The Guardian 19 October, 2005


The steady slide to fascism

Every time there is an event overseas that can be described as a terrorist act the Howard Government ratchets up the repressive laws in Australia. The Government is, step by step, giving more and more powers to ASIO and the Australian Federal Police. Federal Police will be able to detain terrorism terrorist "suspects" for up to 24 hours and for up to 48 hours with the approval of a judge or magistrate. If a terrorist act is believed to be "imminent" then those powers are extended to two weeks. Police will be given the authority to shoot to kill, similar to the power exercised recently on an innocent victim in the UK.

On this latest occasion the government attempted to have the legislation passed into law without any but the briefest and most cursory Senate scrutiny. Only one week has been set aside for Senate scrutiny. What is doubly despicable is the fact that Labor Party State Premiers had already seen the legislation and not only remained silent about its terms but had agreed to support it. Even after its terms had been leaked on the internet the Premiers continued to give their support to Howard. Labor spokesperson for Homeland Security, Arch Bevis, called on the Howard Government to fast-track the increased spending on ASIO.

The Federal Government will attempt to use every act of terrorism to introduce even more draconian legislation. One can only speculate on how many democratic rights will be even further eroded in the name of the "war on terrorism" and on the possibility that terrorist events and alleged threats can be manufactured to justify whatever the government has a mind to do.

In the US, the Bush’s personal approval rating has slid to just under 40 per cent, a development that threatens his government’s long-term agenda and with it, the agenda of the Howard Government. Howard’s ratings would also be on a slide were it not for the pathetic and cowardly performance of Labor Party leaders, not only on the question of democratic rights but on Australia’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on industrial relations and many other issues.

Furthermore, there is also the steady slide in US influence throughout the world — in Asia, Africa and Latin America in particular. This slide terrifies the ruling class in developed capitalist countries and one of their measures to hold on to power is to destroy democratic rights and the organisations of the working class. It is for this reason that the current anti-trade union IR legislation is top of the Howard Government’s agenda with the new Senate.

Is it fascism? Well, not yet but to retain its power the ruling class will stop at nothing, as the German capitalists did when they supported Hitler in Germany in 1933. There may not be any storm-troopers on the streets but let us not forget the fascist New Guard that was spawned in Australia in the midst of the 1930s’ Depression.

It could happen again and it could happen here.

I’m in the money

Bob Carr has become an adviser to the Macquarie Bank at a salary of about $5,000 per day. If anyone was misled into believing that he was on the side of the working people, this alone should prove the point that he has always been on the side of the corporations. The many acts of the NSW State Government when he was Premier giving handouts and contracts to developers are on the record. Let’s recall the handover of the former Sydney showground site to Murdoch’s Newscorp by Carr.

Many former politicians of both the coalition parties and the Labor Party have found an easy path and a warm welcome into the corporate sector where they very easily sell their knowledge of government and the contacts that they have made to their new corporate employers.

Right-wing Labor Party leaders at best make a hollow pretence of serving the working people and the sooner we wake up to this reality the better.

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