30 June 2006

Bus fares up, services to be cut

Tomorrow public transport fares in Adelaide are set to rise by about 10%, whereas today The Advertiser and the ABC report that significant cutbacks to services are being planned (the draft is "97% complete" according to a spokesman for the company which runs most of the buses) .

According to the ABC report

Executive director of the [Transport] department's Public Transport Division Heather Webster says the plan will not cut services or save money.She says some people may have to catch their bus at a different time or from a different place.

Different time, different place but no cuts or savings? Something doesn't quite ring true here.

US Supreme Court Justices "broadly reject Bush plan to try detainees"

So The New York Times headline describes the US Supreme Court's 5- 3 majority decision in Hamdan v Rumsfeld. The full decision is available from the US Supreme Court website.

Other reports currently available online include The New York Post and the BBC, and, from the Australian media, The Australian, The Age and the ABC.

The NY Times comments

The ruling marked the most significant setback yet for the administration's broad expansions of presidential power.
The majority opinion by Justice Stevens and a concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy, who also signed most of Justice Stevens's opinion, indicated that finding a legislative solution would not necessarily be easy. In an important part of the ruling, the court held that a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article 3 applies to the Guantánamo detainees and is enforceable in federal court for their protection.
The provision requires humane treatment of captured combatants and prohibits trials except by "a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."

The opinion made it clear that while this provision does not necessarily require the full range of protections of a civilian court or a military court-martial, it does require observance of protections for defendants that are missing from the rules the administration has issued for military commissions. The flaws the court cited were the failure to guarantee the defendant the right to attend the trial and the prosecution's ability under the rules to introduce hearsay evidence, unsworn testimony, and evidence obtained through coercion.

Justice Stevens said the historical origin of military commissions was in their use as a "tribunal of necessity" under wartime conditions. "Exigency lent the commission its legitimacy," he said, "but did not further justify the wholesale jettisoning of procedural protections."

Not surprisingly reactions to the decision have been varied, though the US government seems to be putting the best spin possible on it , as a later BBC report "Bush refuses to abandon tribunals" suggests.

Update 1 July

The Washington Post coverage of the story is also worth a look, not least because it has a link to President Bush's media conference (with Japanese PM and Elvis tragic Koizumi) which shows the President, even making allowances for his receiving only a "drive by briefing" beforehand, looking less than assured in his handling of questions. The transcript of the entire conference, including the President's gaffe where he says "I reminded the American people, Mr. Prime Minister, over the past months that it was not always a given that the United States and America (sic) would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war -- 60 years ago we were at war." is here.

Closer to home, The Australian reports "President and PM bow to the real King" without mentioning the difficult questions, though elsewhere its
Washington correspondent reports "Bush will push new laws on detainees". The paper's least obsequious verbal comment comes from Matt Price who refers to "the Prime Minister's timorous, mean-spirited response to the farcical treatment being meted out to Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks". Well put, Matt, I wasn't far off writing you off as an apologist for the PM (as well as the Dockers).

Elsewhere, ABC TV's Lateline last night ran items including comments from Mr Howard and this interview with Major Michael Mori. Today Marian Wilkinson in the SMH and Michelle Grattan in The Age have published thoughtful, well reasoned pieces.

28 June 2006

Australians supporting soccer, but which team(s)?

This is the house three doors from me. The residents apparently have agreed to differ by painting the verandah posts in the colours of the teams they support: Australia , Italy and Argentina.

My next door neighbour fixed an Italian flag to his house and was unable to find an Australian flag to accompany it, despite using his best endeavours to do so (he asked me and doorknocked other neighbours).

Today's Australian has several interesting pieces on soccer: one by Nicole Jeffrey, another by Ray Gatt, and a grab-bag of miscellaneous items headed PM to Viduka:'We know how you feel', whose final paragraph ironically juxtaposes a number of responses:

Premiers Morris Iemma and Steve Bracks vied to host parades, but Hiddink and several players will not be there. "I won't go back for a parade just for making it to the second round," said Hiddink, who is already planning his next job as coach of Russia, while the gypsies of Australian sport refocus on their multi-million-dollar European careers.

