Thursday, August 06, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unimpressed by the security situation at Australia's military bases

Farcical security breach at Lavarack barracks

SECURITY at Queensland's largest army base is so lax that would-be terrorists could drive through the front gate under the guise of playing golf. The ease at which the Lavarack Barracks in Townsville can be entered comes as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday ordered an emergency review of security weaknesses at all of the nation's army bases. Concerns have been raised that Australian troops are at risk because facilities are protected by private unarmed security guards.

Five suspected terrorists, with alleged links to Somali group al-Shabaab, have been arrested in Victoria after police foiled an alleged plot to launch a Mumbai-style suicide attack on Sydney's Holsworthy Army Base. The accused men allegedly wanted to open fire on as many soldiers as possible.

In Queensland, holes in security allowed The Courier-Mail to infiltrate the Lavarack Barracks without a security pass and then take photographs of sensitive key installations, troops in training and soldiers' accommodation. Over 90 minutes, this newspaper was not challenged or questioned by civilian security guards. The Courier-Mail was waved through the main gatehouse under the ruse of going to playing a round of golf at Lavarack Golf club in the heart of the military complex. The base, an open military facility fronting a 4km stretch of a main highway, is protected only by a waist-high wire fence.

Townsville-based Liberal MP Peter Lindsay yesterday said the police swoop on Tuesday and the threat to army bases called for an immediate upgrade of security. "It is true you can jump the fence and walk on the base," he said.

Speaking in Cairns, Mr Rudd said he had been told that security on army bases was adequate but he had ordered Defence to "undertake an immediate and comprehensive review". "What I want to be confident of is that the security at each installation is right and that it's calibrated to our security needs," he said.

The Courier-Mail has found that an aerial view of Queensland's military bases is readily available online using the "Satellite" view in Google Maps. The more intrusive "Street View" is not available within the base itself.

Mal Wheat, from Queensland's Vietnam Veterans Federation, said: "We are deeply concerned at untrained, unskilled, unarmed guards manning primary entry points of significant military bases. "What we've got is an absolute wake up call – we need to beef up our security if we're going to be serious about combating terrorism," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the thinking of the previous government was to dedicate soldiers to more highly trained work and contract out jobs such as security to "put more teeth" on the frontline. "We moved in this country to having jobs in defence contracted out, including having security jobs contracted out, because the drive then was to put more teeth at the front, was the terminology used," Ms Gillard told Macquarie radio yesterday.

She said reports of lax personal identification and vehicle security checks at Holsworthy, including the case of one person who was granted access after producing an old library card, were "disturbing". "It's very good that the chief of our defence force Angus Houston is now going to review this matter," she said.


Australian police too afraid to get tough on criminals

They are NOT on the side of the public

We know what happened in Mumbai, and in Jakarta last month, can happen anywhere. Plots to blow up our sports stadiums, assassinate our prime minister and cause mayhem on a Mumbai scale have been uncovered in recent years. This week four men were arrested in Melbourne, accused of being part of a Somali Islamist plot to attack an Australian army base.

If anything, it highlights the importance of competent police and intelligence services. Yet, in an era when we are facing unprecedented threats, we have been steadily lowering our defences and nobbling the effectiveness of our police services.

After the latest terrorist raids, for instance, we heard from the Victorian Police chief, Simon Overland, who presides over a police force so incapable of protecting Indian students from being bashed that Melbourne crime has blown up into an international scandal. At a press conference about the raids, Overland was preoccupied with apologising to the Islamic community for having arrested Muslims, telling journalists: ‘‘Don’t blame the Muslim community.’’ As if they were. He declared the obvious – the accused men were entitled to the presumption of innocence – and attacked the media for reporting the raids.

Overland is the model of a modern Australian police commissioner, who has politically correct spin on the list of priorities, along with actual crime-fighting. No wonder, then, that the Victorian police are enthusiastic participants, with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, in the "Lexicon of Terrorism project" announced by the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, last month.

Based on a similar "linguistic realignment" in Britain, this is an Orwellian attempt to change attitudes by excluding from official language certain words such as "war" or "jihad" when talking about terrorism. Phrases such as ‘‘Islamic extremists’’ and ‘‘Muslim terrorists’’ are reportedly suspect. Unfortunately, even if we are no longer permitted to mention them by name, Islamic terrorists continue to kill innocent "infidels" and Muslims alike.

