Read Louise Dodson's article. An excerpt follows:
"The most pervasive change to Parliament, our democracy and legal system has been the response to terrorism sparked by September 11, 2001, and the Bali bombings. People were stopped from walking over the grassy hill covering the new Parliament building, which was an attraction of the original design. Security barriers were installed to prevent people driving close to the building. Police checks for permanent security pass holders have been tightened.
The new Parliament resembles a fortress more than a people's house; possibly inevitable, but still a shame.
Fear of terrorism also struck the law, sweeping away many democratic freedoms in 29 pieces of legislation passed since September 11.
The anti-terrorism legislation includes restrictions on freedom of expression, police powers to issue control orders (including house arrest) and holding people without charge for up to 14 days, and new surveillance powers. The Law Council said that for the first time in Australian history, law enforcement agencies would be able to read private emails, telephone text messages and other information sent between people who are not suspects...
Nineteen Eighty-Four was the title of George Orwell's classic novel depicting a state ruled by Big Brother, but many saw 2006 as the year Orwell's fantasy came closer to reality in Australia.
Fear of asylum seekers arriving by boat sparked a disproportionate response by the Government, which created an elaborate system for processing and detaining people. If not for the courageous opposition of a handful of small "l" Liberal parliamentarians - including Petro Georgiou, Bruce Baird, Judi Moylan and Judith Troeth - the system for dealing with asylum seekers would be far harsher. Intervention by Georgiou and others also softened aspects of the anti-terrorism laws...
As in 1984, many policies are designed to adapt Australia to something largely out of the Government's control: the global marketplace.
Voters now are less likely to be true believers of either main party, but I hope they will not give up on politics. We don't want our democracy to become a museum."
Yes, Louise, it's a worry and I hope more senior political journalists shine a light on the dimunition of freedoms and rights that are a hallmark of Howard's government.