By James Cogan
The alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacks in Paris last Friday have been seized upon by the Australian political and media establishment to justify the country’s involvement in the US-led wars in Iraq and Syria and the abrogation of democratic rights at home that has taken place on the pretext of combatting terrorism.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in Turkey for the G-20 Summit, gave his official sanction to a frenzy of fear-mongering and anti-Muslim xenophobia. In his initial statement, he declared that the terrorist attacks were “truthfully the work of the devil.” On the weekend, he asserted that, while there was no evidence, “attacks in this environment are likely to happen in the future” in Australia.
Turnbull lauded the sixth tranche of anti-terrorism legislation which includes sweeping measures to strip dual citizens of their Australian citizenship if they are deemed to have been involved in terrorist –related activities or display a lack of “allegiance” to Australia. Control orders—state restrictions on peoples’ movements and contacts, up to outright house arrest—can now be imposed on children as young as 14.
Related measures have been legislated by the New South Wales (NSW) state government to allow the detention and interrogation of suspects for as long as 28 days without any charges. NSW acting police commissioner Nick Kaldas told journalists on Tuesday that his officers had been ordered to be armed at all times and to shoot-to-kill, rather than seek to negotiate, with alleged terrorists.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten stressed the Labor Party’s bipartisan, unconditional support for giving the “law enforcement agencies and security… the resources they require.”
At a press conference with Barack Obama yesterday in Manila, Turnbull declared that Australia, which is contributing the second largest military force to US operations the Middle East, would “continue shoulder to shoulder with the United States and our allies in the fight against this type of extremist violence, this type of terrorism.”
Endorsing war abroad and repression at home, Monday’s editorial in Murdoch’s Australian declared that “Western civilisation” was threatened by “extreme Wahabist Sunni Islam.” The newspaper demanded even greater police-state control and censorship within Australia. It advocated “vigilance on many fronts—education in our schools, engagement in our communities, military strength overseas, security resilience at home, intelligence alertness and orderly immigration controls.”