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Australian Government To Widen Spy Agency Powers, Again

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-know-what's-best-for-you dept.

Australia 105

An anonymous reader writes "It seems the Australian Government has a fondness for expanding the powers of the domestic spy agency, ASIO, be it for hacking into servers or tapping citizens' phones. Now the plan is to make it easier to engage in economic and industrial espionage, as well as on groups such as WikiLeaks."

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Doomsdayers put faith in Apocalypse now redux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36187788)

If you have seen the billboards while driving to work, then you will know tomorrow is Judgment Day - well, that's according to US evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping.

He predicts that on Saturday, May 21 an earthquake will strike, triggering the start of the apocalypse. Christians will disappear to safety, leaving sinners behind until the world comes to an end exactly five months later.

Re:Doomsdayers put faith in Apocalypse now redux (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187930)

Which raises an important question - is the revelation becoming, consciously or unconsciously, a self-fulfilling prophecy by the Christian-dominated leadership of America, Australia, and many other countries?

The self-destruction of the world's Christian superpowers is occuring at an increasing rate and becoming ever more violent and oppressive towards itself and others. The impatience in the wait for the rapture is rapidly manifesting itself as desperate violence which will ultimately result in a suicide, like that of Harris and Klebold or Futurama's Roberto.

Here's a quote from the novel Silence of the Lambs:

"Sammie is intensely religious. He's simply disappointed because Jesus is so late. May I tell Clarice why you're here, Sammie?" Sammie grabbed the lower part of his face and halted its movement. "Please?" Dr. Lecter said. "Eaaah," Sammie said between his fingers. "Sammie put his mother's head in the collection plate at the Highway Baptist Church in Trune. They were singing 'Give of Your Best to the Master' and it was the nicest thing he had.

Re:Doomsdayers put faith in Apocalypse now redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188020)

so.....troll much?

*moments later*

oh....never mind...its you...

Re:Doomsdayers put faith in Apocalypse now redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188590)

A world without Christians?

Yes, please!!

Re:Doomsdayers put faith in Apocalypse now redux (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192970)

And he obviously failed to take Apocalypse prediction 101 in the seminary. Never give specific dates for predictions, as it's way to easy to prove wrong when he time comes and goes.

All your base... (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187790)

Apparently "ni hao" means "G'day"

Re:All your base... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188250)

....is belonging to OZ

Do australian spies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36187798)

use unfoldable pocket machetes?

Re:Do australian spies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36187830)

use unfoldable pocket machetes?

Only the female ones, for obvious reasons.

Was going to post a long comment but... (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187856)

...the list of risks would be too long and fairly obvious about allowing an "agency almost unfettered discretion to determine when and how <any agency>'s powers may be used to gather information about people's activities".

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (3, Insightful)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187974)

But... Don't they already do this everywhere?

It's just that here there is a law saying that they can, but it is already done in almost every civilized country...

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188092)

I guess, to a degree, because spy agencies seem to see themselves as above the law.
But still think that most people in law enforcement do respect the laws that they're trying to enforce.

That difference in attitude is why spy agencies really should have clear limitations that should be enforced, somehow.

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188398)

Let's be honest these changes to the law are more likely to do with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Gap [wikipedia.org] and as a 'er' partnership, the uses and abuses the US put it to, also drag in the Australia government.

Perhaps the US is taking a step back from 'for profit' contractor intelligence which tends to fulfill the need of generating more profit for the contractor than having anything to do with the truth, to seeking aligned intelligence partnerships.

Of course there is also, how exactly do you word keeping a eye on foreign computer and software corporations owned by or with strong ties to their government. When say a foreign government seeks via it's connections with regional corporations to insert say 'Trojans' in hardware of software, to enable all sorts of nefarious activities and sometimes these activities can be derailed for private for profit purposes.

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188648)

But still think that most people in law enforcement do respect the laws that they're trying to enforce.

Bull shit they speed in their cars and drink drive (because they think they have better skills then everyone else) not to mention all of the people they beat up or kill (sure some might deserve it but majority don't).

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188858)

Says the AC troll. I bet you've had run-ins with the law, and I bet you did deserve it.

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36189370)

You see this is the exact problem (and the reason i posted AC). No one see's a problem cause its usually not them that are having there rights abused (middle aged man with money to defend himself (might change your story when its your son is getting beaten up (scratch that you'll never breed if you never leave you mothers basement) and any story that it did happen gets written off because they assume guilt on the persons side. How in the hell do i deserve a hypocritical police force that can't even uphold the laws they enforce?

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36190764)

*their

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190812)

You have endicted the entire law enforcement community with your overly broad accusations. If you want people to really see your side of things you should be a little more balanced when complaining about having your rights abused. No system is perfect and there will be those who abuse and manipulate the system but your complaints need more than ranting hyperbole, useless anecdotal evidence presented as facts, and weak moral equivilency arguments.

