by Joe Toscano, Anarchist Media Institute, Australia

Hezbollah today, The Anarchist Media Institute tomorrow, The Country Women's Association next week! The Federal government has reactivated its campaign to have the most contentious aspect of its security bills passed through Federal parliament. Concerned about the sustained public pressure being exerted on the Howard government as a consequence of the Prime Minister's appointment of Peter Hollingworth as Governor General, they are using the spectre of threats to the nation's security to push legislation through Federal parliament to give the Attorney General extraordinary powers to deal with perceived security threats (threats largely due to the Australian government's unilateral support for the neo-conservative Bush administrations First Strike policy).

If the current push to pass the draconian aspects of the security bill succeeds, the Attorney General, not parliament, would have the power to ban any organisation that any of Australia's six security agencies deems to be a threat. If this legislation is passed, members of the banned organisation, and anybody who raises funds for the organisation or disseminates material that may have been produced by the organisation, can be jailed for up to twenty-five years.

The Federal Attorney General would have the sole power to ban overnight an organisation that is working legally one day and obeying the laws of the land and declared illegal the next day, by issuing a notice that the organisation is deemed a threat to the security of the country. Historically, the greatest threat posed to a people is the threat of the nation state having the power to arbitrarily detain, interrogate and imprison members of organisations that it perceives to be pursuing agendas that are contrary to the interests of the nation. The history of the 20th century is littered with examples of what happens when the State is able to exercise absolute power.

Giving the Federal Attorney General power to arbitrarily ban organisations is a recipe for creating the conditions that allowed the Hitlers, Stalins, Pinochets and Pol Pots of the world to use State power to destroy both their political opponents and civil society.