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The Australian Ministry of Utmost Fear

By Lyn Bender - posted Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Despite the ludicrously comic nature of this internment paranoia, it resulted in real heartbreak and suffering for those imprisoned and their families. It also robbed Australia of the participation of loyal citizens. Some imprisoned citizens had even fought for their nation in the first war.

It is no accident when governments use fear to manipulate their citizens.

It is no accident when Governments seek to increase their powers of surveillance and arrest to allegedly keep people safe.


The question arises. How safe are we from 'rulers' who have excessive power and control? In surrendering our rights do we become more endangered?

Barrister and Human Rights activist Julian Burnside believes the violation of human rights and repressive laws can be a greater danger than the things from which they purport to protect us. In his latest book Watching Out: Reflections on Justice and Injustice Burnside explores justice and injustice issues including the treatment of stolen generations and of imprisoned asylum seekers. Without a Bill of Rights Parliament can pass unjust laws, which the judiciary may be obliged to uphold.

Burnside maintains that the separation of powers is essential to ensure justice. There must be no political pressure on the judiciary.

There was a concerted effort to undermine the work of retiring Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.

She has accused the current government of being ideologically opposed to human rights.

There is evidence of this in the attacks on Triggs and the Human Rights Commission by Attorney General "people have a right to be bigots" George Brandis.


By indefinitely imprisoning asylum seekers in offshore detention, Australia has:

1. violated the Refugee Convention to which it is a signatory;

2. failed to protect and safeguard those imprisoned on Manus and Nauru;

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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