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36191598)

I know the whole law enforcement community aren't all as bad as the guy that rubbed my head into the road for speeding in an old falcon, but the rest of them are protecting these people by backing them up no matter what, and not breath testing them when they flash a badge. Where am i meant to get proper evidence from film them ... oh wait that's illegal; a fellow officer ... good luck (complaints from fellow officers stop after the first 18 months on the job). I guess I just have to wait till it gets so bad no one can ignore it.

Re:Was going to post a long comment but... (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196008)

Do you really think that when a "middle aged man with money to defend himself" and his "son is getting beaten up" that he enjoys wasting gobs of time and money in a defense or libel suit? If you're broad claim was legit, there'd be more "middle aged m[e]n" railing on the po'.

Yeah, there are a few bad cops. I maintain, though, that the greater problem lies in the anti-cop crowd. We'd have much less crime, much higher and more accurate solve rate if inner city culture was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Cops would err less on the side of hostility if the prevailing culture was less hostile against them. Think about it, if you're capable.

"... the guy that rubbed my head into the road for speeding" I wish you hadn't gone through that. I'm still highly dubious. By way of analogy. [dilbert.com]

Put another liberty on the barbie... (4, Insightful)

Mr Bubble (14652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187858)

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Police and intelligence agencies are tasked with a mission. Like ever other profession, they want to get better and better at what they do. They will always push for more weapons, more power and more of a role in our society. It seems like they won't be satisfied until we all live in glass houses - everyone, that is, except them. I am a fairly optimistic person about the future, but this is one of the issues I don't see a way out of because the only antidote is an engaged citizenry that peacefully, but persistently pushes back and that demands their rights. Unfortunately, the citizenry is half asleep on their couches watching cop shows.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187908)

Unfortunately, the citizenry is half asleep on their couches watching cop shows.

Having to pay mortgage at a 7.8% rate is tiresome.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188792)

And agreeing to pay most of your income to your bank for 20 years is stupid.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189940)

On the other hand, renting for 20 years gives you what at the end of it? I see open market renting similarly to setting your money on fire.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190322)

Somewhere to live for 20 years plus the difference between the mortgage payment amount for the value of the property and the rent amount times 20 years of interest accrued in your favour.

People taking loans over such long terms pay over 90% the value of the property in interest. i.e. even when they 'own' the house, they've paid twice it's market value after the bank has taken their slice.

If you have the discipline to save for what you buy, you can get a much, much better deal. Especially if you are willing to live 'below' your means (i.e. sharing your rent for a few years after you can afford a place of your own)

Any financial advisor worth their salt should tell you that the phrases popular in amateur advice like "rent money is dead money" and "would you rather pay for your own house or somebody else's" are sales lines used by people trying to make you give them your wage. If your financial advisor tells you these things, they likely either have no understanding of economics or are trying to get a slice of what you earn.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

rich_hudds (1360617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190534)

So I live somewhere small for 25 years saving my money, so when I'm 50 I can buy a family house and have some kids?

Genius.

You ever thought maybe all of those people getting mortgages aren't as stupid as you think they are?

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191316)

... or just move to a place with an extra bedroom when you start planning for your kids - it's not like you have to find a buyer. You don't need to own the new place either.

Whatever - if you think the difference between owning the building or just living in it is worth the price, pay it.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

rich_hudds (1360617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191478)

Depends where you live. In a lot of countries tenants have a lot of rights, but in England where I live you can be forced to move with about 6 months notice.

Your maths is wrong anway. On a mortgage I am likely to pay back about 165% of what I borrow. However my payments are not subject to inflation so effectively the costs come down every year. If you rent you get a small saving (not even true in the case of the UK) each month at the beginning but your rent carries on going up at the rate of inflation.

Any interest on the savings that you are suggesting by renting are likely to be similar to this hidden saving since mortgage rates are pretty competitive and savings rates are pretty poor. Once you factor in the fact that I own the house at the end it is a no brainer.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193176)

And mortgage payments can count as deduction on your income taxes whereas rent does not.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194586)

the interest portion can; as I understand it, the principal cannot. But I rent, so I could be mistaken.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191416)

Hmm, so if I can put $850 a month in to renting or $850 a month into paying a mortgage, you are saying putting the $850 into rent is better how? I'm giving my $850 away as opposed to getting something back for it (even if it is only $400 after the bank takes their share). How exactly does your understanding of economics work?

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191834)

That's pretty much my take too. I've also noticed that renting, especially on your own means you really can't save for the deposit for a house.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194630)

nah. He's saying 700/mo rent + 150/mo savings is better than 850/mo mortgage. Which I would extend to saying 700/mo rent + 250/mo savings is better than 850/mo mortgage + 100/mo property taxes + 50/mo repair bills that the landlord would handle for a renter - 50/mo for the tax deduction for mortgage interest.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36195086)

At that point you are really kind of comparing apples and oranges. If the housing market was such that it was more expensive for equivalent properties to buy than it was to rent after factoring in how much interest goes to the bank, then yes, renting would be better, but in my experience I've never found a situation where that is the case. Basically your total housing cost - whatever principal your paying towards the house needs to be higher than the cost of renting an identical property for renting to be a better deal. If you can find that, then yes, you would want to rent and save on your own until you could purchase outright (or until the above equation returns in your favor.)