27 June 2006

BBC and most influential Australian on blogging

"Down with blogs...so here's another", says the BBC website , reflecting the ambivalence many people feel about blogs, as it launches its blog "The Editors":

If you believe the hype, blogs are as significant as the invention of the printing press for their ability to change the way the world will be seen. If on the other hand you believe the counter-hype, blogs are a self-indulgence which pander to dull people's misguided beliefs that they have something interesting to say.

Journalists have their own takes on blogs - broadcaster Mark Lawson, for one, says that "although the word blog suggests attitude and subversion, it's really just a hi-tech kind of diary and carries the identical risk of Pooterism".

Some believe that only journalists should really be allowed to write endlessly about themselves. Others believe blogs soar to beautiful new interactive heights. A third group don't understand blogs, but are terrified of being left behind.

Happily there is yet another group, including the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson, who don't think blogs will necessarily change the world, but do believe they offer a fresh way of turning the traditional roles of writer and reader into those of people having a conversation.

Blogs can be many things - trouble-making, independent, cool, nerdy, peppered with annoying links, even full of kittens who look like Hitler. They can also be abused for attention-seeking headlines (eg "Down with Blogs"). But one thing they have in common is that they work best when they go both ways - when they are a true exchange.

That's why the editors across BBC News have got together to start their own blog. Called "The Editors", it launches on Monday. The hope is that it will become a discussion forum for all sorts of issues and dilemmas surrounding our news programmes.

Each day, The Editors will include a round-up of where the BBC has been in the news, what members of the audience have told us in the previous 24 hours, our responses to that feedback, and the resulting discussion.

It's not an easy process, but there's a lot to gain - because of the unique way the BBC is funded, we want to be the most open and accountable news organisation in the world.

Today's Australian runs a story "Murdoch tells PM: ditch media reforms" which reports advice which the recently anointed (by The Bulletin) "Most Influential Australian" gives his views on a range of topics. Among other things he mentions blogging: "There are millions and millions of new writers on the internet, mainly writing rubbish, but a lot are writing words of wisdom. As you find your way around it, it is a magnificent thing to see."

No mention here of making News Ltd "the most open and accountable news organisation in the world." Is this one of Mr Murdoch's primary ambitions, or is it subordinate to his desire to profit as much as he can from the phenomenon?

PS Another one for the sceptics: blogs are "the friend of information but the enemy of thought". See here.

25 June 2006

2,000 state charges increase

Today's Sunday Mail reports that almost 2,000 South Australian state charges are set to increase this week. It claims that the Rann government
"denies the large number of charges are being slipped through by stealth, saying they were published in the Government Gazette on June 15." How many people read the Government Gazette?

The full list of increases, compiled by the Sunday Mail with assistance from the Liberal Party, is available by clicking on the link towards the end of the article. The paper reports

According to Opposition figures, some of the steepest hikes include:

REGISTERING a business name – up 234 per cent or $300 to $428.

MOTOR bike training for a learners permit – up 222 per cent, or $200, to $290.

REGISTRATION of one or more pilchard nets – up 24 per cent, or $713, to $3669.

EXAMINATION of a vehicle by an inspector to determine if it has been stolen – up 110 per cent, or $121, to $231.

LICENCE as a security agent or investigation agent – up 63 per cent, or $84, to $218.

Many of the increases are in areas which are the responsibility of Transport Minister Patrick Conlon, who has promised to travel to work by public transport to test claims that the local system is on the verge of collapse, even though he's already formed his opinion about it:

"We will make sure that we are using the current resources properly before we spend extra taxpayers' funds. There are some routes for example that are dramatically under-utilised - and we will have no hesitation in cutting those routes."

There are many inconsistencies (why is the fine for running a red light $128 more than for driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 - 0.08?) and some absurdities, including new public transport "confessional" fares. Is Mr Conlon now mixing his politics and religion?

US doctors trying to do things better: can locals learn from them?

The New York Times has an interesting article about some US doctors who are trying to adapt their practices to the current world.

The adaptations include
  • greater use of the internet for scheduling appointments and, in some instances, for online consultations; and
  • greater use of nurses to carry out tests such as blood pressure.
I am on the whole very satisfied with the standard of service I receive from the doctors I've consulted in the last few years, both GP and specialist, though I think consideration should be given to introducing more of these changes in Australia, and also
  • giving advance notice of what a particular consultation will cost and how it relates to Medicare scheduled fees;
  • extending the period for which a GP's referral to a specialist operates from one year to, say, five;
  • more transparency from anaesthestists about their qualifications, experience, daily work levels and fees.

