This year has been a year of great transformation. And often transformation can bring about a degree of discomfort; I don't know anybody who can say they have been immune to that this year. But like inconvenient roadworks, when the end is accomplished the disarray is transformed, leaving us enriched, with a smoother road ahead. This is the definition of evolution and perhaps this is the affliction of humankind; to evolve.
One transformation we have been witness to is an awakening of sorts. People have been paying much more attention to the workings of our country and the world, and with good reason. The Emergency Powers, and often brutal execution of these, has been the cause of more discomfort than covid-19 itself.
This awakening can be frightening for those who, as with religion, put their faith in the good of our governments, believing their intentions are honourable. Discovering that is not the case is synonymous with feeling forsaken by the Divine.
When our authorities drive a bus over our basic rights without remorse, it tends to get your attention. I don't even feel inclined to list some examples here, because some things are so obvious they go without saying.
In October the Victorian Government, via the Omnibus Bill, wanted to sneak through changes that would make detainment for pre-emptive crime a reality. But because people had awoken from the illusion that their government has their bests interests at heart, and started making some noise, applying tremendous pressure on their local MPs, the section in question was removed.
A small but critical victory was achieved.
Another month and another challenge is upon us. The Federal Defence Legislation Amendment (Enhancement of Defence Force Response to Emergencies) Bill 2020 aims to give members of the Australian Defence Force, other Defence personnel and members of foreign forces immunity from criminal or civil liability; citing that it presents some legal risk to those individuals and using their human rights as the basis of this amendment.
Australia often has foreign troops assist us in emergencies such as bush-fires, so the law itself is not the problem here. The red flag is the widening of the powers that could exonerate bad behaviour, giving ADF and foreign troopes carte blanche for careless and/or reckless conduct.
State and Territory emergency personnel have this immunity, but we say that military officers are more highly trained and more weaponised, so the burden of responsibility should be greater. By removing liability, you also remove accountability. They say it breaches their human rights, but we say this creates a perfect storm for OUR human rights to be breached, without consequences.
We have no way of knowing if these amendments signal something they have planned for us, but we cannot sit by idly and let them have their way on this. Leaving a critical term like "emergency" open for interpretation is one very compelling reason to be concerned.
You can find the legislation here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2020B00123
If you share these concerns with us, we urge you to share them with your local MP and with the senator who proposed the changes, Linda Reynolds:-
in person at Suite C, 117 Great Eastern Highway Rivervale, WA, 6103
in writing at PO Box 369 Belmont, WA, 6984
via phone on (08) 9477 5411
If the affliction of humankind is that we must evolve, then it is our duty to awaken, and to awaken others. Like change, we cannot avoid transformation, but we must defend what is right and just.
At Advocate Me, we are watching this issue closely and guarantee we will act to ensure these lines of Defence are not crossed.