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Peter Dutton Is Introducing A New ASIO Bill That Takes Away Your Rights

If you still can’t see the similarities between Peter Dutton and Lord Voldemort, his draconian new ASIO bill sure ought to prove how much of an actual villain he is.

Under the cover of all this coronavirus mayhem, Peter Dutton has introduced a new bill that’s well and truly fucked.

I’m talking the ‘straight up removing your fundamental rights’ kind of fucked that we typically associate with dystopian movies about authoritarian regimes and surveillance states.

The new bill titled “Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020” looks to give ASIO the right to track an individual without a warrant, the right to question children, and to stop you from exercising your fundamental right of choosing your own lawyer.

It’s really, really, REALLY serious stuff, and it’s concerning that parliament itself has fewer people than usual to look over this because of coronavirus. Sounds like a terrifyingly sneaky strategy on behalf of He Who Must Not Be Named.

What Exactly Does This ASIO Bill Mean?

Peter Dutton’s new ‘Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020’ is a huge attack on the rights of children, defendants and lawyer-client relationships. Here are the key points.

Children’s Rights

The bill allows ASIO to seek a warrant to question children between 14 and 18 years old if that child is targeted in an ASIO investigation involving politically-motivated violence. The criteria in which that can happen is super vague and broad, which raises concerns about how it can be used against children and young people.

Your Right To Having A Lawyer

The bill also proposes to allow a judge or AAT member to prevent a person from contacting their lawyer if “satisfied, based on circumstances relating to the lawyer, that, if the subject is permitted to contact the lawyer, a person involved in activity prejudicial to security may be alerted that the activity is being investigated, or that a record or other thing the subject may be requested to produce might be destroyed, damaged or altered.

Basically, ASIO can stop a person from contacting their lawyer based on hear-say evidence. All they would have to do is say that a person is a security risk based on “sources”, and that person’s fundamental rights get whisked away. This is a fucking crazy move and undermines the basis of democracy. Everyone deserves a fair trial and legal rights, and that’s literally not possible without a defendant getting their own lawyer.

ASIO’s Ability To Remove Your Lawyer

Even if a defendant then gets their lawyer, this bill would then allow ASIO to remove the lawyer of the person they’re questioning if the lawyer’s conduct is unduly disrupting questioning. This may be the case where, for example, a lawyer repeatedly interrupts questioning (other than to make reasonable requests for clarification or a break to provide advice), in a way that prevents or hinders questions being asked or answered.”

This again, is a fucking crazy attack on our rights. Seriously, have a think about all the irrelevant questions that  authorities can ask, and how lawyers defend their clients and make sure they’re only questioned on relevant information – now, ASIO can remove a lawyer for “disrupting” questioning – WHICH IS LITERALLY THEIR JOB.

It’s a lawyer’s role to prevent intense questioning of their client in the goal of proving their innocence – that’s how our court systems work. The defendant’s lawyer has to make sure that the defendant has the best opportunity possible to not be found guilty – so obviously, they shake up the interrogation process.

This bill actively denies pretty much any protection of the accused, and it’s even more frightening when you see that this is in the same bill that proposes the questioning of children. So if a lawyer interrupts an ASIO official who interrogates a frightened kid inappropriately, that lawyer gets kicked out and ASIO can supply a much more “appropriate” *cough* tame and biased towards ASIO *cough* lawyer instead.

These are legitimately terrifying advancements from ASIO to erode people’s rights away so they can increase their power over citizens – something they’ve been doing since 9/11 with the introduction of the controversial ‘terror laws’ that allow indefinite detention of terror suspects, among other undemocratic moves. ASIO is casually laying the groundwork for an authoritarian regime and I’m seeing jackshit being done about it.

Considering this is all also happening at a time where parliament is missing members due to social distancing and isolation, its worrying how little attention and scrutiny this bill will get.

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