But this is Australian policing now. Faced with a threat from A, our authorities feel compelled to defend A from what they imagine the populace is thinking, and from any police officers who might mistakenly believe their role is to protect the populace from A.

A case in point is the NSW Police Service in the 15 years since the Wood Royal Commission began its work, as summarised in the former detective Tim Priest’s new book, Enemies of the State, to be launched today (and to which I have contributed the foreword). Priest forensically attacks the commission, which he says employed dubious practices to "utterly destroy the morale of police", throwing out good police with bad, and allowed the Carr government to ‘‘wrest control of the police service … It’s been a basket case ever since".

As a result, organised crime in NSW has flourished, and policing has become weak, cowardly and selective, Priest argues. He cites the "recent outbreak of outlaw motorcycle gang violence and the emerging threat of Middle Eastern criminals".

NSW police are "almost ‘impotent’, too frightened to take on organised crime lest there might be corruption again". Priest targets the commission’s preoccupation with so-called "noble cause corruption", which in the commission’s final report includes: "unofficial or unauthorised practices such as putting suspected street drug dealers onto a train and banning them from an area". For Priest, who once served in Australia’s heroin capital, Cabramatta, "That is just good old-fashioned policing."

His most explosive chapters deal with a Kings Cross heroin dealer, KX15, who was about to be charged by NSW Police Task Force Bax but who became a protected witness and was given a "green light" to sell drugs 18 hours a day. Priest reports that 23 days after he became a witness, the commission discovered people were "dropping in the streets" because of the purity and strength of the heroin KX15 was supplying; 14 people died. When the commission got wind of the "hot heroin", it issued a warning but it didn’t stop the operation. No police were ever charged.

When the commission ended, Task Force Bax restarted its investigation of Kings Cross drug dealing, but as it began to examine those heroin overdose deaths Bax was raided by Internal Affairs. Bax’s commander, Geoff Wegg, and his officers were arrested and their careers destroyed. One officer was convicted of corruption unrelated to Bax. Charges against the rest were thrown out, and 10 years later, Wegg and colleagues won an apology and a settlement reported to be $10 million. In the end, "the public of NSW lost 32 experienced and dedicated detectives with over 500 years experience and dedicated service. You cannot replace that, ever".

Priest’s book is full of such tales of good police officers destroyed because they were on the wrong side of history, when we decided policing was about placating and appeasing the bad guys.


Rivers hijacked by 'green fascists'

Greenies shafting blacks

THE misanthropic attitude of conservationists was revealed last week when a group of Aboriginal protesters from Cape York gatecrashed a Wilderness Society and green fundraiser in Sydney. Dressed in chains and in two giant koala suits, the Cape York Aborigines crashed the party to protest against Queensland's Wild Rivers legislation, which bans development within 2km of the Lockhart, Stewart and Archer rivers.

The protesters blame the Wilderness Society for instigating the legislation, which they argue denies them the ability to build businesses and enterprises on their traditional land, so that more of their people can move out of welfare into the real economy. Tania Major, the spokeswoman for the Cape York Aborigines, said they weren't against conservation but they were protesting because the Wilderness Society had not consulted with them or given them a choice on how to manage their land.

These arguments left the Wilderness Society members unmoved, with spokeswoman Anna Christie saying on ABC Radio that environmental sustainability should come before people.

Only those comfortably off are able to so quickly disregard the importance of economic development. They forget that the only reason they can afford to buy organic food is because they live in an industrialised society. Try living in the outback and getting an organic soy latte.

The fact that the greenies and the Aborigines have fallen out over this issue is a first. Historically, the green movement has tended to support what it thinks are Aboriginal "causes". Protesting against the intervention and the Howard government was a trendy pastime for many greenies. In fact, the Wilderness Society and Noel Pearson from Cape York were once allies. They, and other key stakeholders from the area, formed a partnership in 1996 (called the Cape York Heads of Agreement). This partnership aimed to achieve a balance between competing interests in the Cape York region. Not only were they committed to carrying out conservation protection, but one of the principles of the agreement was to set aside land for Aboriginal development.

