Democratic rights under attack in Australia

Oppose the witch-hunt against Socialist Alternative

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 2 July 2014

The witch-hunt against Socialist Alternative is aimed at intimidating opponents of the Abbott government.

Australia: Sunday penalty rates slashed for hospitality workers

By Zac Hambides and Joshua Newsham, 23 June 2014

The decision cuts the wages of tens of thousands of casual workers who depend on Sunday penalties to supplement their low wages.

Australia: Constitutional challenge to Queensland anti-association laws

By Robert Morgan, 25 April 2014

Under the cover of “anti-bikie” laws, the legislation can be employed against any organisation that the state government deems—for its own political purposes—to be illegal.

Oppose the use of SSAF to attack student political clubs!

Defend the democratic rights of Griffith University students!

By the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (Australia), 4 April 2014

Members of political clubs at the university are being denied rights enjoyed by all other students, and attempts are being made to restrict or even proscribe their activities.

Australian refugee camp atrocity: The class issues

By Patrick O’Connor, 14 March 2014

The brutal treatment of refugees is a sharp warning of the police-state measures being prepared against the working class as a whole.

Australian government defies UN call to release refugee detainees

By Mike Head, 12 March 2014

The indefinite detention of refugees denied security clearances demonstrates the contempt for fundamental democratic rights within the Australian ruling elite.

Australia: Strong response to IYSSE campaign at University of Newcastle

By our correspondents, 7 March 2014

IYSSE members won support, campaigning against an attempted university ban on “political members” being invited onto the campus.

Australian state government bolsters “move-on” police powers

By Daniel Saul, 17 February 2014

In an attack on democratic rights, police are to be given wide powers to bar people from areas or exclude them from protests and pickets.

Australian attorney-general accuses Snowden of “endangering lives”

By Mike Head, 13 February 2014

Attorney-General Brandis amplified the earlier denunciation by Prime Minister Abbott of the NSA whistleblower as a “traitor.”

Witch-hunt against Australian ABC escalates over refugee torture allegations

By Mike Head, 8 February 2014

The government and the corporate media are seeking to create an atmosphere of wartime-like censorship.

Australian PM denounces Edward Snowden as a “traitor”

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 January 2014

Tony Abbott’s accusations against Snowden were made in the course of a McCarthy-style attack on the ABC.

Australia: Teenage girl assaulted by train ticket inspectors

By Tania Baptist, 28 December 2013

Working class youth are systematically targeted and harassed by ticket inspectors, security personnel, and police, who know they are essentially immune from prosecution.

Australian Federal Police boosts data intercept capacity

By Mike Head, 16 December 2013

“Deep packet inspection” technology allows the police to build a detailed picture of anyone’s daily life, including his or her political activities.

Australian government cancels 20 passports over Syrian conflict

By Oliver Campbell, 10 December 2013

Without any semblance of due process, the men were ordered to surrender their passports, depriving them of their right to travel.

More whistleblowers emerge in Australia’s Timor spying scandal

By Mike Head, 7 December 2013

The Abbott government is intensifying the drive to shut down East Timor’s legal case and prevent further public exposure of the surveillance network.

Former Guantánamo prisoner David Hicks speaks with the World Socialist Web Site

By Richard Phillips, 7 December 2013

Hicks talks about the legal campaign to overturn his bogus terrorism conviction and his concerns about the escalating attacks on democratic rights.

Australian government threatens lawyer with charges over Timor spying revelations

By Mike Head, 5 December 2013

The extraordinary threat underscores how far the government will go to prevent further exposures of the vast US-Australia surveillance network.

US tracks billions of cell phone location records daily

By Eric London, 5 December 2013

New revelations from Edward Snowden reveal that the US government collects five billion pieces of data per day on the exact location and movement of cell phone users across the globe.

Indonesian president threatens “strategic partnership” with US-Australia over spying affair

By Patrick O’Connor, 20 November 2013

Jakarta’s response points to the far reaching geo-strategic implications of the latest leaked documents from Edward Snowden.

