Edmund Burke, who declared the tyranny of bad laws, was a deep political thinker and a ferocious polemicist. In 1777, he wrote to the Sheriffs of Bristol that the true danger to freedom was when liberty was nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.
We should wish that 1777 is now, and that Burke was writing to our prime minister. Perhaps then John Howard would be less reckless in his pursuit of additional security powers and more concerned about the damage his legislation will do to important traditions of free association, opinion and debate.
I declare, therefore, that I write the following with open, seditious intention.
The Federal Government proposes to amend the Crimes Act 1914 so as to be able to jail any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise, advocates or encourages the doing of any act having or purporting to have as an object the carrying out of a seditious intention.
Seditious intention means an intention to bring the sovereign into hatred or contempt; or to urge disaffection against the constitution; the government of the Commonwealth; either house of the Parliament; to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth; and to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.
"Under this constitution a High Court can rule that a man, charged with and guilty of no crime, can be locked up indefinitely. Under this constitution, rights are left to the mercy of predators such as Howard and expedient windbags like Beazley. The Australian constitution enables the government to spend without constraint to serve its own political interest. As such, it deserves the disaffection of decent, democratic people."
Just so it is clear, I urge all Australians to hold the sovereign and her heirs and successors with hatred and contempt. Lecherous, callow, adulterous; inbred, exclusive and foreign; they remind us that, by them, we are made no democratic people. Because they are appointed by bloodline, and because talent, accomplishment and merit enter not into the question of their position and the prominence accorded to them, they exist as proof that government can be degraded by the powerful in service of their own interests. As s