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Friday, 13 April 2007

Nick Bryant (pictured, looking very 'commited') is the BBC's South Asia correspondent and is based in New Delhi, India. He holds a B.A. from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Oxford University. Now, he's on to a story that has global resonance.

The Australian didn't pick up on it.

But The Sydney Morning Herald did, providing details deemed unimportant to Bryant, who is writing for a global audience. The SMH's report includes the name of the federal attourney general, Philip Ruddock, and the recently-appointed New South Wales attourney general, John Hatzistergos. Evidently, British readers don't care who made the assertions, just that they had been made.

According to the BBC:

Books and films deemed to glorify terrorism will be removed from shelves and barred from entering the country.

Provokingly, the BBC decided to add a photo of a man in one of those anti-contamination suits used when handling the sort of nasties that are delivered in envelopes.

The photo is totally irrelevant and irresponsbile. The story is about censorship, NOT chemical agents. The BBC should be ashamed for using it.

The SMH provides more details (and they are crucially important to our understanding of the issue):

BOOKS and DVDs that are regarded as supporting terrorism are at the centre of a dispute between the Federal Government and the states.

The federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, will today announce plans for tighter restrictions on materials that advocate terrorist acts.

But the states, led by NSW and Victoria, are understood to be troubled by some of Mr Ruddock's proposals and may not agree to the changes. There is concern that any change to the laws could impinge on normal political discussion.

In response, Mr Ruddock has indicated he may move to change classification laws, even though he would rely on state police forces to enforce them.

Such details as the rights of Australian states obviously are unimportant in the context of a global audience. But states' rights are very important to Australians. The states pre-date the commonwealth.

The new NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said he would wait to see what Mr Ruddock was proposing before passing judgement.

"The matter hasn't been discussed with us in any sort of detail, so I don't know why he's taking this avenue," he said.

What a surprise!

Competition between the Labor states and the Liberal (conservative) commonwealth is a permanent fixture of contemporary Australian politics. Police are an arm of the states.

The key sentence here is: "There is concern that any change to the laws could impinge on normal political discussion." In Bryant's coverage: "As the Australian Society of Authors put it: "We can't refute what we can't read"."

Freedom of speech raises its ugly head to trouble the federal attourney general, whose knee-jerk reaction is to indicate that "he may move to change classification laws".

Nasty.

The results of the 2006 Victorian election are available. As for NSW, The Daily telegraph shall be our vehicle of record.

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alex said...
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alex said...
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