Australia: Sweeping security powers for G20 summit in Queensland

By Ellen Blake, 1 November 2013

Next year’s scheduled summit in Brisbane and Cairns is being used to set new police-state precedents.

Australia: Queensland government legislates draconian “anti-bikie” laws

By Mike Head, 23 October 2013

The Queensland legislation marks an escalation of the far-reaching “criminal association” laws passed by state governments since 2001, which erode basic democratic rights.

New Australian government appoints military commander to oversee anti-refugee regime

By Mark Church, 21 September 2013

“Operation Sovereign Borders” places the military in control of not just turning back refugee boats, but of 15 civilian agencies involved in immigration control.

The Bradley Manning verdict: Criminalizing the exposure of crimes

By Joseph Kishore, 1 August 2013

Manning, Assange and Snowden have put their lives at risk to expose to the American people the secret actions of a military-intelligence apparatus that operates without constraint and above the law.

Snowden confirms Australian agencies involved in NSA global spying

By Peter Symonds, 10 July 2013

Four Australian sites contribute directly to the NSA’s X-Keyscore, which gathers up and stores Internet data throughout the world.

Photojournalists, artist censored by Australian authorities

By Richard Phillips, 8 June 2013

Australian officials have launched a new assault on freedom of expression over the past two weeks, censoring photographs in Sydney and an art installation in Melbourne.

Australian Crime Commission’s police-state powers revealed in sports “doping” affair

By Mike Head, 14 February 2013

The ACC’s extraordinary powers, including to conduct forced interrogations, overturn fundamental legal and democratic rights established over centuries.

Australian government asks High Court to curb free speech rights

By Mike Head, 14 November 2012

The Labor government has asked the judges to wind back a so-called implied protection of political communication.

Witchhunt intensifies against anti-US protesters in Australia

By Mike Head, 29 September 2012

The “war on terrorism” is being revived as a mechanism for building up the state apparatus to be used against mounting discontent.

Australian police crackdown on anti-US protest in Sydney

By Patrick O’Connor and Peter Symonds, 19 September 2012

The police operation has been followed by a frenzied media campaign to denounce the “violence” of the protesters and demand further anti-democratic police measures.

Australia police raids stir up new “terror” scare

By Mike Head, 17 September 2012

The media immediately seized on police operations to raise the spectre of “home-grown terrorism”.

Australian government prepares to bolster terrorism laws

By Mike Head, 21 August 2012

An official review’s terms of reference, and the personnel selected to conduct it, indicate that its purpose is to strengthen, not limit, the measures.

Australia: Police attack protesters at Sydney University

By James Cogan, 9 May 2012

The use of the police against a university campus protest underscores the nervousness of both the administration and the Labor government at the stirrings of student opposition to a deepening offensive on tertiary education.

Police shoot two Aboriginal youth in inner Sydney

By Zac Hambides, 30 April 2012

The growing numbers of deaths and injuries at the hands of police testify to the growing impunity with which they are unleashing potentially deadly force.

Australian government boosts police and parole powers

By Mike Head, 4 April 2012

Extraordinary powers established via the “war on terrorism” are being extended throughout the legal system.

Australian police Taser attack kills Brazilian student

By Zac Hambides, 21 March 2012

All the evidence indicates that police used potentially lethal force against an innocent young man, Roberto Laudisio Curti.

“The attacks on us are extraordinarily revealing”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks with WSWS

By Richard Phillips, 16 March 2012

Julian Assange discusses his British court appeal against extradition to Sweden and the ongoing attacks on WikiLeaks, freedom of the press and other basic rights.

Australian media furore over Canberra protest

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 January 2012

Five days after police hustled Prime Minister Gillard away from about 100 Aboriginal-rights protesters in Canberra, the media hysteria continues.

