Water Week

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Danger of return to 1950s, when ASIO watched anyone regarded as vaguely left-wing, warns Australia Institute chief

Posted by waterweek on 2 October 2007

We were in danger of returning to the dark days of the 1950s and ’60s when ASIO, armed with excessive powers, carried out surveillance of anyone regarded as vaguely left-wing, including peace groups, anti-war activists and women’s groups, wrote Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, in The Sydney Morning Herald (7/9/2007, p.27).

Unaccountable agencies: The security organisations were largely unaccountable, at least to anybody that might take a critical view of their activities and attempt to rein them in. “We have subsequently learned that ASIO had a para­noid culture that made it jump at shadows. Most operatives, including the leadership, had crude political views and their reports on the activities of individuals and groups judged a threat were often laughable, in retrospect at least. These are the lessons of history, yet who today could have confidence that the current Federal Government and its agencies will implement the anti-terror laws fairly and with due attention to questions of natural justice?,” Hamilton wondered.

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. 27

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One Response to “Danger of return to 1950s, when ASIO watched anyone regarded as vaguely left-wing, warns Australia Institute chief”

  1. smashcrab said

    “1950s, when ASIO watched anyone regarded as vaguely left-wing” – Compared to now, where they just watch everyone.

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