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193102)

If you move around alot or don't like the risk of footing repair bills renting is just fine. However if you plan to be in one place for twenty years you might as well just buy the house. Either way a big chunk of your payment will be for someone putting a chunk of money into the structure 15-30 years before they could see a return on all of the money. When you rent you just pay the interest on that investment to the landlord rather than the back, and you have literally nothing to show for it. Either way you should spend sensibly, with the payment due not more than 1/50th or your annual post-tax income. If you can't pay the monthly mortgage or rent with a single week's paycheck you need to move to a cheaper place.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191650)

And agreeing to pay most of your income to your bank for 20 years is stupid.

As opposed to paying it to a landlord (who, given Australia's current state of property "investment" is just giving it to the bank anyway) ?

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36187910)

s/engagaed/enraged/ may be more effective

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (2, Insightful)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188106)

We already have far less rights than the Australian population knows. They generally tend to believe that they have the same rights as Americans. We have no Miranda (sp?). We have no right to our homes. Australia has no concept of an illegal search or seizure. Evidence cannot be excluded for these kinds of reasons.

The weakness of our constitution is part of the problem. The 'man in the street' (or man on the couch) wouldn't have to be so active if we had a half decent constitution. This doesn't mean that we can all sit on our collective backsides and do nothing. It means that there would be more opportunity for civil libertarians to challenge stupid laws.

Let's face it. Most of us don't really know much about politics and the law. And most of us don't have the will to fight these battles. The purpose of a constitution is to protect the rights of the folks who are less capable of protecting their own.

I'm certainly not promoting the American constitution. I think we could do way better than that one. Problem is that we're not trying to... and until these little issues become big enough to seriously threaten a government, change is unlikely to happen. The last time a referendum was passed in Australia was 1977, and the content was largely inconsequential to our rights.

A poster on /. recently brought to my attention that it was narcissistic to fear the loss of liberties. It made me think about that really hard - and after all is said and done, I'm inclined to agree. Excessive police/ASIO rights are unlikely to ever cause problems for me because I'm not a criminal. I'm not even close to being a criminal. This one is not going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Let it go.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (4, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188282)

We already have far less rights than the Australian population knows. They generally tend to believe that they have the same rights as Americans. We have no Miranda (sp?). We have no right to our homes. Australia has no concept of an illegal search or seizure. Evidence cannot be excluded for these kinds of reasons.

I would have hoped that you declared your self to not be a lawyer. I'm not a lawyer myself, but Australian legal rights aren't so far gone as all that. If the police are questioning you with the intent of using the information as evidence in court, they do warn you along the same lines as the Miranda rights. (in any case, Miranda was more about the fact of police having to inform about rights than the rights themselves.) You get two calls - one to family or a friend, and another to a lawyer. I don't know where you get the no-right-to-our-homes, and there's certainly a concept of illegal search, seizure and inadmissable illegally obtained evidence. Where do you get these stories from?

The weakness of our constitution is part of the problem. The 'man in the street' (or man on the couch) wouldn't have to be so active if we had a half decent constitution. This doesn't mean that we can all sit on our collective backsides and do nothing. It means that there would be more opportunity for civil libertarians to challenge stupid laws.

We might not have a Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution, but we have 800 years of common law to draw on, given the courts recognise British court decisions as being relevant to Australian laws. Many of the rights you cry poor over have been ruled on in past legal cases.

Let's face it. Most of us don't really know much about politics and the law. And most of us don't have the will to fight these battles. The purpose of a constitution is to protect the rights of the folks who are less capable of protecting their own.

The purpose of a constitution is to give a framework for laws to hang on; the fact that Americans have enshrined certain laws in their constitution above and beyond the simple amendment of a vote in parliament is admirable, but a fetishistic obsession with a constitution does not make for easily enshrined laws. No-one expects that the ordinary person on the street would be able to understand all the relevant laws - lawyers have jobs for a reason, and to argue that laws should be simple enough to be understood by everyone is disingenuous in this day and age.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188740)

No-one expects that the ordinary person on the street would be able to understand all the relevant laws - lawyers have jobs for a reason, and to argue that laws should be simple enough to be understood by everyone is disingenuous in this day and age.

How can you expect someone to follow the law if they don't understand the law?

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189004)

I'm not suggesting that people do not understand basic laws, or laws simplified and explained by experts, but the intricacies of law in the modern context is such that it's not readily available to the common person. That doesn't preclude lawful behaviour; did someone sit you down and explain all the laws in the country when you were 10 years old, at which point you started to be culpable for your actions? at 17, when you could potentially be tried as an adult? About the only circumstance in which that actually happens is road laws.

Case in point: do you understand the difference between battery & assault? Is there one? What constitutes aggravated assault, and what is the limits of self defence? what of the degrees of murder, or the difference between that and manslaughter? without being a lawyer, the best I (or, I suspect, you) can offer is the explanation distilled by the media that you've read somewhere. That doesn't mean you don't understand actions which are illegal without understanding the legal code that forms the basis for prosecution.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191062)

I'm not suggesting that people do not understand basic laws, or laws simplified and explained by experts, but the intricacies of law in the modern context is such that it's not readily available to the common person. That doesn't preclude lawful behaviour; did someone sit you down and explain all the laws in the country when you were 10 years old, at which point you started to be culpable for your actions? at 17, when you could potentially be tried as an adult? About the only circumstance in which that actually happens is road laws.

