back to article Writing about an Australian Snowden would land Vulture South in the clink

Australia isn't just passing a spooks' charter: it's creating a regime in which journalists would be as much at risk as the whistle-blowers whose efforts they chronicle. Here's the bill, and here's the explanatory memorandum. In spite of Attorney-General George Brandis' insistence that the government doesn't intend to target …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Race to the bottom

    It seems the whole world is competing for who can maintain the most draconian 'security' system.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. The Dude

    Perhaps this is the time to mention that all these spooks and government officials are people, like you and I and our neighbours. They all put on their trousers one leg at a time. So, if they are trying to grant themselves powers, exemptions, privileges or whatever, that you would not be happy with every one of your friends, family, neighbors having... then why would anyone be comfortable with strangers working at the government having such things?

    This really does have to stop, and clearly the government workers cannot stop themselves.

    1. Paul Smith
      Thumb Up

      Very well said

      I could not have put it better.

    2. Preston Munchensonton

      I could not agree with your sentiments any stronger. However, the reality is that the proliferation of socialist programs that support the masses (welfare, socialized medicine, etc.) has the majority in position to keep those who have power in such a state. Power-hungry politicians must lose their seats of power to prevent this erosion of individual liberty to continue, though the real question is how to accomplish such a monumental upheaval. Unless the masses come to their senses and vote in the self-interest of their liberties instead of their handouts, I don't see how this situation will change without drastic and, frankly, evil means to accomplish good (which is really a non-starter to me).

      So much for Hobbes and Locke. They're both spinning like centrifuges in their graves.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Tip of the Iceberg...

    The US and the Brits are processing various legislations to "improve" their stance, but the Aussies beat everyone to it, it would appear. I guess I'm waiting for the rest of the 5 Eyes as well as every other place on the face of this planet to pull the same thing.

    The UN has just started screaming about privacy/surveillance but that won't matter. The Dude is right as is Will Godfrey (see above). But f**kall those of us not in power can do at this point. I just don't see revolution occurring as they (the Governments) are too far gone and have too much info already.

    I question what Thomas Jefferson said: "People get the government they deserve.". Do we really deserve this? And is it right that this is being done?

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Tip of the Iceberg...

      We, personally, may not deserve it, but we, taken as a group, ... Thomas is pretty right-on.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Tip of the Iceberg...

      Thomas Jefferson also said that a little revolution every couple hundred years is a good and healthy thing! Can you smell it on the wind yet?

      1. tony2heads
        Big Brother


        No, I can only smell the "powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity" (to quote Tennessee Williams)

        The moment governments shout 'Terrorist' or 'Paedo' I smell bullshit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tip of the Iceberg... v revolution

        revolution is a code-word used by terrorists bent on destroying the values we all love: free mass-media (surveillance), unrestricted travel (surveillance), freedom of expression (surveillance), and the mass surveillance itself, chosen on our behalf by the wise political leaders.

        You're a terrorist sir, and you shall be treated as such.

    3. Cipher
      Big Brother

      Re: Tip of the Iceberg...

      We Americans have twice voted for the "Most Transparent Administration in History."

      We asked for this, we got it. We the Sheeple...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tip of the Iceberg...

      But f**kall those of us not in power can do at this point. I just don't see revolution occurring as they (the Governments) are too far gone and have too much info already.

      You don't need a revolution - you need to start thinking differently (and certainly avoid giving up, because that's what everyone is working on right now). Turn the problem on its head and start working on ways in which you can use those new laws to get its proponents in trouble. A good example is mistakes made - instead of those bing "honest mistakes" (we're all human) you can treat those made by high end people as suspicious as they have direct impact on that celebrated "national security". There *are* real bad people out there, but a lack of transparency offers them a nice place to hide.

      Every sword has two edges - start thinking.

      1. Preston Munchensonton
        Big Brother

        Re: Tip of the Iceberg...

        "You don't need a revolution"

        Personally, I either need a revolution, or I need a new planet. This one sucks.

  4. paleoflatus

    It looks like a good time for more encryption and anonymisation - if you haven't done that already.

