The Guardian 9 November, 2005


Liars at work again

John Howard and his Attorney General Philip Ruddock are once again attempting to hoodwink the Australian people by doing what they do best lying.

Howard's rush to amend the "terror laws" last week to introduce a one word amendment and the subsequent raids and arrests this week bear all the hallmarks of an elaborate and cynical exercise to achieve their shoddy political ends. Even the debunking by Ruddock last week, saying that no arrests have been made and may never be made, can be seen as part of an elaborate mind game.

It is transparently obvious that the whole incident is being beefed up to maintain fear and suspicion in the community and to divert attention from the unpopular industrial relations legislation and the undermining of democratic rights by the "terror laws" themselves.

Defence Minister Robert Hill has joined the Prime Minister's clamour with proposals to give wider powers to the military to patrol city streets during some events. Hill's timing is perhaps an admission by the Government that earlier scare-mongering was being widely criticised as a cynical exercise.

The events also come at a time when the PM's popularity as measured in the polls is on a considerable slide. Former leader of the Liberal Party John Valder says that Howard's honesty and integrity are being increasingly questioned. The Queensland Premier Peter Beattie now accuses the Federal Government of talking "alarmist rubbish" although he and other State Premiers had earlier signed on to the Federal terror laws.

But Howard's agenda is by no means limited to the Australian scene. The Federal Government is an integral part of the extreme international right-wing which is increasingly adopting fascist measures to control community opposition to their policies. Their drive for more wars and the most far-reaching attacks on workers' rights and living standards are bringing hundreds and thousands onto the streets in many countries.

A recent example is the rioting in France caused by mass unemployment, poverty, discrimination and hopelessness. Massive demonstrations and strike struggles are taking place in many countries across the world. Many governments have become unstable, some are being thrown out. Bush's popularity has also plummeted. He is facing one exposure after another.

But the lying, diversion and cover-up is not limited to the Federal Government. Did Bob Carr resign so suddenly because he knew that the truth about the disgraceful Sydney cross-city tunnel contract was about to blow? The State Government willingly signed on to the contract while pursuing its vaunted public private partnership contracts, knowing that it gave tremendous advantages to the private contractors while leaving the public to pick up the tab for the enormous payouts that the contract provided for government default. Much of Sydney traffic was to be diverted to feed the profit interests of the private tunnel contractors.

Any claim that the reality of this contract was unknown to Bob Carr and his Ministers is just another of the lies that are being foisted on the long-suffering people of Australia. They are guilty! Rather than Bob Carr being rewarded as a richly paid adviser to the Macquarie Bank, he should be in one of the jails that his government has been building so enthusiastically.

The political climate in Australia is now changing as more and more people wake up to the cover- up and lying being resorted to by governments. The lying is the propaganda side of it. The other side is to be seen in the terror laws, troops on the streets, sweeping attacks on the democratic rights of workers and trade unionists in the IR legislation and the supreme crime of the new wars being planned.

One of the Federal Government's principal military advisers, Ross Babbage, a former official in the Australian Department of Defence who was tied up with defence industries, has predicted a major war in Asia in the 2020s. In the meantime he is calling for more and more money for the military.

That's the future that Howard and others are preparing for the Australian people. That's why every aspect of the Government's policies has to be opposed relentlessly and defeated.

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