Case in point: do you understand the difference between battery & assault? Is there one? What constitutes aggravated assault, and what is the limits of self defence? what of the degrees of murder, or the difference between that and manslaughter? without being a lawyer, the best I (or, I suspect, you) can offer is the explanation distilled by the media that you've read somewhere. That doesn't mean you don't understand actions which are illegal without understanding the legal code that forms the basis for prosecution.

It appears you are contradicting yourself there. For example, if you don't understand what the limits of self defence are how then can you then understand if a potential action is legal or not?

How can you expect someone to follow the law if they don't understand the law?

You have made some interesting points but you really haven't answered the question.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190282)

We might not have a Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution, but we have 800 years of common law to draw on, given the courts recognise British court decisions as being relevant to Australian laws. Many of the rights you cry poor over have been ruled on in past legal cases.

The reason our Bill of Rights works fairly well is that it actually enshrined certain common law traditions into an immutable system that Congress cannot legally override--ever. We have a problem of judicial overreach in overriding Congress at times, but Congress has power to stop that which it simply won't use because most members of Congress are too lazy to do their full job.

The purpose of a constitution is to give a framework for laws to hang on; the fact that Americans have enshrined certain laws in their constitution above and beyond the simple amendment of a vote in parliament is admirable, but a fetishistic obsession with a constitution does not make for easily enshrined laws.

To the contrary, American government is increasingly finding itself getting its ass handed to it on certain civil liberties issues by the federal courts. For example, the federal courts are starting to apply the 2nd amendment via 14th amendment incorporation to municipalities, resulting in wholesale federal destruction of gun bans. You can call that a "breech of democracy," but then America was founded as a federal republic where the will of the people is by design supposed to be ignored when it violates constitutional measures until such time as the people either get their states to adopt an amendment or convene a new constitutional convention.

No-one expects that the ordinary person on the street would be able to understand all the relevant laws - lawyers have jobs for a reason, and to argue that laws should be simple enough to be understood by everyone is disingenuous in this day and age.

This is partly true, partly false. In the United States, the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights were written without subtlety precisely because they were intended to be understood by the common man. There is no hemming and hawing in the Bill of Rights about "reasonable this" or "except when public need demands..." It says, for example, you have a right to a speedy and public trial; you have a right to face your accuser. Period. These are rights which even a true mouth breather could understand if he wants to take the time, and many Americans have. If Australia's written constitution is such a piece of garbage that most people can't understand the general lay of the land with regard to their rights, then that's a real pity. At least the worst that we have to deal with from the courts is judicial shenanigans where they redefine what the meaning of "is, is" to get around something they don't like (but again, at least we have a clearly written constitution on which to make public arguments most people could understand).

And yes, most laws should be simple enough for the average person to understand. Most actions worthy of being called "crimes" don't require a level of intelligence beyond what the average person possesses. That is not to say that every aspect of the system should be made that simple or ever could be, but most laws should be simple enough to be popularly accessible. Having read chunks of the Virginia and federal criminal codes in the past, I can say from observation that it's not that difficult to write basic laws which are understandable by the public--should they choose to read them.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

Mjec (666932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190518)

I am not a lawyer, but I am just about to finish law school, so should be in the next eighteen months at the outside, in Australia no less. But you still shouldn't trust me ;).

If the police are questioning you with the intent of using the information as evidence in court, they do warn you along the same lines as the Miranda rights. (in any case, Miranda was more about the fact of police having to inform about rights than the rights themselves.) You get two calls - one to family or a friend, and another to a lawyer. I don't know where you get the no-right-to-our-homes, and there's certainly a concept of illegal search, seizure and inadmissable illegally obtained evidence.

All true. The problem is none of these rights are constitutional. Whereas the government can never take away these rights in the US, thanks to the 4th amendment, they can be removed in Australia. All that's needed is for Parliament to pass a law. As we know, when it comes to law-and-order stuff, that's stupidly easy. All that's protecting us from tyranny is the goodwill of our leaders. That's why we need to complain about reform like this.

We might not have a Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution, but we have 800 years of common law to draw on, given the courts recognise British court decisions as being relevant to Australian laws. Many of the rights you cry poor over have been ruled on in past legal cases.

Also true. But the rulings are always on the basis of interpreting legislation to be consistent with those rights where possible. We have supremacy of Parliament: if they pass a law changing the rules of evidence, the courts can't stop them. The big exception to this is political speech (and voting); these rights are guaranteed by the constitution. Limits on these can (and have been!) struck down by the courts: the Communist Party Case and just last year in Rowe v Electoral Commission. Search and seizure though are absolutely at the discretion of Parliament.