    If we all did it, they'd never be able to handle their surveillance case-load.

    1. LaeMing

      Nah, they'd just lock us all up. Just to be sure.

    2. NumptyScrub

      quote: "It looks like a good time for more encryption and anonymisation - if you haven't done that already.

      If we all did it, they'd never be able to handle their surveillance case-load."

      GCHQ will just lean on the local police to force you to disclose under RIPA Section 49; refusal is a criminal offense in the UK.

      US citizens at least have the 5th Amendment, although I'm not sure for how much longer.

      1. Preston Munchensonton
        Big Brother

        In the US, so long as they can make a case that you are inhibiting Commerce among the states (Article 1, Section 8), they can strip your right to anything. For a good mind fuck, read up on this case from the 40s:

        That was the death of Liberty in the US and few people will even recognize it.

  5. DiViDeD

    Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

    This is just a teeny tiny extension to the powers these fucks have already awarded themselves.

    - Ignore our obligations under UNHCR treaties we signed up for. Bit of yelling from the Lefties, but it soon settled down. Many people I've spoken to seem to accept the doublethink Abbot position of 'Yes, we must help people who are persecuted or in fear of the lives', but simultaneously, 'Not if they're a bit brown or have sloping eyes, obviously'

    - Refuse to answer questions relating to the mistreatment, torture and now murder of detained refugees. Worked well. Even supposed 'liberals' I've spoken to seem to believe that we don't need to know what's going on, we have to stop the boat people, and if that means giving the bastards the right to secretly hand over Tamil refugees to the Sri Lankan Navy, well, rather that than that the people worry about it.

    It's interesting that the new powers are not *targetted* at journalists, but have been framed in such a way that, when the time comes to silence a troublesome voice, the framework is already in place and, since nobody protested its introduction, we must therefore be perfectly happy with it being used against journalists.

    After al, if the government was doing something wrong, they'd tell us, wouldn't they? Oh no, they wouldn't, because they've already established they don't have to.

    Aussies really need to tear Canberra down, bulldoze over the remains and start again, because what we love about this country is disappearing in a sea of shit.

    Just my initial response. On a Friday. After a hard week. And after the umpteenth 'these people' comment from this 'Fair Go' governement.

    1. btrower

      Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS


      Well said. Let's face it, *we* are the enemy they fear. All of the various noxious legislation is aimed at keeping us all quiet. There cannot possibly be more than a million or so of these miserable weasels worldwide. We outnumber them thousands to one. They are really pushing for advantage. Hopefully we will *all* of us start pushing back.

    2. RealFred

      Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

      You may like to look back on recent history. It was the lunatic left that spied on other countries leaders and their wives, tried to introduce internet filters and generally spy on all of us citizens. I don't see you criticising them, perhaps your political beliefs don't allow you to.

      You may like to do a bit of research about the supposed Tamil refugees and you will find that they are neither Tamil's or refugees but rather people who decided they didn't like where they were and paid to go to New Zealand. They boats were intercepted in International waters and they were returned to the nearest port.

      Journalists are not sacrosanct. They, at times, need to be pulled into line to stop them from misbehaving and publishing lies and halftruths. Their editors won't do it because it makes money for the organisation. I know a few journalists from both sides of the park and they sometimes are fairly free with the truth.

      Hopefully these new laws won't pass the Senate, but I wouldn't bet on labor or Palmer voting against them

      1. Psyx

        Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

        "They, at times, [the media] need to be pulled into line to stop them from misbehaving and publishing lies and halftruths. "

        How is that relevant to this?

        Likewise your issue with immigrants. As in immigrants currently, rather than immigrants from a hundred years ago, who you are obviously ok with.

        1. RealFred

          Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

          I have no problem with immigrants, as long as they wait in line and take their proper turn. There are immigrants who have done the right thing and are being penalised. The queue jumpers can wait their turn. Don't try and make it seem like its a racist remark. It isn't

          Part of the article talks about not restricting the media. Thats where it comes from. The media seem to think they can do as they please because they are the media. They need to observe some level of respect for fellow citizens. Following someone and sticking a microphone in their face while asking stupid questions is not journalism. Its thuggery.

