Thursday, 2 August 2007

Jack Thomas loses challenge on control orders

This morning (August 2, 2007), the High Court handed down its judgment in the case of Thomas v Mowbray - better known as the challenge by Joseph Terence "Jihad Jack" Thomas against the control orders placed on him by the Federal Government under the new anti-terror laws.

By 5 to 2, the Court found the legislation allowing the control orders valid. The Wombats were not surprised, only disappointed, angered, and
and somewhat peeved.

Unsurprised, because we have little trust left in the corrupt, empty shell that is the liberal bourgeoise democracy and its 'rule of law'.

Angered at a system (it extends beyond merely one government, federal or otherwise) that should allow such a law to be passed in the first place, and angered that the High Court should go against even the logic of its own flawed tradition and reasoning and support the legislation. That an unconvicted man could be placed under such a regime.

Angered also that it comes so soon after the victory for Dr Mohamed Haneef, the Indian doctor arrested for terrorism (and subsequently bailed, then had his visa revoked, then had the charges dropped, then got deported anyway) because he gave his cousin a SIM card, and his cousing might have been involved in the bungled terror attcks in Britain. In so doing, the Thomas judgment gives the Howard Government a bit of a distraction in the terror stakes as its own bungling and political football-playing over Haneef is exposed bloodily in the media.

And not just a little peeved that at least one wombat now has an enormous (over 200 pages) judgment to read in order to scrabble together a 4000-word paper on the thing.

Justice Michael Kirby (who now bears the dubious title of most dissenting judge in High Court history) was true to form, as the fall-guy to straight-man Kenneth Hayne in the minority. Kirby's criticisms, however, reflect some of the central concerns felt about both the legislation and the judgment.

The High Court's decided that the defence power was a valid 'head of power' to enable the legislation under which Thomas' control was ordered.

The Wombats will provide (in a few days, once the judgment has been scrutinised -
maybe weeks given the size) an analysis of just how far this goes, but Kirby's concerns over the breadth of interpretation given to the defence power seem legitimate.

In a nutshell, the court found that the defence power could be used for the purposes of combating terrorism, and could be used for matters internal to Australia, both of which are somewhat worrying developments.

As Kirby points out:
“Moreover, drawing a line between acts designed to coerce or intimidate an Australian government for a political, religious or ideological cause (thus falling within the definition) and pure advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action (falling outside of the definition) could be difficult,’’
The Wombats will return later - including double-checking this decision with the Communist Party case and a few points on the Bill of Rights debate - but in the meantime, we are left with the hard facts. There's little point trusting in the dessicated follies of the legal system to protect civil liberties and basic human rights.

These things are won (as they always have been) on the streets and in the workplace.

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