Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fraser critical of the "values" of our government

IN DECIDING how to vote, Australians should make a judgement about which set of policies will do best for the future, will build a stronger nation and invest in the basic fabric that will enable Australia to compete throughout the world. Above all, we need to return to our traditional sense of fairness, justice and again guarantee the rule of law and due process for all people. We need a vision for the future based on these values.

Education is a basic priority. Too much government money has been taken out of education and the Government has sought to impose political solutions. Freedom and integrity of fundamental research should be re-established. Government should protect these attributes.

The environment is a major issue. It has been significantly debated but I do not believe either party has set out a comprehensive plan to make sure that Australian water is used effectively and in the national interest. One thing is clear, water is a national asset and its final use cannot be determined by price alone. We need to define a set of priorities.


When Menzies began the Liberal Party, he emphasised the need to maintain the rule of law, due process and search for the ideal of equal access to the law. In Australia we now know that these matters cannot be taken for granted. Too many are saying we cannot abide by basic democratic principles, we cannot in all cases support the rule of law and fight terrorism. It is easy for leaders to frighten people and make them believe their own principles must be breached. But it is a false argument. It represents a significant victory for the terrorists. Australians have been abused in foreign jails, in Immigration Department detention centres. Australians have been deported, children have been imprisoned and no one has been held accountable. This is, indeed, a national disgrace.

The new security laws have virtually turned ASIO into a secret police. In recent days we have seen how the authorities dealt with Tony Tran, allegedly unlawfully detained for more than five years. We have heard of the case of Izhar-ul-Haque. ASIO's activities in the latter case were roundly condemned by Justice Michael Adams from the bench. He accused ASIO of grossly improper conduct. If The Age report is accurate, it reads like the activities of a secret police in a dictatorship. That is not the Australia we know and love.

We do not know how many people have been affected by such conduct because in many cases new laws prevent publication. We should be enraged by such behaviour and act to end it.

We should again proclaim the basic principles of the rule of law and due process, the reality of Australian values, as our strongest attributes in fighting terrorism and creating a better world.

These issues have not been to the forefront of debate. They should have been. They will determine the character of Australia for years to come. Which party will best advance that Australia?

The Age