          1. M Gale

            Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

            Following someone and sticking a microphone in their face while asking stupid questions is not journalism. Its thuggery.

            Doesn't that kind of depend on who the person is and what the questions are?

            Like if the person has "MP" in their title and whether the questions are about "expenses"?

            Or perhaps "surveillance", "paranoia", or "psychopathic fuckers."

            You want to get that kind of a job, telling everyone else what to do, treading on toes and sticking daggers into backs in order to squirm and wriggle your way to the top, you'd better damned well be prepared for some hard questions, at any time, day or night, anywhere you go.

            And if you're caught with your pants down and your fingers in the till? Well you're the one trying to tell us we should all be saints. If you do anything other than act spotlessly you will be torn several new arseholes without mercy and that's the way it goes.

          2. asiaseen

            Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

            "There are immigrants who have done the right thing and are being penalised."

            In the context of Australia, I just had to laugh at that.

            1. RealFred

              Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

              Because China has such a wonderful human rights record.?

              1. asiaseen

                Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

                What is the relevance of China to the discussion?

        2. NogginTheNog

          Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS

          Likewise your issue with immigrants. As in immigrants currently, rather than immigrants from a hundred years ago, who you are obviously ok with.

          This is what *really* pisses me off with the whole immigration thing: we're ALL immigrants, or have some descendancy from them, if you look back far enough up your family tree. (And speaking to all those objectors here:) the reason YOU were born here, and not wherever these immigrants are 'flooding' in from? Well that was pure bloody chance! No skill or choice was involved, so how the hell can you think that gives you the right to say you deserve to be somewhere, but others don't?!!

          This is especially hypocritical of the 'newer' nations (America, Canada, The US, South America even?) which were formed by European immigrants, but also of the older countries. We all started out originally in Africa!

      2. DiViDeD

        Re: Australian Federal Government - The New NORKS


        You know, you just demonstrated these fuckers' REAL power. If I criticise Abbot and his bunch of trough swilling cronies, it can only be because I have undying love and admiration for Shorten, Rudd, and THEIR trough swilling cronies.

        Like I said in my original post, Australians (and I include myself) need to get off our collective arses and boot the whole bunch of them into the Tasman. Saying 'Ah, my Party might be weasels, but your party are weasels too' expresses the truth while still refusing to admit it.

        They are lying, cheating, self serving cunts whose idea of long term strategy for the Australian nation is 'Keep the buggers quiet until I can retire to my well paid Corporate Consultancy job'

        And that's all of them.

        Every single one.

        Except for Clive Palmer of course, who in addition to the above is also a twat.

        Just my dispassionate and objective take on things, is all

  6. btrower

    Don't give up hope

    We still outnumber the bastards and at the end of the day this is all about power over *people*. At least to some extent, they can only do this if we allow them to.

    So far, we have not shown much backbone in standing up to people in power, but I am hopeful that the people who did things like come out for OWS will eventually find out how badly they were swindled and rise up much stronger.

    It seems impossible to understand, but the majority of people accept that the official version of things is mostly real or at least 'real enough'. When they finally realize with certainty that it is not, they may well become impossible to stop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't give up hope

      "they may well become impossible to stop."

      Mass surveillance requires electricity. 'Nuff said.

    2. RobHib

      @btrower -- Re: Don't give up hope

      Hope you're right, but depressingly I don't see it.

      These stories make me feel sick. We might outnumber the bastards but they've hypnotised the citizenry from reacting to their excesses with one distraction after distraction another--from iPhones to high-definition TV, to sport, to reality TV--even weekends aren't free any more. There's no time to think.

      Tragically, I don't see a skerrick of opposition in the Western World, there's just no will to fight the bastards. Citizens have rolled over, they know they've not a chance against corporate lobbying and big international power. Thus, they also know their vote only effectively represents about one third the value it ought to have. So there's no point in whingeing.

      Roman emperors learned this propaganda trick several millennia ago. Everywhere Rome went amphitheatres appeared.


