Monday, July 18, 2005

Rewarding Politicians for Incompetence.

Posted by AmishThrasher at 5:58 pm
Peter Beattie
Meet Peter Beattie:
He wants to curb your freedom.
If nothing else, you have to credit the politicians for audacity. Within a week of the Palmer Report showing clear incompetance by government with mandatory detention, politicians like Queensland's Premier, Peter Beattie, have come forward to the Australian public asking us to, essentially, trust the government with even more power; this time, with a mandatory national ID card. Perhaps the most audacious aspect to all of this is that Beattie, whose state illegally held Rau as a prisoner, wants the government powers extended because of their incompetence with the powers that they already have! Beattie made the point in a recent interview where he stated that "The other thing about it, too, is we've had the problems with Cornelia Rau and the Alvarez case... Now a national ID system will have benefits in that." In other words, dangerously incompetent government departments and politicians should be rewarded with even more power, while we - the public - should be punished by being forced to give up more of our civil liberties. Really, it should be the other way around: incompetent government departments should be punished by having their power cut back, and incompetent politicians should be fired.

First, some history. In 1992, the Federal Government (under Paul Keating) gave itself (through the Immigration Department) the power to be able to detain, or deport, anyone who it thought was in the country illegally, without trial. After the 2001 Federal elections, those powers were strengthened and extended by the Howard government. The incompetence with which these powers were used by the immigration department was revealed when Cornelia Rau, an Australian citizen, was illegally arrested and detained while another Australian, Vivian Solon, was illegally deported. This incompetence with the powers the department already has been criticised in the resulting Palmer Inquiry. In the wake of this report, the guilty government bureaucracy either needs a serious overhaul, or to have their powers slashed dramatically - or both. To reward this bureaucracy for its utter ineptness with even more power would be an act of monumental stupidity.

An excuse often used to extend government powers is that if you have nothing to hide, you should have nothing to fear. Well, neither Rau nor Solon had anything to hide - they were both Australian citizens; so they really should have had nothing to fear either. Nothing to fear, that is, except for the abuse of power by a pack of over-zealous bureaucrats. And with the Australia Card, those same bureaucrats would gain access to a Soviet-style centralised government database potentially linking all your personal information, both public and private. Your right to privacy goes out the window, and the potential for abuse is enormous. Do we really want to give the same government bureaucracy and politicians that have already been shown to be incompetent that much power?

I, for one, think that it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do, which is why I don't support it.

John Howard has found a different excuse for attacking your privacy with an Australia Card, when he stated (according to The Age) that "This is an issue that ought to be back on the table but back on the table as part of inevitably looking at everything in the wake of the terrible tragedy in London." The problem is that most of the London terrorists were born and raised in the UK. Using such a large scale database would mean scouring through the personal details of millions to find a couple of dozen people, and would necessitate both a massive and comprehensivefile on everyone; resources that should be spent on human intelligence; on infiltrating and undermining extremist organisations both at home and abroad.

Howard and Beattie think we should have a national debate over whether we should introduce the Australia Card. Well, in the wake of the Palmer Report we do need a national debate, alright. But it should be a very different one to the one Howard and Beattie have in mind: the debate shouldn't be over introducing an Australia Card, but rather over how many of these pollies deserve to get fired at the next election. And how many more deserved to be fired if they pull through with this scheme.