This supremacy of Parliament is why it's so important to be careful about who we elect, and to stop them from pulling shit like this.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36199000)

We might not have a Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution, but we have 800 years of common law to draw on, given the courts recognise British court decisions as being relevant to Australian laws. Many of the rights you cry poor over have been ruled on in past legal cases.

I am an Australian law student (not a lawyer), and you're missing something very important: precedence. Legislation is superior to common law, and the constitution to legislation. It doesn't matter if there's a long line of cases supporting a right that was affirmed by the High Court, if an act says that right goes out the window, it's gone. Additionally, English cases do not form binding precedent - it's a the judges' discretion as to whether we should adopt English law or diverge from it.

In Victoria (and a few other states) we have the Charter of Human Rights, and all it does is require parliament to say, "We are removing this right in this act". It can't do anything more than this because no act can limit other acts - the specific cases overrule the general ones. Other states don't even have this - they can lose rights implicitly depending on the wording of an act (or even a regulation empowered by an act, which doesn't even need approval from parliament). One example of this was the recent stop and search powers granted to the police.

It is because legislation arises from political battles that these rights can be lost on a whim, unless they are protected by the constitution. This is why it is so difficult to make changes to the constitution - because all other laws are inferior to and limited by it. I'm hoping that in the future we may get a Bill of Rights that would in fact be more in line with contemporary rights (e.g. privacy) than the US one, but I think it very unlikely at present.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188308)

Australia has no concept of an illegal search or seizure. Evidence cannot be excluded for these kinds of reasons.

PffffHAAAAAW! You know what "probable cause" is in America? It's wearing the wrong color tie or momentarily glancing to the downward left corner with your eyes while being questioned during a routing traffic stop. Cavity searches, drive-by infared scans of your house, and rubber-stamp subpoena-ing and monitoring of all your internet traffic will follow.

The purpose of a constitution is to protect the rights of the folks who are less capable of protecting their own.

Oh, those quaint things. Ignored outright or easily circumvented with judicial misinterpretations ("Hey, look what we can do!"). They're on a roll, with their fusion centers and readily willing proto-Gestapo HUMINT masquerading as first-responders. Nothing short of an armed rebellion will stop 'em, and it will be too late when the public-at-large finally realizes that.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

skegg (666571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189484)

Nothing short of an armed rebellion will stop 'em

How quaint. Unfortunately, we Australians don't have a "right to bear arms". In fact, since some fool went on a killing spree [wikipedia.org] back in the late 90's our ability to own firearms has been significantly curtailed.

The NSW Police [nsw.gov.au] website lists items that are prohibited in NSW, including:

  - flick knives
  - sling shots
  - blow guns / pipes
  - kung fu sticks
  - body armour

Now, IANAL, but I believe we can even be arrested for peeing with too much pressure. Better go empty my bladder now ...

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190528)

Slingshots? Are you fucking kidding me?

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188570)

We have a right to silence from English Common Law. We have no enshrined freedom of speech. We do have a concept of illegal search and seizure (ASIO and the AFP have been involved in a number of procedural gaffes).

Outside of legislation, we have common law. The problem with these common law 'rights' is that applying them is a matter of finding precedent. This relies on a diligent judiciary or it breeds inconsistency. With no overarching documents in some areas, there is no central point of reference and sometimes it's simply a matter of digging deeper or finding a decision from a superior court.

There is greater flexibility, but the obvious price is that there's greater flexibility. Some of our judges are frightfully stupid.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189690)

We already have far less rights than the Australian population knows. They generally tend to believe that they have the same rights as Americans. We have no Miranda (sp?). We have no right to our homes. Australia has no concept of an illegal search or seizure. Evidence cannot be excluded for these kinds of reasons.

Uh, we have no concept of an illegal search or seizure already. We have had rulings both that evidence found during an illegal search is admissible, and that the police may enter your domicile to conduct a search if they "have reason to believe" that you are hiding evidence. In other words, if they don't think you can afford a good lawyer.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190756)

The americans don't have a strong constitution (anymore) either so you're not alone.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192326)

Actually, we have an extremely strong constitution, just a government that trods on it.

Perhaps after all the baby boomers are dead, the rest of us can pick up the pieces.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188252)

I think you are wrong on the peaceful thing. Real change only takes places when the lives of those in power are directly threatened. THEN they listen. Australians are too kowtowed to rise up. They fear for their house prices, their "entitlements" and $1.50 per Litre petrol. 99% are sheep.

Re:Put another liberty on the barbie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36194258)

The only answer is to resolve the problem of the nails...

What?? (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187862)

TFA

They will widen ASIO's ability to work with and on behalf of the overseas agencies in collecting what is known as ''foreign intelligence''.

Collecting data about Australian citizen's on behalf of overseas agencies?

Re:What?? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187998)

It's going to happen anyway; why not play the middleman, make a profit, and get to keep records of what they know? It's a win-win for everyone but the, um, well, citizenry. But who cares about them, right?

Re:What?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188000)

For quite a while now, western countries' spy services have been spying on other western countries' citizens. The data is then traded so that each country's intelligence agency ends up with domestic intelligence data for their own country, while skirting "stop spying on your own citizens so much you assholes" regulations. I am not making this up.

