Michael Burrill

About Michael Burrill

Michael Burrill is a 24-year-old writer and contrarian. His hobbies include cheap Australian lager and existential dread.

Current Affairs Wrap: Terror comes in many forms…

Terror seems the word-du-jour in this week’s Current Affairs Wrap by Michael Burrill, although it’s not necessarily connected to terrorism…

After some “fightin’ words” last week, Prime Minster Tony Abbott has backed away like a bully’s sidekick who just realised his protector isn’t as close by as he thought. Following effusive praise of the high school quarterback of the international community Barack Obama‘s leadership on the IS, he added “We’re obviously talking to our partners about what might be done but I stress, no specific request has yet been made and no decision has as yet been made by the government.” Not quite the “extreme force” you were talking about last week there, PM. Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, answered questions about the destruction of IS with, “I think that’s impossible…have we destroyed al-Qaeda?” So, like al-Qaeda, a vague indefinite threat that can be used to justify ever more draconian legislation then?

Anxious to put minds at ease, ASIO chief David Irvine has been talking about potentially raising Australia’s terror alert level as debate rolls on about proposed “anti-terror” and intelligence legislation (Ed’s note – this raising of the terror alert level happened after this piece was submitted). The Human Rights Commission told a parliamentary committee that the legislation “goes beyond what can be reasonably justified.” Some will say, as they always do, “If you’re not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about” (though others may say “thats oversimplified rubbish.”) But whatever the case, I’d say provisions for “Special Intelligence Operations” that grant agents legal immunity and make it illegal for journalists to report details of such operations are pretty worrying. It seems as though intelligence agencies think they should be able to tell their agents “even if you do something wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

The new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, has labelled Australia’s asylum seeker policy a “chain of human rights violations.” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison replied, “The most flagrant abuse of human rights I am aware of is the beheading and crucifying of people in Syria and Iraq, where Australia is seeking to relieve the humanitarian crisis.” While it may seem like he changed the subject, personally I’d just like to thank Morrison for reminding me of those dastardly terrorists that could kill me at any second – I had slipped dangerously from calmly alert to relaxed. Ex-Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has denied his office told a departmental director “select the children that looked the youngest” to send to Manus Island as an example. Bowen went on to justify his support of offshore detention by claiming intelligence agencies told him that, “blanket exemptions to offshore detention would provide a very significant incentive for people smugglers to bring that class of person.” In case you didn’t realise the class of person he’s talking about is “terrorists.” Anyone that had forgotten, maybe send a nice thank letter into Bowen’s office? Stay calmly alert, people.

In another win for the war on terror, a Human Rights Watch report has found that African Union soldiers funded by the West to fight al-Shabab in Somalia (which, surprise surprise has a US-backed dictator in its recent history) have been raping and taking advantage of local women and girls. Some may point out the continued irony in the mountains of terror caused by a supposed war against it, but I’m sure those Somali women felt so much more free being brutalised by the forces of “liberal pluralist democracy,” as our PM would put it, rather than by those terribly terrifying terrorists…

Also in Africa, the Ebola crisis continues. For those unaware, Ebola isn’t a new jihadist group but rather a nasty virus that can lead to a painfully excruciating death. Liberian (Liberia being the country with the largest number of deaths) Defence Minister Brownie Samukai told the UN Security Council, “Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence.” It all sounds – dare I say it – terrifying, yet Australian politicians remain oddly silent…no war on Ebola guys?


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