24 June 2006


First of all congratulations to the Socceroos for their achievements to date.

I wasn't going to post anything about Australia's draw with Croatia and consequent progression to the next round of the World Cup but as I watched most of the game on TV and have followed some of the reaction to it in the media (local and international) and blogosphere (mainly local) I've decided to add a few observations of my own to the mountains of comments.

The World Cup confirms to people such as me, who have only a passing interest in the game and an imperfect understanding of its rules, that soccer (aka football) is a genuinely world game, even though the two countries with most people didn't make the final 32 and the USA has now been eliminated.

As to the reasons for its appeal I'm baffled. It is so difficult to score goals that sometimes, perhaps often, an injustice is done: especially when a result is determined by a penalty shoot out.

The English are so worried about this that some of their mathematicians have devised a formula to optimise their chances of success with penalties. It is
(((X + Y + S) / 2) x ((T + I + 2B) / 4)) + (V/2) -1, where V = velocity of ball once struck, T = time between placing ball on spot and striking the ball, S = number of steps in run-up to strike, I = time that the ball is struck after goalkeeper initiates his dive, Y = vertical placement of ball from ground, X = horizontal placement of ball from centre and B = striking position of boot. For more about it see here.

Australia's performance

Almost everyone is praising Guus Hiddink's work as coach. This seems to have be borne out by the team's results to date, yet his selection of Kalac over Schwartzer as goalkeeper against Croatia surprised even me (and most of the rest of the world except it seems for a well known Australian novelist ). It turned out to be a gaffe of the first order, primarily but not only because of that simple fumble which allowed Croatia back into the game. Apart from that his selections, tactics and substitutions seem to have been appropriate for the state of the game but I hope that he's able to keep a level head for the next game (and beyond...?).


Much has been said and written about the central referee's inability to count to two: for examples see
The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Age and the BBC .

In referee Poll's defence of his handling of the yellow/red card situation it should be asked why the other three referees didn't communicate with him. (What is the role of the fourth man? It might also be asked why the offender, who initially appeared to be heading off the field, didn't complete his journey; or is this standard of "sporting" behaviour no longer expected?

It doesn't matter now, but I still haven't been able to work out why the last Australian goal was disallowed. If the central referee is responsible for keeping the time by his watch (surely an anachronism these days) any determination of the finishing time of the game will be at best a rough estimate.

In other matches the standard of refereeing has also been criticised, which makes you wonder what quality control methods FIFA has in place.

Perhaps Referee Poll should be given a few games in lower leagues to see if he can recover his form. Although it hasn't been widely publicised, this seems to have happened to NZ cricket umpire Billy Bowden, who has not been given any
test match umpiring assignments since his performances were widely criticised several months ago.

To make the central referee's lot easier I suggest adopting some systems from other sports eg
  • Timekeeping done by an off field official and signalled (as in AFL) with a siren.
  • Video replays used to determine doubtful goals (and perhaps other events).
  • All match officials to be proficient in one common language (perhaps players should also have a rudimentary understanding of it too).

SBS and ABC media coverage

IMO Simon Hill's commentaries on SBS have been, as
The Age put it "fair,[and] sharp", even though he was (like everyone else) a tad confused about the end of yesterday's game. I think it's overstating the case for the article to be headed "Wasteful SBS scores own goal on Socceroos' biggest night". I tuned in to watch the game, not listen to the backup comments people , so it didn't matter to me whether they were in Germany, Sydney or Woop Woop.

The ABC's coverage has been far thinner, despite sending Peter Wilkins to Germany for the occasion. He apparently only reports for the TV news, briefly and, it looks, from outside the grounds. Much of the background detail on radio seems to be provided by Rafael Epstein, the ABC European correspondent and Dan Hirst, with comments from Craig Foster, the Australian based SBS analyst.

21 June 2006

Academics and the internet

In today's Australian Higher Education Supplement Andrew Leigh advises academics "Don't miss out on the world library":

Seventeen years on, the internet offers unprecedented opportunities for academics to engage with the world. With websites being used to post working papers and finished articles, and blogs to engage in discussions with the broader public, the internet may potentially represent the biggest change in the way academics convey ideas since the invention of the printing press.