Australia: Deportation of Pakistani student

By Mike Head, 18 January 2012

Salman Ghumman’s treatment indicates how ASIO’s police-state powers are used to coerce unknown numbers of people into acceding to interrogations.

Australian government steps up secret surveillance of protests

By Mike Head, 11 January 2012

The documents underscore Labor’s re-direction of the intelligence and security agencies to focus on political dissent and social unrest.

Mother of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, speaks with the WSWS

By Richard Phillips, 26 November 2011

Christine Assange discusses the US-led frame-up campaign against WikiLeaks and her son Julian, the role of the Gillard Labor government, and the political implications for basic democratic rights.

The police attack at UC Davis: The working class and the defense of democratic rights

By Statement International Students for Social Equality, 21 November 2011

Friday’s assault by University of California Davis police on a peaceful protest is part of a nationwide wave of police repression against the Occupy movement.

Ten years on: The SIEV X tragedy and the assault on democratic rights

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 31 October 2011

The sinking of the SIEV X was not an isolated incident, but part of a fundamental political shift in Australia and around the world, marked by the abandonment of any adherence to democratic and legal norms.

Massive security for Commonwealth meeting in Western Australia

By Joe Lopez and Will Morrow, 28 October 2011

The purpose of the CHOGM security measures is to suppress and intimidate protesters and prepare public consciousness for a permanent expansion of police powers.

Former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks speaks with the World Socialist Web Site

By Richard Phillips, 22 October 2011

David Hicks talks about his illegal detention in Guantanamo and his ongoing demonisation by the Australian media

Australia: Victims’ families question police shootings in Sydney

By Mike Head, 8 October 2011

Given the recurring pattern of official police justifications, the recent shootings cannot be explained as isolated responses by individual officers.

Australian columnist found guilty of breaching Racial Discrimination Act

By Patrick O’Connor, 7 October 2011

The judgement has highlighted the reactionary provisions of the Act, and establishes a dangerous precedent for the illegalisation of left-wing opposition to race-based identity politics.

Australian court freezes former Guantánamo Bay prisoner’s bank accounts

By Richard Phillips, 16 August 2011

The case is a vindictive political attack, orchestrated by the Gillard Labor government, seeking to punish Hicks and intimidate other victims of the “war on terror.”

Unlawful Australian government action alleged in Julian Moti case

By Patrick O’Connor, 4 August 2011

The Australian High Court is hearing an appeal by former Solomon Islands’ Attorney General Julian Moti alleging that the government’s attempt to prosecute him is politically motivated and unlawful.

Australian government moves to confiscate book royalties from former Guantánamo prisoner

By Richard Phillips, 29 July 2011

The Labor government has begun legal action to seize all proceeds from David Hicks’s book Guantanamo: My Journey.

Australian government expands spy agency’s powers

By Mike Head, 1 June 2011

ASIO will have the power to monitor anyone overseas, who is considered a threat to “national economic well-being,” “security” or “foreign relations.”

Book Review

Guantanamo: My Journey—David Hicks exposes torture and government criminality

By Richard Phillips, 19 May 2011

Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks has written a valuable exposure of the barbarities perpetrated against him by the US military and Canberra’s role in his illegal detention.

Guantánamo dossiers confirm Australian government criminality

By James Cogan, 28 April 2011

The WikiLeaks dossiers add weight to the demand for the prosecution of senior members of the Howard government for their collaboration with the illegal imprisonment and torture of Australian citizens.

“All those involved in my treatment should be jailed for war crimes”

Former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Mamdouh Habib speaks with WSWS

By Richard Phillips, 9 February 2011

Mamdouh Habib outlines the evidence of his torture in Egypt that led the Gillard government to reach an out-of-court settlement with him.

Australia: Labor government makes out-of-court settlement with former Guantánamo prisoner over torture allegations

By Richard Phillips, 18 January 2011

Damning new testimony has confirmed that Australian intelligence, police and foreign affairs officials witnessed the rendition and torture of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib.

