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Issue #1922      July 6, 2020

AFP/ASIO raids

Who will be next?

The raids on the offices and homes of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane and a staffer from his office on 26th June should ring alarm bells for every democratically minded citizen of Australia. The raids are political and racist.

The corporate media were at the ready, the political lynching started immediately the raids were launched. The shock jocks wasted no time in joining the lynch mob. They used every dirty trick in the book – China-bashing, racism, and slander, and even roped in Moselmane’s wife as being complicit. Anything to turn the public against the MP and staffer without a shred of evidence. Moselmane had not been charged with any offence, let alone found guilty.

We used to live in a country where there was the presumption of innocence before being found guilty. Not any more!

Battery of anti-democratic laws

Commencing with the Howard government in the early 2000s, successive Australian governments have passed, with the support of Labor, more than eighty pieces of legislation eating away at our democratic rights in the name of “national security.” These bills were presented as anti-terrorism measures, couched in such terms as protecting our “democracy,” “freedoms,” “values,” and “way of life.”

Each successive piece of legislation placed further restrictions on our democratic rights and freedoms, further eroding the rights they claimed to protect. The potential application of many of the bills extends far beyond fighting terrorism to such actions as peaceful protests and dissent.

These laws lie in wait for future use. They were not passed to lie idle on the books.

At every step the Labor Party hopped on board with the Coalition, thus ensuring the bills were passed. On some occasions there was not time to even read the text of what was being rammed through the Senate.

Labor is again complicit. This time with NSW ALP Opposition leader Jodie McKay all too eager to seek the expulsion of Moselmane from the party and to have him stood down from Parliament.

The raids were done under espionage and foreign interference bills passed in 2018. The main target of the bills is the People’s Republic of China. That was clear from the Minister’s Second Reading Speech. Convictions under the foreign espionage bill carry a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.

In a statement to the media, Moselmane said he had made a number of visits to China, and had supplied wheelchairs to disabled children there and in a number of other countries. He has previously been criticised for praising the way China handled the pandemic, something which members of the government did at the time as well as leading medical practitioners and the World Health Organisation also did.

“I have done nothing wrong, I have never jeopardised the welfare of our country and our people,” he told a media conference. He called on the media to revert to the basic journalistic principles of objectivity, privacy, and told them that his family does not deserve the harassment and intimidation they have experienced.

Attack on Labor

The timing of the raids does not appear to be an accident – on the eve of an important by-election in the cliff-hanger seat of Eden Monaro. Labor is already reeling from the branch-stacking scandal in Victoria.

Foreign corporations that lobby governments have nothing to fear although they seek to influence Australian governments. Nor has the United States which by and large dictates Australian foreign policy and even commands our military forces in the Northern Territory.

These powers are there to protect the state that exists to protect the interests of the capitalist class.

At times like these it is worth recalling the powerful words of Friedrich Niemöller, the famous German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me*

Niemöller was elected as a president of the World Council of Churches in 1961 and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1966. He had spent time in two Nazi concentration camps.

His poem is a timely reminder that we cannot remain passive but must speak out and take action to halt the attack on our democratic and trade union rights – what is left of them – before it is too late.

* There are various versions of the poem, but the sentiments are the same.

Next article – Editorial – Stop ABC Cuts!

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