Ed­i­to­rial, Let­ters and Ge­off Pryor’s car­toon.

The Saturday Paper - - Contents | The Week -

This is the leg­is­la­tion of how­ev­ers. The New South Wales premier, Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian, talks about be­ing con­scious of in­di­vid­ual rights and civil lib­er­ties – “how­ever, pub­lic safety and se­cu­rity must come first”. She talks about the need to “re­con­sider our civil rights and com­pro­mise on those things”.

The Vic­to­rian premier, Daniel An­drews, says he ac­cepts peo­ple will want to talk about civil lib­er­ties. “They’re go­ing to talk about the thin end of the wedge and all this sort of stuff. Well, frankly, that talk is a lux­ury that may be avail­able to them but it’s not avail­able to po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in this coun­try,” he says. “No­tional con­sid­er­a­tions of civil lib­er­ties do not trump the very real threat, the very real threat of ter­ror in our coun­try to­day. We are go­ing to have to cur­tail the rights and free­doms of a small num­ber of peo­ple in or­der to keep the vast ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians safe.”

For the premier of Western Aus­tralian, Mark McGowan, it is even more straight­for­ward: “We are dealing with the civil lib­er­ties of ter­ror­ists and I don’t par­tic­u­larly care about the civil lib­er­ties of ter­ror­ists or po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists.”

The prime min­is­ter, Mal­colm Turn­bull, says the na­tional data­base for fa­cial recog­ni­tion doesn’t amount to “sur­veil­lance, or in­deed mass sur­veil­lance”. He con­cedes that it will be made avail­able to pri­vate com­pa­nies, but only in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

The new data­base would give real-time access to pass­port, visa, cit­i­zen­ship and driver’s li­cence im­ages. The $18.5 mil­lion sys­tem, named “The Ca­pa­bil­ity”, was pro­posed in 2015 but has been ex­panded af­ter a meet­ing of the Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ments on Thurs­day.

It is part of a suite of se­cu­rity mea­sures signed off at the meet­ing. Among those mea­sures is leg­is­la­tion to al­low a per­son to be de­tained for 14 days with­out charge. New of­fences were also cre­ated to more clearly crim­i­nalise ter­ror­ism hoaxes and to make it il­le­gal to pos­sess in­struc­tional ma­te­rial re­lat­ing to ter­ror­ism.

“We have sought to high­light the im­por­tance of pri­vacy and of civil lib­er­ties,” the ACT’s chief min­is­ter, An­drew Barr, said as the changes were an­nounced. “I re­spect the po­si­tion of many of my col­leagues that the threat level has changed and it is more per­haps in sor­row than anger that we can re­flect upon the change in our com­mu­nity and the so­ci­ety in which we live that ne­ces­si­tates these sort of ac­tion[s], but none­the­less all ju­ris­dic­tions have signed up to­day and it re­flects a need for a joined-up and col­lec­tive re­sponse to crit­i­cal is­sues.”

Turn­bull dismisses con­cerns that the data­base for fa­cial recog­ni­tion could be hacked. He tells peo­ple they al­ready use Face­book. He seems obliv­i­ous to his gov­ern­ment’s record on data se­cu­rity. He calls it a pri­or­ity. Ex­perts call the sys­tem a hon­ey­pot.

Al­ready, there are signs of creep. This is what hap­pens when civil lib­er­ties are traded. Cory Bernardi pro­poses the sys­tem be linked to Medi­care. “If we’re go­ing to start gath­er­ing data on par­tic­u­lar peo­ple, I’d like to see that ac­tu­ally hap­pen more in the wel­fare space as well,” he says, “be­cause I think there’s a lot of peo­ple that are rip­ping us off on wel­fare and it might be an op­por­tu­nity to tie in a co-or­di­nated ap­proach to iden­ti­fy­ing in­di­vid­u­als who are ac­cess­ing the wel­fare sys­tem.”

The leg­is­la­tion of how­ev­ers very quickly be­comes the leg­is­la­tion of what next. There is noth­ing in this gov­ern­ment’s record to sug­gest it should be trusted

• with that.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.