      1. Sir Runcible Spoon
        Black Helicopters

        Re: @btrower -- Don't give up hope

        There will only be a revolution when the people are prepared to forgo their luxuries and make a stand by not buying anything except basic essentials.

        The whole situation is 'a mars bar for your password' writ large as far as I can see.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where are the bombs?

    This type of thing might possibly be justifiable if bombs had gone off, and people killed, as a result of leaks and journalist actions. But no bombs have gone off for any reason. It is just ASIO et al whispering to the very conservative politicians.

    The last bomb to kill anyone in Australia was the Sydney Hilton Bombing in 1978. And that bomb was almost certainly placed in a botched operation by ASIO and special branch. (Look it up.)

    This type of legislation does not protect Australians, it protects the individuals in the security forces from scrutiny. They are frightened of the transparency that the internet can provide.

  8. Hud Dunlap
    Big Brother

    Define Journalist

    That is the game that is being played in the U.S. Senate. Basically people who work for the Main Stream Media are journalist, nobody else is. Right now that bill is dead. It might get hidden in another bill though.

  9. Denarius Silver badge

    whistleblower legislation

    not much use from the little mainstream media I read. Just helps the PHBs identify targets for HR to persecute. Just waiting for the Fat Man to claim more powers for the spooks needed because of MH17. As for this legislations workability, some coffee spots and bars around Canberra will become dens of iniquity under this piece of paper. Ah, an excuse to drink on the job! Now it makes sense.

  10. Someone Else Silver badge

    The sweet irony is...

    ..that the 5 Eyes countries all puff up their collective chests and boast...about how "democratic" they all are. It would be laughable, if only I could stop crying.

    1. Heathroi

      Re: The sweet irony is...

      really there is only one "eye' and that eye has four poodles who know who doles out the tucker.

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Big Brother

      Re: The sweet irony is...

      "The sweet irony is.....that the 5 Eyes countries all puff up their collective chests and boast...about how "democratic" they all are. It would be laughable, if only I could stop crying."

      Truthfully, they are being democratic, i.e. majority rule. If you think the majority want to give up their government goodies to instead taste liberty, you are fooling yourself. The masses want something for nothing and they're willing to continue to elect these scum-sucking, power-hungry bastards to make that happen.

  11. John Tserkezis

    Remember "the seven words you can't say on the internet"? We're due for seven new words. Flood the interwebs with these and they won't know which way up to look. I'll start the first one "Snowden". There, now the world as we know it will come crashing down.

  12. sandman

    Democracy RIP

    I really wish people would stop pretending that there is any real form of democracy in the UK and US (I can't speak for any other countries - insufficient knowledge). Both states are run by a political class - even to the extent that there are political dynasties - think Kennedy, Bush and Clinton for starters. I was under the impression that Americans once fought to be free from dynastic rule, but obviously times change.

    The political class is supported and financed by a business class and semi-controlled by a media with its own selfish agenda.

    If you look at the policy choices us proles are offered, the different parties give us pretty much the same choices, ranging from slightly selfish individualist capitalism to outright barkingly selfish individualist capitalism. All our problems are blamed on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society and we accept all this is the new normal (you can now make sheep noises).

    What we are governed by are self-perpetuating oligarchies, intent on keeping power and enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of the population. Their greatest achievement is convincing us that there is no alternative - something enforced by all arms of the state (to return to the original article).

  13. Winkypop Silver badge

    Attorney-General George Brandis

    A particularly nasty piece of work.

    Mind you, Abbott's cabinet is crawling with awful, bigoted, white men, and one scary mad woman.

    1. RealFred

      Re: Attorney-General George Brandis

      And the previous government was inhabited by a scary redhead who was a puppet for the unions and a barking mad Queenslander who thought the sun shone out of his own arse. They were so caring for the Australian people that as soon as they lost the election, they both scarpered to overseas jobs, leaving Shorten (another union puppet) to carry the can. They left Australia with a mountain of future debt that will take a lifetime to pay off.