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188458)

Yup. Look up ECHELON. That was its whole purpose, to let NATO members and other allies do spying for each other and swap the info to skirt domestic surveillance restrictions. In fact wasn't it Australia that first blabbed about ECHELON, confirming its existence? One of many times that the 'conspiracy theories' turned out to be true.

Re:What?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188038)

It isn't referring to other nation's agencies, rather Australian agencies that operate overseas. Namely ASIS and DSD.

Re:What?? (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188518)

Running an international intelligence agency is very expensive. You can get better intelligence for the same amount of money, if you share all your stuff with your allies, and they share their stuff with you.

Re:What?? (1)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188808)

Except that you can't trust what they tell you so you have to do the expensive side anyway.

Australian Intelligence (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188716)

- contradiction in terms

Re:What?? (1)

TBBle (72184) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189052)

TFA

They will widen ASIO's ability to work with and on behalf of the overseas agencies in collecting what is known as ''foreign intelligence''.

Collecting data about Australian citizen's on behalf of overseas agencies?

From earlier in TFA:

According to the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, the changes are being made to allow ASIO to work better with Australia's two overseas spy agencies, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Defence Signals Directorate.

So they mean "Australia's overseas spy agencies" not "spy agencies overseas from Australia". Specifically, they seem to be talking about giving the Attorney General more room in allowing domestic collection by ASIO of intelligence relating to foreign activities for use by and at the request of ASIS and DSD.

I haven't read TFBill though.

Please bend over... (4, Insightful)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187864)

You won't feel a thing!

I no longer feel empathy for enslaved populations. I sit here in the great U.S. of A. and see my fellow citizens taking this shit lying down and begging for more. Worse yet as I try to rally my fellow citizens to try to stop this they all look at me like I am crazy. And when I tell them stories when good ole gubmint oversteps they just look at me like I am stupid, even when I provide them with links from reputable sources. They just say... ah there is more to the story they are not telling you.

Australia can just go and suck it long and hard, but tell them to leave some room at the feet of their masters, my people with be joining them all too soon!

This might make your day (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189648)

Spain, as I type, is in the midst of a full scale citizens (peaceful) uprising [youtube.com] . Protests across the country, 10,000+ people just in one of the main squares, many sleeping there overnight only to have 10K+ more people there the next day (now going on two to three days like this) - all of this has eclipsed the polished marketing election campaigns of the two main political parties (PSOE and PP). The message is simple: Vote for who you like in elections this Sunday, but NOT for the two dominating parties - with chants like "they do not represent us" and "Real Democracy - NOW!". Unlike the US, Spain does have an electoral system that allows meaningful third party choice. This follows hot on the heels of a big (but almost unreported in international media) protest by Spanish journalists over the politicians election campaigns [www.rog.at] . In particular the press conference/rallies where they are not allowed to do their job and ask questions, or even have access to the political leaders - who rely on delivering a precise polished marketing campaign and do not want to deal with pesky citizen questions, debates and the like.

Manifesto: http://democraciarealya.es/?page_id=814 [democraciarealya.es] and Wikipedia entry [wikimedia.org] .

Lets hope that they have some success, and this kind of citizen involvement spreads to other "democracies" - it looks like there is a lot to learn from the Spanish.

Re:This might make your day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36193812)

it looks like there is a lot to learn from the Spanish.

Like the Franco dictatorship?

Have people see these documentaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36194600)

Widen like Goatse (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36187870)

In fact, hello.jpg is an apt metaphor for the gov'ts attitude towards the citizenry.

Same old story, potentially with ramifications (3, Insightful)

ausrob (864993) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188006)

Unforturnately this is nothing new for Australia, and will continue to be the case because Australians are generally quite apathetic when it comes to governance. Generally, it takes an astonishing act to garner much public outrage, which means Australia is a prime location for testing certain legislative prerogatives. The problem (amongst other things) is that it sometimes sets a very bad precedent, internationally. Once such powers are granted in one country, it is often used to justify the granting of similar powers in other countries. This can also apply to copyright, tax (e.g. GST in Australia influenced by the success of the Canadian sales tax model) and much more.

Re:Same old story, potentially with ramifications (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188152)

[quote]Australians are generally quite apathetic when it comes to governance[/quote] I disagree, that's why we had a hung Parliament, and a 3rd party holds a considerable amount of power now. We aren't as stuck in a 2 party system like America, if we don't like something actually important we tend to vote it out. Our longest serving prime minister got voted out of his own electorate because he was pushing unpopular legislation. there are regular protests but they just get ignored by our politicians, the only thing our politicians listen to is citizen votes, even when it goes against business. it's not all a political wasteland here. we just have a strong religiously fundamental 50+ voting force that like to think they need to keep everyone safe from themselves and are entitled to money.

Re:Same old story, potentially with ramifications (3, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188318)

You say the tax example as though Australia was amongst the early movers in applying a GST, or that sales taxes are rare enough elsewhere in the world. Hell, NZ had a GST before we did, and it had been proposed nearly 10 years prior by John Hewson. The GST replaced a series of different state sales taxes, harmonising tax arrangements around the country but shifting a huge chunk of power to Canberra through the payment redistribution system that causes such consternation at each COAG meeting.

Furthermore, copyright is bound mostly by international treaties; between the updates to the Bern treaty and our FTA with the US effectively importing the DMCA, our copyright law is no more "inspired" by others than our adherence to the Geneva convention.

Re:Same old story, potentially with ramifications (1)

ausrob (864993) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188378)

No, I meant that introduction of GST in Australia was heavily influenced by tax reform made in other countries such as Canada and New Zealand (a basis for a precedent perhaps). As for copyright, you are correct - treaties such as the ACTA are the main mechanism for changes, and through others, such as the free trade agreement signed between the US and Australia a few years ago. However, those provisions relating to copyright are a heavy subset of those contained within the DMCA - which is US domestic policy - and thus my point.

Re:Same old story, potentially with ramifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188876)

Yeah, Australia sucks. That's why we were the first to have a legally-mandated 8-hour workday. (1856), vote for women before the rest of the developed world apart from NZ (1907) (most of the developed world waited until after WWI).

Then we have things like the progressive mining tax, another world first - the tax isn't there if you're breaking even or running a loss, but after a little profit, we'll start to tax it - not a bad tactic given that mineral wealth is a once-off thing, so the country may as well benefit from it.

Things like the current push for paid maternity leave are far from the "quite apathetic" populace, but coming from just those people. Whether you agree with it or not, paid maternity leave isn't something that the politicians want to have.

Far from being the backwater that we're continuously painted as, we're pretty quick to adopt and/or develop new political ideas.

ASIO is THOR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188052)

The Austrialian Government PM needs a way to hide the Governments nefarious dealings (regarding hosting Osama bin Laden)!

In order to perserve the Government, Austrialia must at all cost, and at all lives of its citenzry divert the "bills" from the PM's "doings" to the ordinary citizens through their bank cards.

Ordinary citizens of Austrialia MUST STAND UP and BE SHOT in order to hide the PM. The life of the PM is worth more than the sum total of lives of Austrialin citizens.

God Save the PM, and God Kill the Citizens.

As an australian (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188074)

I'm not worried, As it will be used to spy on foreign corporations and people of interest, not domestic.

there is a risk of irritating the wrong country though. I'm sure Pakistan wouldn't like it if co-ordinates an attacks a nuclear facility somewhere in Pakistan "to ensure economic growth".

Attacking a website like wiki leaks though I'd definantly be against. removing foreign journalist websites because it "said something bad about us" is REALLY BAD form. Although I think that might have just speculation in the article.

you realize the NSA spies on you and feeds it (3, Informative)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188464)

to the Australian government? And vice versa?

What foreign security threats does Au. face? (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188370)

The last major terrorism incident in Australia was in 1978, and that one is generally attributed to Australia's own security forces. In 1986, somebody tried a bombing, and blew themselves up. There have been some foreign bombings in Indonesia that killed Australians. That's it. There is no significant terrorism problem.

As for external attack, Australia is an island, has a respectable army, navy and air force, and nobody has attacked since WWII.

What, exactly, justifies stringent security measures?

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

mijxyphoid (1872142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188428)

Two simple letters... N.Z.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189324)

Nah, Australia has a special Sheep Shearer's Batallion on standby at all times for just this eventuality.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188750)

I'd expect pre-empting any beliggerance from China would be a big motivator. Indonesia are also a growing nation that could become a risk.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188920)

A war with Indonesia would go something like this:

Indonesia: "Somehow we've managed to gather enough resources from fighting our internal conflicts and want to throw our military weight around. Hey, let's take on Australia in an utterly unprovoked war"

Australia: "Our military is based around hurting others more than they will gain because our population is small, but we need help fighting this one off. Hey, big brother?"

US: "Yep?"

Australia: "You know how you have that insanely strong navy?"

US: "Yep?"

Australia: "The one you couldn't really use in Iraq because they have a swampy coastline of only 60km and no real navy to speak of?"

US: "Yep?"

Australia: "The one you couldn't really use in Afghanistran because it's inland?"

US: "Yep?"

Australia: "Well... there's an nation with lots of islands that's attacking your old chums that have been beside you in everything"

US: "Yeah, well, we're not too fussed about you being attacked, tiny brother, but this giving legitimacy to the Navy is starting to sound interesting..."

Australia: "Did we mention it's a country of brown people waging a war of aggression against a country of white people that speak English?"

US: "Game on!"

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36190238)

Should have played the brown vs white card right away and saved the extra discussion.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188752)

there have already been a couple of groups caught planning attacks in Oz, or did you not read/hear the news?.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188864)

"As for external attack, Australia is an island, has a respectable army, navy and air force, and nobody has attacked since WWII. "

Define respectable. Australia currently spends more per capita on gambling than the military. There are personnel shortages and many cases of crappy hand me down equipment. It's there as a deterrence, not as any hope of actually defending the country.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188898)

The only thing Australia fears is the loss of the NSA pipe and "boondoggle" export deals for US mil hardware and software.
For that we will say anything, vote, spy on or back any war. We can listen deep into Asia and the Pacific but lack the cash for any real ongoing "Australia alone" crypto race.
Its win win, the US and UK get a location to spy from, we get to share. With that comes the stringent security measures and a deep Australian understanding of US private contractors lobbying in the US.
Australia knows to buy up big, play along and be the best friend.
ASIO feels it can grab new powers, gets to act internally and play on the international stage with less oversight, its back to the 1970's with an informant in every community group and media related workplace.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

mudgee (2181352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188914)

Obviously it is Australia's fervent commitment to ignoring our rights that have prevented rampant acts of terrorism for lo, these many years.

Besides, our native fauna is deterrent enough for any would-be foreign trouble makers.

In short, we have no rights, but our spiders, snakes, octopus and jellyfish kick arse!

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36189008)

We're directly south of the largest muslim country on the planet which contains a few terrorist sects who hate the west and who have already attacked Australians at Bali. Not only that we have had home grown terrorist plots already foiled such as those regarding an attack during an AFL game and a direct attack on an army barracks.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189342)

Well, they definitely need to keep the farming of shrimp protected, lest there be none to cook on the outdoor coal-based grill.

There's also the ongoing propaganda war in Europe and the US, pushing Castlemain XXXX and Fosters as exotic imported beverages from the other side of the planet, instead of the chilled "used water" it really is.

Mate.

Re:What foreign security threats does Au. face? (1)

skegg (666571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189528)

What, exactly, justifies stringent security measures?

Well to be fair, about 3 - 4 Australians die every year from terrorism.
Oops, scratch that: I meant 3 - 4 Australians die every year from peanut allergies [allergy.org.nz] .

Annual deaths due to terrorism: 0

( Yes, I remember the Bali bombings. How about we annualise those figures. )

al qaeda is poisoning our peanuts! (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192020)

can't you see the truth? wake up, Australia! wake up before it's too late!

question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188442)

What happens after the citizens lose their rights to protect themselves from their own government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Australia

steps to allow outsourcing? (1)

woot (70857) | more than 3 years ago | (#36188448)

i wonder if these legislative changes will mean the spooks will let outsourcers touch their gear. they'll now have the ability to look far more closley inside the large US corps.

Obligatory joke repost (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36188866)

The Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and the CIA were debating which of them was best at apprehending criminals.

President Obama decided to put them to the test. He released a white rabbit in a forest outside Washington and set each agency the task of trying to catch it.

The CIA went in and placed animal informants throughout the forest. It conducted extensive interrogation of plant and animal witnesses and after three months investigation, concluded the rabbit didn't exist.

The FBI went in. After two weeks with no leads it burned the forest killing everything in it (including the white rabbit). It offered no apologies and explained that the rabbit had it coming.

The LAPD boys went in. They came out two hours later with a badly beaten bear that was yelling, "Okay, Okay, I'm a rabbit."

Several years later, Julia Gillard heard about this trial and decided to put Australian law enforcement agencies to a similar test.

She released a white rabbit in the forest outside Canberra.

The Victorian police went in returning 15 minutes later with a koala, a kangaroo and a tree fern, all shot to pieces. They explained that "they all looked dangerous and we merely acted in self-defence."

The NSW police were next to take on the test. Surveillance tapes later revealed high-ranking officers and rabbits cavorting naked around a gum tree. "F*ck the royal commission!" was the only intelligent phrase picked up by the microphone.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption said it knew all about the rabbit and what it was up to, but declined to hand over the files.

The Queensland police trooped in noisily, emerging shortly afterwards with a new Mercedes, a load of bunny girls and a large amount of cash. They explained this was a gift from the rabbit who was really a top bloke.

The NCA (national crime authority) lads went in. They couldn't catch the rabbit but promised that if they were given a $90 million budget increase, they'd hit it for unpaid taxes.

The South Australian and Western Australian police joined forces and belted the life out of every rabbit in the forest except the white one. They explained it was only the black rabbits that caused trouble.

The Australian Federal Police refused to go into the forest, claiming it wasn't part of their core business. Having examined the cost and determined the target was of low priority to the organisation, they advised the relevant state authority should deal with the matter.

ASIO went to the wrong forest.

ha ha ha ha (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192042)

i guess it pays to be the white rabbit.

Spy Agency? Love the naming convention. (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36189548)

In Australia, there seems to be two competing opposite ways of naming things. Either you go for totally nonsensical names, like wombat and the like, or you pick a very boring descriptive name.

See a brown snake in a tree? Name it "Brown tree snake". A green frog in a stream? - "Green stream frog". Spy agency in Australia? - "Australian Spy Agency".

It was fun imagining Steve Irwin making the names of animals up as he went along. May he rest in peace.

Like new-zeeland copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192914)

Is this also backed by the US, like the copyright legislation in New-Zeeland? (-.

-- /me conspiring theories.

As per Govt (1)

jawahar (541989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36198978)

You are guilty till proven innocent.

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