The Guardian April 4, 2001

Dangerous new police powers

The deepening crisis of capitalism on a worldwide scale is causing alarm 
in the ranks of the ruling class and those servile politicians who do the 
bidding of the big corporations. Some indications of the crisis are the 
steep decline in share values in the US and the dramatic devaluation of the 
Australian dollar.

By the end of March, the New York Stock Exchange saw an estimated US$4.6 
trillion dollars wiped off the value of shares listed on the NASDAQ and DOW 
JONES indexes. This total is nearly five times the losses during the 
October 1987 Wall Street crash. The NASDAQ (based on the value of high tech 
stocks) has plummeted in value from US$6.7 trillion to only US$2.7 trillion 
in the past year.

The ruling classes know that the galloping world-wide poverty, the loss of 
jobs, the cuts to social welfare services, the attacks on working 
conditions and the rights of trade unions, the neglect of the environment 
and the sacrifice of the independence of their countries by politicians are 
steadily increasing the worldwide resistance of the people in all 

The reply of the rulers is to impose ever more restrictions on the rights 
of the people. This is also taking place in Australia.

Consider these developments.

The Federal Government has adopted legislation that permits the use of the 
military in domestic issues.

Federal authorities have carried out raids on the homes of Sydney citizens 
allegedly to find some refugees who escaped from the Villawood detention 
centre. One of the homes raided was that of ABC presenter John Highfield 
whose wife has been active in support of refugee children.

The refugee centres created in isolated areas such as Woomera and Port 
Headland and their operation by private companies could easily become 
concentration camps in the future.

In NSW the State Labor Government, using "law and order" catchcries, 
intends new powers for the police which turn upside-down the legal 
presumption of innocence. The President of the Law Society of NSW said of 
the laws, "What we are looking at here is Nazi-style legislation".

The DNA of those in jail is being recorded and this will in time be 
extended to all citizens.

It is now commonplace for the police to use phone intercepts, video 
surveillance and pose as buyers of drugs equipped with sound recording 
apparatus. This is not to condone the distribution or use of drugs but both 
the NSW State Government's measures and the Federal Government's approach, 
which puts the blame and responsibility on parents, do little to root out 
the real criminals, the importers and distributors of drugs. As the "Sydney 
Morning Herald" report of drug raids last week in Sydney says: "The source 
of the drugs being supplied by the group was yet to be identified."

The NSW Labor Right draws its attitudes from the extreme right-wing 
Catholic Action circles who remained in the Labor Party in NSW when this 
cancerous group was expelled from the Labor Party in other States in the 

The transfer of Archbishop Pell to Sydney by decision of the Vatican is 
also of significance. Archbishop Pell is known for his extremely 
reactionary views and his transfer will consolidate the Catholic Action 
grouping in the Labor Right in NSW  the most important industrial and 
political State of the Commonwealth.

There have been a number of other incidents that indicate that the lower 
echelons of the Labor Right are being emboldened to make attacks on 
individuals in a way which suggests that these groupings feel unrestrained 
in their offensive behaviour towards others who reject their policies and 

An incident at a meeting of Young Labor last November drew this comment 
from the Vice-President of Young Labor Elanor Canning:

"It was the most offensive behaviour that I have ever seen at a Young Labor 
meeting. It was a new low ... they tried to intimidate us, chanting Nazi 
slogans and shouting that we were racists."

There should be no illusions about the claimed "democratic" convictions and 
principles of the Australian ruling class. It is just as vicious and will 
disregard all laws whenever they feel that their interests are being 
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