"Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee yesterday launched a thinly veiled attack on Australia's proposed anti-terrorism laws, likening the Howard Government's controversial reforms to human rights abuses under apartheid in his native South Africa."
The suspension of law and order and imposed barbarity "was done in the name of the fight against terror", he said.
Governments should be mistrusted by definition. To simply allow the establishment unprecedented "anti-terror" laws, and be told "trust us", is a recipe for institutional abuse.
I remember reading JM Coetzee's "Disgrace" many years ago. It is a powerful and eerie tale about post-apartheid South Africa and the lingering scars of those dark days. Australia could well be following a path of obscene government intrusion and oppression.
The Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr sums it up well today: The anti-terror laws are "essentially about punishment - not on evidence tested before a court, but on intelligence in the hands of police and ASIO officers."
After the intelligence failures of Iraq and the dysfunctional immigration department, allowing police and ASIO officers such powers smacks of political opportunism, crass populism and wedge politics.