He is well aware of the challenges these trends pose to some cornerstones of academia, including libraries and traditional research methods:

libraries could be going the way of their card catalogues. For those raised on the virtues of careful scholarly research, the declining patronage of libraries may seem a disturbing development.

His comments on academic blogging are also pertinent:

Academic blogging presents a difficult trade-off. On the upside, it provides a chance to engage with colleagues and non-specialists. A decent blog will have hundreds of readers each day; some have thousands. No Australian blog matches the readership of the nation's largest newspapers, but plenty have more readers than the average academic journal

I'm not an academic but am interested in reading what Leigh and others, such as John Quiggin, who write for a wide readership, have to say, and not least their willingness to engage in dialogue with their readers.

Whether libraries as we know them are on the path to extinction, I'm not so sure: even the article title suggests that Leigh sees reinvention rather than closure is a more likely future for them.

The author's cut of the article, which restores some passages excised by a sub-editor, is available at Andrew Leigh's website. That the correction is available online within hours of the print version appearing is further evidence in support of his argument. I wonder whether, and if so when, The Australian will publish a correction.

PS. Also in today's Higher Ed section is a piece by Bernard Lane which touches upon some of the same issues as Leigh's article. My attention was drawn to it because it was printed on the same page (p39) as Leigh's. Would I have found it, I wonder, it if it was only available online? On the online index it is not next to Leigh's article. Perhaps there is still something to be said for print sub-editors' eye for layout?

20 June 2006

US view of Gitmo

I recommend this , including the internal links.

19 June 2006

Recent appointments #1: ABC Board

I have hitherto refrained from adding anything to the many comments which have been made about the recent appointments to the ABC Board. Today's Australian prints articles by P P McGuiness and Glenn Milne, each of whom points out (1) that appointing party political supporters to the ABC is a longstanding, if not generally acknowledged, practice of both major parties, and (2) that stacking the Board in this manner is unlikely to produce major changes in the ABC.

PPMcG writes in a style which might have attracted criticism from those, including some of his fellow contributors to The Australian, who are sticklers for correct expression:

The weeping and gnashing of teeth at the ABC, in the Fairfax media and among the ABC's cheer squad about the appointment of Keith Windschuttle to the ABC board is the usual knee-jerk reaction to any shift in the balance of power in that organisation that might seem to threaten the hegemony of its view of the world

But eventually he does acknowledge that the ABC Board can't do much to change the situation

...the reality is, members of the ABC board have few actual powers other than the appointment of the managing director. That has already been done and will not arise again in the near future. And despite the presence on the board of a number of government appointees, two of whom in particular - Ron Brunton and Janet Albrechtsen (respectively an independent-minded anthropologist, a strong critic of the notion of a stolen generation; and a lawyer turned provocative columnist) - have received similar treatment to Windschuttle, the new managing director can be trusted to do nothing daring or original. The old gang is safe.

PPMcG doesn't proceed to discuss whether, given their limited powers, the Board members are worth their remuneration, which seems to be of the order of $40,000 pa: see here at p 168 for 2004 -2005 payments. Perhaps he will only be satisfied when the Quadrant and ABC Boards are merged. I'm sure that his ethical sense wouldn't allow him to argue that the editorship of Quadrant and position of managing director of the ABC should be combined.

In the blogosphere Club Troppo has (have?) weighed in with its (their?) own perspective, which has attracted many comments, including some which talk about the unwisdom of the former Federal ALP government's appointment of Mr Bannon, sometime Premier of SA who left office, to put it mildly, with many unanswered questions about his competence as a financial manager.

One consequence of the scrutiny of Mr Windschuttle's appointment is that the other fresh face on the ABC board, Mr Peter Hurley, has not attracted the scrutiny someone of his standing warrants. The ABC website describes him as "a businessman in the hotels [sic] industry". His major holdings include the Arkaba hotel, situated in the inner eastern suburbs adjacent to the Glenside campus of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (Rannspeak for mental hospital), and several other hostelries.

In the UK last century when several prominent liquor industry figures were ennobled they were collectively described as the "beerage". Is Mr Hurley's appointment the first in a similar line of Australians: perhaps the appropriate collective noun for them is the "corkage"?