Australia: Labor governments vow to retain “bikie laws” despite High Court ruling

By Robert Morgan, 5 January 2011

Australian Labor governments have declared they will maintain legislation giving them sweeping powers to outlaw any “criminal organisation,” despite the High Court overturning an aspect of South Australia’s laws.

Police attack Australian protests in defense of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

By Oliver Campbell, 15 December 2010

A 600-strong demonstration in defence of WikiLeaks and its editor Julian Assange in central Sydney last night was assaulted by police, who tried to prevent protestors marching from the town hall to the US consulate 1,500 metres away.

Support builds for Julian Assange in Australia

By James Cogan, 10 December 2010

Figures from across a broad spectrum of the political, legal and media establishment are speaking out in defence of Assange and WikiLeaks.

Greens remain silent on witch-hunt against Australian citizen Julian Assange

By James Cogan, 4 December 2010

The Greens have not felt the need to issue so much as a press statement in defence of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Australia: NSW government extends “sunset clause” in terrorism law

By Robert Morgan, 19 October 2010

Extraordinary powers, such as detention without trial, the banning of organisations by executive order and semi-secret trials have, in effect, become permanent features of the legal system.

Australia: Police use Tasers as “weapon of choice”

By Richard Phillips, 9 October 2010

Video footage of a Western Australian prisoner being repeatedly tasered and the death of a Sydney man have highlighted the alarming increase in the use of electric stun guns by Australian police.

Australian terrorism trial produces evidence of police entrapment

By Mike Head, 6 October 2010

According to testimony last week in the trial of five Lebanese- and Somali-born men, a police officer who infiltrated the group convinced one of the men to visit a Sydney army base.

Australia: Former Guantánamo prisoner denied passport again

By Richard Phillips, 16 September 2010

The Labor government has refused to grant a passport to former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Mamdouh Habib, claiming he might prejudice Australian security.

Police conduct “terrorist” raids on eve of Australian election

By Mike Head, 20 August 2010

Federal and state police yesterday conducted dawn raids in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth on 17 homes and offices of Kurdish Australians in what the police described as a “joint counter terrorism investigation”.

Australian government resumes vendetta against Julian Moti after appeals court reinstates charges

By Patrick O’Connor, 14 August 2010

The former Solomon Islands’ attorney general is once again threatened with trial on politically motivated statutory rape allegations, following a decision last month by the Queensland Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn an earlier court ruling that the charges be dismissed.

Australian government rejects human rights charter

By Mike Head, 24 May 2010

Australia will remain one of the few countries not to have a formal human rights charter after the Rudd government rejected its own consultation committee’s recommendation for a Human Rights Act.

Australian court allows Guantánamo torture compensation case to proceed

By Robert Morgan, 22 March 2010

The Federal Court unanimously dismissed the Rudd government’s application to terminate former Guantánamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib’s claim for compensation for alleged Australian complicity in torture.

Australian Labor government releases terrorism “White Paper”

By Mike Head, 3 March 2010

The Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week released its long delayed Counter-Terrorism White Paper, outlining new antidemocratic measures to advance the “war on terror”.

Unprecedented sentences in Australian terrorism trial

By Mike Head, 26 February 2010

A Sydney judge last week sentenced five Islamic men to maximum terms ranging from 23 to 28 years—the longest imprisonments imposed in an Australian terrorist trial.

Trial by media in Australian terrorism case

By Mike Head, 13 November 2009

Despite objections by defence lawyers, highly-prejudicial and untested prosecution evidence was released to the media in Australia’s latest large-scale terrorist trial.

Australian man faces lengthy jail term for “offensive” letters

By Mike Head, 30 October 2009

A Muslim man faces up to 14 years in prison for sending allegedly offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Australian government prosecutors suffer significant blow in Moti case

By Patrick O’Connor, 21 October 2009

Justice Mullins concluded that the police and prosecution’s failure to disclose all the relevant documents on time meant that defence’s cross examination of the prosecution’s witnesses could not proceed this week.

Australian Federal Police disclose 1,500 pages of documents in Julian Moti case

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 October 2009

On Thursday morning, Moti’s counsel Jim Kennan SC explained that in the previous 48 hours, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had handed over more than 1,500 pages of documents.

Australian government lawyers demand Guantánamo compensation case be stopped to protect US alliance

By Richard Phillips, 29 September 2009

The government has intensified its efforts to stop Mamdouh Habib, a 53-year-old Australian citizen and father of four, from suing over its role in his illegal detention and torture in Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay between 2001 and 2005.

Australian court told witnesses were threatened in Julian Moti case

By Patrick O’Connor, 18 September 2009

The Queensland Supreme Court has heard allegations that witnesses called by counsel for the former Solomon Islands’ attorney general Julian Moti were threatened with the termination of their employment if they gave evidence.

Australia: Bail denial in terrorism case sets dangerous new precedent

By Mike Head, 11 September 2009

Three men accused of a terrorist conspiracy have been denied bail, with a magistrate saying they were politically opposed to the existing legal and political system.

Former Solomon Islands attorney general challenges Australian government

Evidence backs Julian Moti’s allegation of “politically-motivated” charges

By Patrick O'Connor, 2 September 2009

International and constitutional law expert and former attorney general of the Solomon Islands Julian Moti is applying for statutory rape charges brought by the Australian government to be thrown out of court on the basis that the case is groundless and represents an abuse of judicial process.

Australia: Rudd government toughens anti-terror laws

By Mike Head, 19 August 2009

The Australian Labor government has unveiled a package of measures to strengthen anti-terrorism laws introduced since 2002.

Australian officials exclude WSWS from reporting on Pacific Islands Forum

14 August 2009

In a blatant act of political censorship, Australian officials organising the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) denied media accreditation to World Socialist Web Site journalists, Patrick O’Connor and Richard Phillips, to cover the three-day event.

Australia: Media promotes sensationalised “terror” claims

By Mike Head, 11 August 2009

Despite scant police evidence, the Australian media has universally depicted five Muslim men arrested on August 4 in the course of extensive police raids as guilty of an extraordinary plot to attack an army base.

Australian police carry out sweeping new “anti-terror” raids

By Mike Head, 5 August 2009

In the second largest police-intelligence raids ever conducted in Australia, around 400 officers searched 19 homes across Melbourne and a nearby country town at dawn yesterday, arresting four Lebanese- and Somali-Australians.

Australian government boosts terror laws, while modifying “lexicon”

By Mike Head, 27 July 2009

While expanding the former Howard government’s “anti-terrorism” laws that the Labor Party helped introduce between 2002 and 2006, the Rudd Labor government has moved to abandon the term “war on terrorism”.

Australia: Man dies after being tasered by police

By Mathew Benn, 3 July 2009

On June 12 in the small town of Brandon in northern Queensland, 39-year-old Antonio Galeano was tasered up to 28 times by police and died in custody 10 minutes later.

Solomon Islands: Julian Moti challenges Australian government’s “politically-motivated” prosecution

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 May 2009

International constitutional lawyer and former Solomon Islands attorney general Julian Moti is challenging statutory rape charges now being heard in the Australian judicial system as trumped-up and politically motivated.

Australian Federal Police chief quits 18 months early

By Mike Head, 21 May 2009

Whether or not he was pressed to resign, AFP commissioner Keelty had become a political liability—too deeply implicated in the former Howard government’s assault on basic legal and democratic rights in its so-called war on terror.

Former Australian intelligence officer faces jail over Bali bombing documents

By Mike Head, 5 May 2009

A former Australian intelligence official and his co-tenant were convicted last month of leaking classified documents relating to the October 2002 terrorist bomb blasts on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Australian airport death used to justify new police powers

By Mike Head, 31 March 2009

Led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the federal and state Labor governments in Australia have seized upon a fatal brawl at Sydney airport last week to bring forward plans for extraordinary legislation to outlaw organisations.

Australia: The political issues behind the jailing of former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld

By Patrick O'Connor and Richard Hoffman, 27 March 2009

Many serious questions surrounding the Einfeld affair remain unanswered. But the timing and nature of the media and police investigations into his speeding infringement point to the distinct possibility that they were motivated by a political desire, on the part of the former Howard government, to blacken Einfeld’s name and undermine his professional credibility.

Australia: Rudd government tries to block Guantánamo torture case

By Mike Head, 25 March 2009

Like the Obama administration, the Rudd government is using every possible legal device to suppress evidence of torture at Guantánamo Bay. It is trying to block a compensation case by Mamdouh Habib, who was detained there for three years without trial or charge.

Australia: Rudd government attacks right to protest at Pine Gap spy base

By Mike Head, 20 March 2009

Without any publicity or public debate, the Rudd government has passed a law to step up the protection of the joint US-Australian military spy base at Pine Gap in central Australia, ensuring that protesters will face up to seven years’ jail if they go near or even photograph the facility.

Australian High Court widens use of secret evidence

By Richard Hoffman, 13 March 2009

A recent court decision in the case of K-Generation Pty Limited is another sharp reminder that there is no inalienable right to a fair hearing or trial in Australia.

Australian police shoot another vulnerable person

By Jake Skeers, 29 December 2008

New South Wales police shot an apparently mentally ill 48-year-old woman multiple times in Sydney on December 21 in what the victim and two witnesses have described as a totally unnecessary action.

Australia: Haneef “terrorism” inquiry produces a whitewash

By Mike Head, 29 December 2008

The Rudd government’s Clarke review of last year’s terrorist witch-hunt of Dr Mohamed Haneef is a whitewash of the former Howard government and a vehicle for bolstering the country’s draconian counter-terrorism measures.

Australia: Growing opposition to Labor’s Internet censorship

By our reporters, 27 December 2008

More than 2,000 opponents of the federal Labor government’s plans to censor the Internet rallied in cities across Australia on December 13—the second national protest in the past two months.

Australia: Police gun down 15-year-old boy

By Katrina Morrison, 17 December 2008

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police officers in Melbourne, Victoria last Thursday night in a callous and brutal act. Four officers surrounded the agitated youth at a skate park in the suburb of Northcote and killed him in a hail of at least six bullets.

In response to economic crisis, Australian government bolsters “national security”

By Mike Head, 8 December 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has delivered what he termed an “historic” National Security Statement and appointed a former military general and SAS commander to the powerful new post of National Security Adviser.

Australia: State provocations, security and Socialist Alternative

By Patrick O’Connor, 3 December 2008

The failure of the protest organisation Socialist Alternative (SA) to issue any serious response to revelations that a police agent provocateur spent a considerable period of time working within their ranks provides a revealing insight into the class character of the organisation and the opportunist nature of its politics.

Australia: Control order to be lifted on David Hicks

By Richard Phillips, 29 November 2008

The Australian Federal Police announced last week that it would not attempt to extend the control order on former Guantánamo Bay prisoner David Hicks after its expiry on December 21.

Backroom inquiry rubberstamps false imprisonment, kidnapping and coercion by Australian intelligence agency

By Mike Head, 20 November 2008

Australia’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has found that two ASIO officers should not face prosecution for their role in the failed terrorism case against young Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque.

Police provocateur infiltrates political and protest groups in Australia

By Margaret Rees, 15 November 2008

In a series of articles published last month, Melbourne’s Age newspaper revealed that a covert police agent recently infiltrated several left-wing political and activist groups, including Socialist Alternative, Stop the War Coalition and Unity for Peace.

Another major terrorist trial begins in Australia

By Mike Head, 11 November 2008

Five men, held for more than five years in some of Australia’s worst isolation cells in “super-max” prisons, will finally face trial in Sydney this week in the second major “terror” trial to be held under the Rudd Labor government.