      These previous leaders were the ones that bugged the Malaysian Prime Ministers phone and his wifes phone and ran and hid when they were discovered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Attorney-General George Brandis

        They left Australia with a mountain of future debt that will take a lifetime to pay off.

        A bit like UK's New Labour then. They sold off all the gold at the worst possible time, taxed anything that moved (idiotically, that even included the pension funds, which is why nobody has a decent pension left) and STILL managed to finish with a smoking crater of a deficit, which is even more disgusting if you know they started with a surplus. The leader of that gang eventually exited with so much loot he had to set up his own private bank to manage it all. Meanwhile, CCTV and surveillance spread (makes sense - if you're up to no good you have to keep an eye on the plebs to make sure they don't grow wise to it).

        You really aren't the only ones.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ RealFred

        Keep on reading Rupert's rags son.

        1. RealFred

          Re: @ RealFred

          Actually, I read a wide range of views and articles plus do my own research. It allows me to make up my own mind about matters. Maybe you should try it sometime son. You may be able to take off your blinkers and stop following the labor dogma so blindly

  14. Swarthy Silver badge

    Well, That's AUS off the list

    Is there ANY decent technological country where English is a primary/common language that isn't going down the shitter; preferably with a coffee-drinking culture? I'm looking for where to go in 5-10 years. Switzerland looks promising, but the cost of living seems a tad high.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Well, That's AUS off the list

      Hmmm, how about Canada? Frankly - along with some of the Scandinavian countries - it's the only other place I could imagine living in - all the rest of the usual suspects are absolutely on "couldn't convince me to stay in for any price these days" basis.

      1. riparian zone

        Re: Well, That's AUS off the list

        Echo those thoughts, it all reminds of the 'Age of stupidity' before the eco disasters begin..set in Norway if I remember rightly. The demographics of controlling deluded baby boomers and indifferent post millennials being shat on...

  15. theOtherJT Silver badge

    There really is no phrase I can imagine wanting to see less in a law than "Is likely to". It's the ultimate in weasel words. You don't have to justify _anything_ once that phrase is in there.

    Did someone break a law? No, but it doesn't matter tho, we thought they WERE LIKELY TO so we can act as if they did.

    Horrible, horrible, dangerous wording.

  16. Josh Holman
    Big Brother

    Outside the limit of our sight, feeding off us, perched on top of us, from birth to death, are our owners! Our owners! They have us. They control us! They are our MASTERS! Wake up! They're all about you! All around you!

  17. the_snowgoose

    Removal of links

    It would appear the Goverment has broken the links to your story, dispite a vigerous search of the Australian Parliment's website, cannot find a copy of the Bill or Memorandum. It does make one question, if not outright be worrisom, of the Government's intention.

    1. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: Removal of links

      The links to the PDFs are working from the US. Can't speak for elsewhere.

    2. RealFred

      Re: Removal of links

      The links still work from Australia, so its either your government or your browser.

  18. dhcp pump

    Lest We Forget !

    Take a step back in time before the overwhelming surveillance we have now.

    Reasons for surveillance increase .

    1 - Massive import of "freedom" seeking persons from terrorist states ,or from breeding grounds for said terroristista,eventaully leading to a groundswell of "like minded " individuals emerging as what would have been termed in ww2 as sleepers,and even then categorised as a threat to the country.

    Said persons dont seem tio like the peace and freedom and must create chaos or rebellion in their new country ,which they think they have the right to do ,well they dont !.

    2 - Increase in terrorism events ,911,Bali , and recent.

    Over-surveillance is the result of knee jerk reactions to past events unfortunately,and often miscalculated,over cooked and often are not as effective as a long term strategy, of educating the people as to the "why's".

    If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about !.

    It'll make you think.

    Henry Ford : "If you believe you can do a something or if you believe you cannot ,you are right !.".

  19. cortland

    " is, or is likely to be, involved in activities that pose a risk to, or are likely to pose a risk to, the operational security of ASIS”."

    Anyone on the payroll, right!

  20. strings

    Steng Verboten

    El Reg , its now Streng Verboten !! ....

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