17 June 2006

More on Wikipedia and related matters

Arts & Letters Daily has drawn my attention to an article from The Edge "
Digital Maoism: the hazards of the new collectivism" by
Jarod Lanier, which is very critical of Wikipedia. Here is an extract which gives some (but not all) of its flavour:

Reading a Wikipedia entry is like reading the bible closely. There are faint traces of the voices of various anonymous authors and editors, though it is impossible to be sure...At the very least it's a success at revealing what the online people with the most determination and time on their hands are thinking, and that's actually interesting information.

No, the problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous.

In this week's Fin Review Review section (which is back to 12 pages after being cut to 8 for last weekend's "bumper" edition) John Quiggin takes a more positive view, as the title of his piece "When co-operation trumps competition" suggests. This is not available online on the AFR website which is cutting off its nose to spite its face by paring down its free online content. Thankfully John Quiggin practices what he preaches and has published his article on his blog.

I'm more disposed towards Quiggin's views though I have much sympathy for Lanier's attempts to amend the errors in his Wikipedia entry (which as I post does not seem to claim that he is a film director).

Both are well worth reading.

13 June 2006

New Yorker stories

ABC RN's Late Night Live yesterday had a topnotch program featuring several New Yorker people (check link or, better still, download the audio to find out more).

Earlier this year I bought the Complete New Yorker, which is an almost complete run of the magazine from its beginning in 1925 to February 2005 presented on 8 DVDs with an accompanying book of highlights. It takes a while to get used to reading the magazines on a computer monitor but it can be done with a little practice and patience. For people like me who have long admired the New Yorker for the elegant incisiveness of its writing and cartoons it is a treasure.

12 June 2006

"An act of asymmetric warfare waged against us"?

This was part of a statement made by the CO of the Guantanamo camp about the reported suicide of three detainees, one of whom, according to the BBC was about to be freed.

The deaths themselves have provoked considerable comment from the media in the Arab and South Asian, including from those in countries which are often thought to be reasonably understanding of other US actions. For a sample collected by the BBC see here.

The Australian reports that the EU is also growing more vocal in its demands that Guantanamo should be closed.

As for David Hicks, his military lawyer Major Mori and the Australian Government have very different views of his current state:

"Whitewash claim on Hicks' condition" is The Australian's headline.

"I have been told that he received a consular visit ... and the report from that consular visit was positive," Mr Howard said today.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told AAP Australia's consul-general in Washington had visited Hicks and "confirmed that he was fit and well".

On the other hand

Hicks's military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, told ABC radio after the same visit that Hicks was in poor health, showing weight loss and continuing signs of depression."He'd lost a lot of weight. I think the weight loss is part of his loss of appetite, just coming on from his ... depression manifesting itself in that way," Major Mori said.

For the complete story see here

11 June 2006

Under the (German) weather?

On tonight's ABC-TV News Peter Wilkins reported from Germany on the World Cup. He mentioned that the weather was hot (check it out here) and looked a tad uncomfortable. Was he overcome by the occasion, or the weather?

Update 12 June

Tonight Peter Wilkins in his ABC-TV news report again referred to the hot weather in Germany: est max 33 deg C. Surely Australian soccer players are capable of lasting 90 minutes in such conditions?

Suicides at Guantanamo Bay: is Mr Howard capable of interceding on behalf of an Australian citizen?

The reported suicide of three detainees in the Guantanamo prison/ detention facility/ concentration camp: see here , has, not surprisingly, failed to elicit a response from the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister, each of whom has continued to wash his hands of any responsibility for, let alone concern for, the fate of David Hicks, an Australian citizen whose fate has been consigned to the extra-judicial mercies of a President Bush (or Mr Rumsfeld) appointed military commission.

06 June 2006

Rannspeak redux

Today's Crikey (subscription only) led with an item about nuclear power and uranium mining in South Australia. Premier Rann was quoted as supporting uranium mining (which already contributes significantly to the state's economy) while opposing the construction of a nuclear power genration plant here.

Many people who are even remotely acquainted with Mr Rann's style would know that with him a denial is often a prelude to an about face, so don't be surprised if he changes his mind about the power plant.

Ashes to ashes, or dust to dust?

After England's recent struggles in the test (cricket) series against Sri Lanka which ended yesterday with a Sri Lankan victory I wonder how competitive the Ashes series later this year will be. I wouldn't be so bold as to predict an Australian walkover but, given (1) England's recent modest form and (2) Australia's home ground advantage, the matches may not be as keenly contested as we (that is all cricket lovers as opposed to partisan supporters) might have hoped.

More on Hicks

Today the Australian opinion section prints a feeble response to the recent concerns about David Hicks. The author, Neil James, Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, harrumphs :

The Law Council of Australia has unfortunately lapsed into domestic legal terminology in describing David Hicks as having languished powerless in custody for a period of 30 months before he was even charged with any offence.

Such a mix of fact, supposition and error is the latest version of the common but simplistic claim that it is merely a matter of trying Hicks or releasing him.

The law council appears to misunderstand that the legitimacy and duration of Hicks's continued detention as a captured combatant under the laws of armed conflict is a fundamentally separate issue to whether he can or should be tried on terrorism or other war crimes charges, and if so, how and by whom.

James mentions "laws" and "legitimacy" without explaining whose laws and whose (perception of) legitimacy he is talking about. He appears to be simply endorsing President Bush's executive decisions whose legal validity is currently (as he conceded) being challenged in the US Supreme Court on the grounds outlined in the ICJ paper .

Another WW2 veteran dies

Today's Australian has an obituary of yet another WW2 veteran, Penrod Dean, who was a Japanese POW and therefore probably suffered more than many if not most of his fellow veterans, especially because the Japanese sentenced him to two years in solitary confinement for an escape.

His army service record summary is available here. It would be good to see this fleshed out. Perhaps he kept diaries or wrote his memoirs (the obituary says that he was writing a novel at the time of his death) . Penrod Dean, like my father and many others, lived through many changes but made a significant contribution to Australia, an Australia which has changed almost beyond recognition since WW2 but which has still, in ways that I find difficult to pinpoint, in some respects shaped the Australia in which we live.

03 June 2006

Lawyers speak up for Hicks

Today's Australian prints a an open letter to the Prime Minister from John Dowd of the International Commission of Jurists Australian section. The letter, the names of its 76 signatories and an ICJ report David Hicks and Guantanamo Bay by Peter Vickery QC can be found here.

Apart from not stating a specific remedy, eg getting Hicks out of Guantanamo as soon as possible, the letter is very forthright :

As Australian lawyers, we wish to bring it to your attention that the imprisonment of David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay and his proposed trial by a US Military Commission are illegal under international law.

Whether or not Hicks is guilty or innocent is not the issue. The illegality lies in the process of indefinite detention and unfair trial by military commission, a process which expressly has no application to any US citizen.

Notwithstanding contrary positions adopted by the US, the protections of international humanitarian and human rights law, as reflected in the Geneva Convention and the Civil and Political Rights Covenant, remain applicable to Hicks. Both the US and Australia are parties to these treaties and are bound by them. However, Australia has failed to comply with its obligations and fulfill its responsibilities under international law and has been complicit in the conduct of the US.

The imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay and the unfair trial of Hicks by military commission are an affront to international legal standards, indeed all civilised legal standards. President George W. Bush has claimed the unilateral authority to try people nominated by him as suspected terrorists in a system which is wholly outside the traditional civilian and military judicial systems. He seeks to conduct such trials before people who are his chosen subordinates. The military commissions deny the basic rights to an independent and impartial trial and the procedures do not exclude evidence obtained by coercion, including the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.


If Australia fails to join the UK in condemning these violations, it not only fails in its duty to one of its citizens, it also plays a part in undermining international legal order. This is not in our own interests, nor is it in the interests of our strategic partner. It is therefore imperative that Australia encourages the US to respect the principles of the rule of law and the protection of the bedrock freedoms which are enshrined in the major international law treaties.

The menace of terrorism is real. However, to meet the danger, the world needs not only a military solution but renewed and sustained commitment to the rule of law and to fundamental principles of human dignity and respect for human rights. This is the shared heritage of a civilised world. Unless we are vigilant, terrorism may achieve the destruction of these values. We should not give it such a victory.
John Dowd QC
President, International Commission of Jurists Australian Section

The PM has already backed down once this week (over the proposed Snowy privatisation) so it's probably asking too much for a man of his political acumen to shift his ground again so soon.