We must face the threat within – AG

EXCLUSIVE: Guest columnist Attorney-General George Brandis gives the new-look Echo a drop!
'My fellow Australians, our country stands on the brink of a danger so perilous, so over-arching and all-encompassing, that I hardly know how to describe it.' – George Brandis

‘My fellow Australians, our country stands on the brink of a danger so perilous, so over-arching and all-encompassing, that I hardly know how to describe it.’ – George Brandis

My fellow Australians, our country stands on the brink of a danger so perilous, so over-arching and all-encompassing, that I hardly know how to describe it. Even the many thousands of books in the hand-built shelves lining my office walls cannot do justice to the ever-growing menace. These learned books on international affairs are by authorities such as Robert Ludlum, Len Deighton and John Le Carré, but they fail to scratch even the surface of the threat that lies before us.

That threat is us.

That is to say, within us – parts of us, elements of us, the unAustralian minority of us – there is a treacherous dissent that questions all that we do, that poisons the very body politic that maintains freedom and order. Trust me, while I sit here in this office our national security is at risk.

It is true that we have security services designed to keep us safe, but there is only so much they can do. In the face of the terrifying and ever-changing assaults on everything we hold dear we must resolutely make the sacrifices necessary to hold the foe at bay.

Much has been achieved but there is still much to do. National security requires that those suspected of ­terrorism should be detained without trial. These special operations by our internal forces must be given the honest cloak of secrecy they need, and there are long prison sentences for traitors who think otherwise.

It has wisely been said, and most recently by the assistant head of our Australian Federal Police, that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. Yes, I know that Muslim-loving chatterers in the ABC will tell you that this is a secret police slogan once used by Joseph Goebbels, but we should not be blinded by mere history.

‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’

‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ is the basis of the government’s legislation for the retention of metadata. Our intelligence officers, resourced by secret software provided to us by the USA, will constantly trawl through the metadata of fifteen million internet users for a rolling period of two years, checking the length, time and source of phone calls, the address of websites visited, the receipt and despatch of emails and other electronic messaging systems, the origin of downloads and the use of social media. Our citizens’ safety will be assured by unmasking the secrets of those who aren’t playing for Team ­Australia.

The threat to our national security is not a matter for discussion. Those who criticise our actions are effectively in league with those who would destroy our way of life. Human rights whingers say this system hasn’t worked in other countries, conveniently overlooking Russia, China and North Korea. They moan that it will enable the police to identify whistle blowers and inhibit investigative journalism, but like all left-wing leaners they exaggerate. The government has no interest in obstructing journalists, except of course when they interfere with operational matters in sensitive portfolios, which in these fraught times is all of them.

Another overblown criticism links the metadata scheme with our grand new trade agreement shortly to be announced. Australians, it argues, will be targeted by American corporations seeking to punish copyright infringements. Once again, although this is not the purpose of the legislation, which is to address the threat to our national security, the old adage holds true that those without crimes to hide should have no objection to holding their lives open for inspection.

If I may end on a personal note, I am often accused of being a racist, sexist bigot who feathers his own nest with public money and hasn’t got the intelligence even to define correctly the metadata he wants to collect. To those enemies of Australia I have just two words to say: national security!

Do not adjust your web browser – check your calendar. This article was taken from the April 1 edition of The Byron Shire Echo and should be read in that context.

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