Terrorism Threats: ASIO Director-General David Irvine Addresses National Press Club

The Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, has addressed the National Press Club on the threats posed by espionage and terrorism.


Irvine maintained that the threats to Australia are real, but manageable with vigilance and updated intelligence capabilities. He defended the need for a security service, “governed by law with appropriate safeguards”, and argued against any revamping of the existing regime of checks and balances on ASIO. [Read more…]

Condolence Motions Make For Heartfelt Start To Parliament

Proceedings in the House of Representatives got off to a prickly start today with the government goading the ALP during condolence motions for Arthur Gietzelt and Ariel Sharon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the tone when he moved a motion of condolence for the former Senator Gietzelt who died on January 5 at the age of 93.


During his speech, Abbott said: “He was a lion of the Labor Party—or at least he always asserted that he was a lion of the Labor Party and of no other party.” The Labor benches bristled at the comment and as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose to speak a voice could be heard describing Abbott as a “low dog”.

Abbott’s comment was a reference to allegations in documents released by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIO) that claimed Gietzelt had communist connections during his time as a member of the ALP. Gietzelt served as a minister in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1987.

Following the Gietzelt condolence, Abbott moved a second condolence motion for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who died on January 11 after spending eight years in a permanent vegetative state following a stroke in 2006. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to the motion, as did Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek.

After the speeches, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, associated himself with what he called “the genuine and heartfelt remarks” by Abbott, Bishop and Shorten, “and the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition benches bristled again, with the comment assumed to refer to a statement made by Tanya Plibersek in the House on September 17, 2002, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. She said: “…I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders. The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies. It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.” [Read more…]

Arthur Gietzelt, Labor Senator And Hawke Minister, Dies, 93

Arthur Gietzelt, an ALP senator and minister in the Hawke government, has died. The former longtime leader of the NSW ALP Left faction was 93.

GietzeltGietzelt was elected to the Senate from New South Wales in 1970, at the last stand-alone half-Senate election. Upon the election of the Hawke government, he became the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, an outer ministry position he held for two terms until the 1987 election.

Gietzelt resigned from the Senate in February 1989. At the time of his retirement, he was joint Father of the Senate, the longest-serving member of that chamber, a position he shared with Liberal Senator Peter Durack. In 1992, he was awarded an Order of Australia in the Officer category.

Prior to entering parliament, Gietzelt served for 15 years on the Sutherland Shire Council. He was Shire President or mayor for 9 years.

Gietzelt was a prominent and influential leader of the NSW ALP’s Left faction, from the 1960s until the 1980s. He was a member of the faction’s Steering Committee and was regarded on all sides as a fierce factional warrior. [Read more…]

Howard Pays Tribute To ASIO And Federal Police For Terror Arrests

John Howard has paid tribute to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police for their role in the overnight arrests in Sydney and Melbourne of men suspected of planning a “catastrophic” terrorist attack.

Adopting a subdued tone, the Prime Minister did not openly capitalise on his apparent vindication over last week’s announcement of an impending terrorist threat.

Transcript of the press conference given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at Parliament House, Canberra.


Ladies and gentlemen thank you for coming along. I’ve just called this short news conference to make some comment on the events that have occurred overnight in both Sydney and Melbourne. You will be aware of what has occurred and I do not intend to comment on the operational details. Those are best left to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner who will be making comment later today and also his two counterparts in New South Wales and Victoria. I point out that amongst the people apprehended a number have been charged with a variety of offences, including acts preparatory to a terrorist act. [Read more…]

Howard Rushes Amendment To Counter Terrorism Legislation

Indefinite Article Wins The Day

‘The’ becomes ‘a’ in an urgent amendment the Federal Government is rushing through Parliament today. The rush to substitute the indefinite article for the definite article has been justified by claims of a ‘potential terrorist threat.’

Addressing a press conference late this morning, the Prime Minister, John Howard said: “The reason for this amendment is that the Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat.”

Howard said: “All the detail of this information has been provided by me and the Attorney General to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security. The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this amendment would strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat. We are acting of course, against the background of the assessment of intelligence agencies reported in the annual ASIO report.”

The Labor Opposition has announced that it will support the amendment. [Read more…]

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002

This is the text of an Explanatory Memorandum issued by the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, explaining the purposes of the anti-terrorism legislation.

Explanatory Memorandum from the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002 amends the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act) to enhance the capacity of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to combat terrorism. [Read more…]

Democrats: You Do Not Have The Right To Remain Silent

The Australian Democrats today launched a major campaign against the Government’s anti-terrorism legislation, which is set to be debated during the budget sitting in May.

“This legislation is an attack on the basic rights and freedoms of Australian citizens,” said Australian Democrats’ Leader, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

“The ALP must join with the Democrats in opposing these bills to ensure they are blocked in the Senate.” [Read more…]