Pearson admits that there was some "consultation" with Aboriginal people in the region, but that their concerns were not listened to, and that they in no way consented to a total ban on development alongside the rivers. In an interview on ABC TV's Lateline, Pearson pointed out the double standards of the Wild Rivers legislation. While Aboriginal development (such as small-scale horticulture) is banned beside the rivers, the new Chinalco bauxite mine is exempt from the whole Wild Rivers legislation.

Not only is this hypocritical of the Queensland government, but the decision to ban Aboriginal development also goes against a UN Convention for Biological Diversity, which Australia signed in 1992. The convention recognises that biological diversity is about more than just plants and animals: it is also about people. Two articles of the convention refer specifically to the protection of indigenous knowledge and use of resources.

Yet it appears that many greenies care more about the environment than people. American author Jonah Goldberg describes this phenomenon as "green fascism". He argues that modern environmentalists view humans as a disease and mankind as "inauthentic, corrupting, and unnatural". According to Goldberg, environmentalists cast themselves in the role of nurturing caregivers of the planet. The world has a "fever" and when your baby has a fever, you "take action". "You do whatever your doctor says. No time to debate, no room for argument."

Like all fanatics who believe that their way is the only right way of doing something, the Wilderness Society is convinced it has all the answers to environmental sustainability. Its members have forgotten the terms of the agreement which they originally had with the Cape York Aborigines, and ignore the fact that the rivers near Cape York are pristine because they've been part of Aboriginal reserves for nearly a hundred years.

In its haste to preserve the environment the green movement has sidelined human progress. Today, advocating for growth or new developments is seen as a social faux pas. So strong is their anti-human agenda that some environmentalists are opting for voluntary sterilisation to reduce their carbon footprint.

The green way of looking at sustainable development is typical of the affluent world that sees sustainability as being environmentally friendly: recycling, living in eco houses, and driving fuel-efficient cars. But for the poor and disadvantaged, sustainability is about having essential services such as housing, water, sewerage, and transport.

It is deeply hypocritical for the green movement to deny Aboriginal development on the premise that this will preserve the environment when they owe their own comfortable existence to Australia's developed economy.


Nasty war veteran's bureaucracy

Despite repeated court judgments in his favour, the mongrels are still trying to wear an old digger down

WORLD War II veteran Raymond Mitchell is dug in for a long hard fight in the tradition of many a proud and doughty Digger. But the frail 85-year-old's enemy is not the one he signed up to fight in 1942. It's the Australian veterans' affairs bureaucracy, which has refused to pay his war service pension backdated to when he applied in 1984, when he turned 60.

Most recently he's written to 76 federal senators, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Julie Gillard. Not many seem interested. "I've had 15 replies in five weeks from the senators and nothing from Mr Rudd or Ms Gillard," Mr Mitchell said yesterday from his modest home of 57 years in Brisbane's Yeronga. "I thought Mr Rudd might be interested given his party went to the election saying they would bring fairness and equity to Veterans' Affairs."

In his last major fight with the department in 2001, Mr Mitchell succeeded in having his 4½ years of war service – which included time in 1944 on Horn and Thursday Islands in the Torres Strait and on Cape York – recognised after the Administration Appeals Tribunal overturned a ruling by the Repatriation Commission that he should not be paid a service pension at all. He was assisted by a 1987 AAT decision he'd belatedly got wind of, in which another serviceman with a similar service history had been found to have "rendered qualifying service".

But Mr Mitchell was forced to fight on in the Federal Court, with only his son and full-time carer as his advocate, when the commission appealed against the AAT decision. The commission again lost but said it would take the case to the Full Federal Court. But after The Courier-Mail took an interest, it backed down in 2003 and Mr Mitchell was finally paid his pension.

But it was only backdated to June 2000, the date of Mr Mitchell's most recent application for the payment. In March a Brisbane solicitor, Patrick Mullins, acting without charge, put to the department that Mr Mitchell should at least receive backpay to 1993. But last month that was also rejected.

"It's the principle," said Mr Mitchell, whose father fought in World War I and whose two brothers also fought in World War II. Why was it, he asked, that people who were posted to fight for their country had to go to such extraordinary lengths to get a service pension once they were elderly?


No comments: