By Jim Hayes
The big brother style of the Scott Morrison government continues to become entrenched. From carrying on the restrictions on basic freedoms, like the right to be presumed innocent until convicted by evidence, increased surveillance of citizens, curtailing the right of journalists to report the truth as they see it, to orchestrating political politically motivated police raids.
Alongside this, there has been the ongoing vilification of sections of the population because of their ethnicity or belief. We had the campaign against Muslims. Now there is the campaign against the Chinese.
Under the guise of legislating for freedom of religion, there is a proposal to use this as a Trojan Horse to take freedom away from many of us.
This is not about being able to practice one’s faith, but of forcing a narrow view of the world on others, and punishing them for not complying.
And now we learn about the extraordinary letter sent to Channel Nine. It was revealed this last Tuesday, and is an obvious shot over the bough, an act of attempted censorship, warning not to cause embarrassment or mess with One Nation, a useful ally of the government.
Using the now established method of accusing anyone you don’t like of working for a foreign government, the television station was warned not to broadcast footage form Al-Jazeera in April, shortly before the Federal election. This was a sting by journalist Rodger Muller, featuring One Nation’s deputy James Ashby soliciting 420 million to $20 million dollars from American pro-gun lobbyists and some cringing comments on camera.
The al Jazerra video in question
Video from Guardian News
Under new foreign influence transparency legislation, anyone aiming at political influence (including reporting a story) and said to be doing so in for a foreign interest by the Attorney General, must be register this connection.
The definition of working for a foreign interest is so vague that its doesn’t mean being in their employ. It covers anything that might meet the all-encompassing criterion of benefiting the foreign interest in some way.
Up to 5 years imprisonment is provided by this law.
The threat has not been carried out in this case. It’s good news. But there is no room for complacency. A precedent has been set and a few more of these may soften up the possibility of taking it to the new level.
Australia is in serious risk of going down a dark path, and the only antidote is doing more to protect our democratic rights to have an opinion and to speak our mind.