Water Week

EWN Publishing

Disturbing, vague police-powers in Aus now endangering democracy, warns Australia Institute chief

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

More so than ever before in Australia, the police were empowered, if not in law then by implicit political fiat, to interrogate, intimidate and even assault people innocent of any crime but suspected of associating with the wrong people, wrote Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, in The Sydney Morning Herald (7/9/2007, p.26). Dire consequences: “They can admonish and warn off citizens, threatening them with unstated but implicitly dire consequences should they, for example, attend a protest during APEC or a demonstration against the US President, George Bush. When this happens we are deprived of our rights. In an observation that now has a resonance in our country, the American academic Guillermina Seri wrote: ‘Citizen encounters with the police open up a territory of unpredictability that blurs the distinction between written and secret laws, normalcy and exception. They are ultimately regulated by unwritten norms that those in charge of policing administer through their discretionary power,'” Hamilton added.

Reference: Clive Hamilton is the executive director of the Australia Institute. This is an edited extract of a talk delivered at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/9/2007, p. 26

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