Australian Politics 2020-09-24 15:48:00

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The terrifying police state Daniel Andrews wants to create: How innocent Victorians can be arrested and detained indefinitely without evidence – on the word of power-hungry public servants

The “Chairman Dan” name is well earned. Communist party bosses were usually named as chairmen

Innocent Victorians could be arrested in the street or at work and detained indefinitely by power-crazed officials under a new law Daniel Andrews wants to pass, top lawyers have warned.

The proposed new law, which will be debated in the Victorian parliament next month, would allow the government to give anyone it chooses – such as public servants – the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions and make arrests.

The unprecedented plan would also allow officials to detain people they suspect may spread coronavirus even if they have done nothing wrong.

Officials would also be able to follow up on tip-offs that Covid rules have been breached at a home or a workplace without needing the police to accompany them.

Eighteen esteemed former judges and lawyers have written an open letter warning that the law is ‘unprecedented, excessive and open to abuse’.

One of those lawyers, Ross Gillies QC, told Daily Mail Australia he fears power-hungry officials who enjoy exerting authority may abuse the powers given to them.

‘I don’t trust someone who is nominated by a public servant with the power to make arrests. I have real abiding concern that power is a very dangerous thing,’ he said.

‘Some people are excited by power and the ability to exert authority over someone else. There is the potential for enormous injustice.’

‘Someone might grab someone and say “I have reason to believe you are a Covid carrier or know someone who has Covid and I apprehend you”.

‘There would be no remedy in that situation. That may be the worst-case scenario but we know that can happen.’

Mr Gillies described the law, which has passed the lower house, as ‘draconian’ and urged the upper house to vote it down or amend it next month.

James Peters QC, who also signed the letter, expressed similar concerns. ‘Power is very intoxicating and only some people can exercise it carefully such as very well trained groups,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

Asked if the new law could see innocent Victorians being arrested in the street, he said: ‘That’s right, that’s a very big risk.’

Mr Peters said normally when somebody is arrested they are brought before a bail justice but the proposed law does not say that would happen.

Asked if it allows officials to indefinitely detain people under state of emergency powers, he said: ‘It could be read that way, yes.’

He also said it was unclear what redress people who are wrongfully arrested would have. ‘We have a traditional understanding of police power and redress to the courts if you have concern about how powers are exercised,’ he said.

‘But how are you able to effectively test the belief upon which you were restrained? ‘You might not find out about it [why you were arrested] until you get to court.’

He flagged that there could be a legal challenge if the law passes, saying: ‘When excessive powers are legislated, there is often a legal challenge.’

Asked if all 18 signatories to the letter would launch legal action together, he said: ‘I can’t speak for everyone I can only speak for myself.’

The proposed law does not specify who will be authorised to make arrests.

‘We just don’t know, that’s one of the vices. They could be anybody,’ said Mr Peters.

‘It’s not enough to say the problem can be managed without specifying who could be given the powers.’

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Andrews suggested the power to make arrests would be given to WorkSafe officials and health department workers.

At the moment police need to be present to make an arrest but Mr Andrews wants public servants to have that power on their own.

He said currently when a workplace is inspected to see if it is abiding by Covid-19 rules ‘there’s got to be someone from police, someone from WorkSafe, somebody from the Health Department, that doesn’t make any sense.

‘If we can essentially double or triple the resource available to you, it stands to reason that we’ll have more people doing the right thing. ‘

Mr Andrews said he wants to make sure supermarkets, abattoirs and other workplaces are adhering to strict rules including social distancing and limits on the number of workers on the premises at once.

Asked why he needs to give powers to detain people before they do anything wrong, he said: ‘They’re based on a reasonable belief principle and proportionality principle about the risk of spreading Covid.

‘There are some people who are not compliant, refuse to act in a responsible and safe way. Those powers would not be frequently used. They would be, I think, rare. But they are important.’

Those who could be arrested include positive patients or close contacts who officials suspect may refuse to self-isolate, such as protesters or people with mental health difficulties.

