Pictures: Change anyone? Dr Brendan Nelson, leader of the Federal Opposition, who famously used to be a member of the ALP until his preselection in 1993 and election to Parliament in 1996 for the Liberal National Party.
After 5 years in Gitmo and the best part of a year in gaol in Australia David Hicks, 'convicted terrorism supporter' is about to be released subject to a control order.
Before the Sept 11 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre with loss of some 3,000 lives it was not illegal to fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan, allied to Osama Bin Laden widely seen in hindsight as a sponsor of the shocking WTC attack. As nasty as the Taliban are that was the legal reality back in 2,000. It's quite doubtful David Hicks was a good person back then. That was 6 years ago now.
Do people like Hicks change after 5 miserable years in the USA Gitmo prison?
Ask Brendan Nelson, (pictured above from his official website), who famously used to be a member of the Labor Party and is now the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia which took us to the ill fated war in Iraq under ex MP, ex PM John Howard. The wrong war in the wrong country said to be in part justified by 9/11.
If David Hicks hasn't changed his point of view from what he was in 2000 then Brendan Nelson is probably a covert member of the Labor Party sent on a sabotage mission to destroy once and for all time the now defeated Coalition Party of government 1996-November 24 2007.
I don't think so. Of course people change - if they have any common sense. It's the only thing you can be sure of, that and getting older.When it comes to a sensible approach to David Hicks today late 2007, in the words of Zorba the Greek, after a while you stop asking whether your enemy is a good person, or a bad person, you just think of them as another human being with fears, needs and a desperate desire to survive. Hold onto that thought because it's a merciful one in relation to our own failures as a country especially under John Howard, and for such as Hicks specifically.
How much is enough punishment for David Hicks? How much is cruelty for the sake of political posturing? Are we 'there yet' regarding the David Hicks story? Is it over now? Please God may it be soon.
Either you believe in and accept that people change according to life experience, or you don't. We look forward to the time in 2008 when David Hicks is a nobody of no news value whatsoever. No doubt he does too.
Dangerous climate, an Iraq disaster, an overpopulated unsustainable inequitable world, bushfire season, racial tensions in western Sydney, even vertical fiscal imbalance of a broken federation. All of these are far more real and present issues than one sorry arse ill educated Australian looking to make a life as a military adventurer, who definitely made some very bad decisions.
So what's really going on with the Australian Federal Police drum beat in the conservative media over the release of David Hicks under tight conditions including his 6 year old travel letters? Well it's pretty clear one big aspect is censorship. What Hicks could tell, even allowing for all his biases, was so dangerous to vested interests he was banned from talking prior to a federal election. That's a real worry for our democracy actually. More than that, it was a disgrace, and the new Govt may not be very interested in his free speech more than the old govt (?).
We trust the same spirit that saw 60 Minutes indirectly bring a public interest story to the screen earlier in 2007 will carry our democracy forward in terms of right to know regarding David Hicks in 2008 and be done with him and his story. For his sake and ours.
Postscript #1 26 Dec 2007
It seems no coincidence in light of the Hicks saga above that the security agencies are fighting a legal pitched battle with a supreme court judge over similar issues of 1. due process and 2. (judicial) free speech. Nor is it any surprise 3. the big Fairfax media are putting the spotlight on this 'old style' governance culture as part of the Right to Know Coalition. The report linked below is significant for the new ALP govt tipping the press they are quite agnostic about this latest pressure tactic on the judiciary by a senior bureaucrat in the federal Attorney General's Office:
Judge lashed for accusing ASIO of kidnap by Tom Allard
As regards the 'old style' - by which we mean the ex Howard Govt regime - of pretty much a blank cheque to the national security industry, we suspect the federal Attorney General's Office might want to put alot more energy into dealing with a 'ticking Christmas present'. That is the metaphor by sharp political satirists Clark and Dawe last spot for the year (21/12/07) re new inquiries in to the AWB Saddam bribery scandal. Who in the Howard Govt knew? What will come out in the strident defence cases of those charged last week (what a Christmas present), a good year after the Inquiry, and conveniently post federal election? What legal advice did the AG Dept give the Howard Govt and how adequate and indeed ethical was it?
This is not just some clever script by some comics with good ABC/political contacts:
AWB is not over yet | The Australian 21 Dec 2007
And to quote the editorial:
December 21, 2007
A Senate inquiry would serve the public interestTHE AWB bribery scandal raised two significant issues of national importance. The first is the legal status, both corporate and criminal, of AWB officials paying bribes to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that were disguised as transport payments to circumvent UN sanctions. The second question is whether it was incompetence or worse that prevented the Australian government from taking action to stop it. [bold added]