (a Howard appointee), but he had no option other than to ‘find’ the money, however, could only come up with $500M. My informant attests that this demand came from the top, which could only mean Hockey or even Howard himself.

It was not a political move, although it is easy to assume it might have been given it was an election year. No, it was much more sinister than that.

In February 2007 the US Vice President, Dick Cheney visited Australia and Howard offered more support to the US to help with their war in Iraq. This is what Howard offered:

. . . a strengthening of . . . training effort comprising a dedicated logistics team of roughly 50 personnel, together with about 20 extra Army training instructors to work with the Iraqi Army.

And that, it is whispered, is where the money went. It was ripped away from needy Australians to help America with their war in Iraq. Aided, by the way, with a nice little terrorist alert around the same time to help cushion the blow; to win public support. A terrorist alert, I have on advice, that was fabricated for political gain.

‘Lying and contempt’ is the LNP modus operandi.

Keep this in mind when reading my next post.

 

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