They could be taken to a hotel for mandatory quarantine for as long as the authorised officer believes is necessary.

Critics say Mr Andrews wants to create his own version of the Stasi, the East German secret police force which spied on citizens through a network of informants and arrested more than 250,000 people between 1950 and 1990.

The measures are outlined in the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020, which will meet resistance when read in the upper house next month.

Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside has raised concerns that government workers authorised to make arrests may not be able to accurately determine whether someone poses a risk of spreading Covid-19.

‘The bill introduces a preventative detention regime which appears to have little protections or oversight, and provides far too much discretion to people who may lack the necessary expertise to determine risk, including police officers,’ he said.

Victoria’s state of emergency and disaster powers, extended until October 11, give police the power to detain someone ‘for the period reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health’.

Police officers can also search people’s homes without a warrant and restrict movement between locations such as between regional Victoria and Melbourne.

Gideon Rozner, Director of Policy at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs told Daily Mail Australia the legislation was ‘extremely dangerous’ and would create the ‘Daniel Andrews Stasi’.

‘It will allow Dan Andrews to effectively appoint anyone he wants as an authorised officer, with extraordinarily broad discretion to enforce Victoria’s emergency powers,’ he said.

‘Union leaders could be appointed to unleash retribution on small business owners who speak out against lockdowns.

‘Labor Party officials could be appointed to intimidate political opponents. ‘I Stand With Dan’ types could be appointed to spy on their friends and neighbours.

‘Not since East Germany have we seen such a monstrous web of government surveillance. The Victorian Parliament must vote down this bill and say no to the Dan Andrews Stasi.’

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Leftist State government suppports copper miner

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday scored a trifecta — a high-vis jacket, a hard hat and a marginal seat.

The setting was a copper refinery in southern Townsville, and the announcement was an undisclosed “one-off incentive” payment to global resources company Glencore.

The 2020 state election campaign is indeed ramping up.

The reason for handing over taxpayers’ money to a global company is to “secure the jobs of more than 1,000 people”, but the public is given no opportunity to scrutinise this.

In effect, we’re being asked to accept Glencore’s assertion it needs the money to continue its Australian copper operations and to accept the Government’s word it has secured the best deal possible.

But in the context of the looming election, the Government’s bargaining position doesn’t look strong, with hundreds of jobs at stake in some of the state’s most marginal seats.

Glencore has been threatening to shut down its Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville copper refinery for the best part of a decade.

A planned closure in 2016 was staved off when the Queensland Government agreed to amend environmental-licensing conditions — a deal which ensured the smelter and refinery would stay open until at least 2022.

With that deadline approaching, Glencore this year announced its copper operations were again under review, with a final decision to be made just before the state election.

The Glencore refinery is smack bang in the middle of the electorate of Mundingburra, and a short drive to the nearby electorates of Townsville and Thuringowa.

All three seats are held by Labor by the smallest of margins, and given Labor only has a majority of two seats in Parliament, it’s impossible to underestimate the refinery’s political importance.

Government ‘leaving Queenslanders in the dark’
At a media conference on Tuesday, the Premier said the “investment” in the copper operations was “commercial in confidence”.

Ms Palaszczuk argued it was about “securing the jobs of more than 1,000 people in Mount Isa and Townsville for the next three years”.

Treasurer Cameron Dick would only go as far as revealing it was a “multi-million-dollar” deal.

“We enter into a number of arrangements with corporations and companies which support jobs, and we don’t make any apologies for that,” Mr Dick said.

Glencore Australia provided more detail in its public statement, describing the Government’s contribution as a “one-off incentive”.

“In addition to this incentive, Glencore will invest more than $500 million for the continued operation of the copper smelter and refinery,” the statement said.

“This incentive will partially mitigate the negative cost of continuing these assets which face high costs and struggle to compete internationally.”

Professor of economics at the University of Queensland John Quiggin said it was “pretty striking” this deal was announced as global copper prices had surged.

The business news service Bloomberg reported the global copper market could be “on the cusp of a historical supply squeeze as Chinese demand runs red hot”.

Professor Quiggin said the Mount Isa smelter had repeatedly been on the brink of closure since 2011.

“So, this decision isn’t really related to the pandemic or the global market,” he said.

Economist Fabrizio Carmignani from Griffith University said a subsidy from the Government made sense if the operation was facing some temporary difficulty.

“[However] from the statement of Glencore, it would look like their problems are structural — high fixed costs, unable to compete,” he said.

While he understood the need to protect jobs, Professor Carmignani said structural problems needed to be tackled by longer-term plans.

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Brisbane Residents fear 30m tall Moreton Bay fig tree will be bulldozed to make way for a 15 storey unit tower

Brisbane people love their figtrees, which are native to the area. There is always a furore if a big one is threatened with being cut down. The developer should have been aware of that

Woody Point residents fear Traders in Purple are about to bulldoze a 120-year-old fig tree to make way for a 45m tall unit tower, which is yet to get the tick of approval from the courts.

The 30m tall tree sits on the site of the former Palace Hotel at Gayundah Esplanade Woody Point, north of Brisbane.

Traders in Purple hope to knock down the tree to make way for a 15 storey 158-unit tower and 13 two-bedroom townhouses.

The development was approved by Moreton Bay Regional Council late last year, despite residents’ objections.

Residents’ main concerns were loss of lifestyle, traffic and the fact the development is more than double the height recommended under the council’s planning scheme.

Group president Derek Catterall says they were still waiting on a decision to be handed down by the judge. Mr Catterall, who lives behind the proposed development, said the tree was part of the region’s history.

“WPAG had tried to get the tree listed as ‘significant’ with council, but was told by the Strategic Planning and Place Making Team Leader that this complicated process could take several years,” he said.

“We don’t have several years, as (Traders in Purple) has already been given the go ahead by council to build the Gold Coast-style high-rise towers,” he said.

“Apparently the development approval did not require the tree, which is an important food source for native birds, flying foxes and butterflies, to be retained.”

Mr Catterall said WPAG members had met with Division six Councillor Karl Winchester asking him to investigate options to either save or relocate the tree.

“It’s also ironic that a magnificent tree of this age, size, and historical significance is directly opposite the Woody Point Arboretum and yet is earmarked to be destroyed,” he said.

Mr Catterall said the magnificent tree could be seen from many residences and streets of the southern area of Woody Point including the foreshore at Crockatt Park, the Woody Point Jetty and Gayundah Lookout. “It’s so substantial it can even be seen above the skyline from the beaches at Clontarf,” he said.

Mr Catterall said an Eco Arboriculture Australia report found that this type of tree could live to 500 years of age and, with regular maintenance, could be retained for future generations and the local habitat.

The report also stated a vegetation protection order should be placed on the tree and heritage listed with the Council as it was a natural asset to the entire area.

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Barrister With ‘Offensive’ Number Plate In Legal Battle Over Free Speech

A high profile barrister has found himself caught in a legal battle because of his ‘offensive’ private number plate which reads ‘LGOPNR’.

Peter Lavac, from Palm Beach in Sydney, has managed to successfully challenge the order from Transport NSW, but it still wants them to be banned.

If you hadn’t already worked it out, the letters ‘LGOPNR’ mean ‘leg opener’ (vom) and Mr Lavac claims that he was ‘taking to p***’ out of himself by attaching them to his yellow Lamborghini.

He claims that 99 out of 100 people wouldn’t know what the letters actually stand for, adding that it’s ‘tough s***’.

Transport NSW gave him 18 days to change the number plate and in a letter, they wrote: “Transport for NSW determined that these number plates could be considered offensive and must be returned.”

But Mr Lavac, a defence barrister and former Hong Kong crown prosecutor, was having none of it and told The Sunday Telegraph: “I resent anyone who’s trying to violate my freedom of speech and expression.

“They [the number plates] are meant to be humorous, tongue-in-cheek, funny and entertaining. That is how most people find them when it’s explained to them.

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Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here