Spying, ID Cards: Liberals Don’t Believe and Don’t Care

Two recent events – the passage of the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Act, and backdoor identity cards in NSW – show how far the Liberal Party has strayed from its former core beliefs.

Over the past 30 years Liberal party leaders, MPs and administrators have jettisoned all political principle and replaced it with optics, mutual preferment and career advancement. With that has come a willingness to expand government power at every turn, even if contrary to liberal, and Liberal, principles.

Breaching Liberal Beliefs

I clipped this fundamental statement from the NSW Liberal Party website today.

“Beliefs” of the NSW Liberal Party at 30 August 2021

NSW Defacto Identity Cards

In 1986, as a keen but unskilled researcher, I worked with a couple of motivated (Labor) lawyers to oppose the ALP’s introduction of the Australia Card. To their credit, so did many ALP figures. It was a horribly broad bit of data gathering with stalinesque requirements to produce it for many normal aspects of life.

It got shot down. Our expanded Tax File Number system was the second-best choice that the ALP government implemented in 1988. Broader ID card proposals emerged in different forms, many times over, generally sponsored by Liberal governments.

The idea has been shot down many times because of its fundamentally illiberal nature. It is controversial, and it goes to the heart of what we think our society should be.

Such fundamental policy should always be debated openly and with community input, and must have the authoritative stamp of legislation.

Not in Gladys Berejilklian’s NSW, it doesn’t.

As part of the Chief Wiggum suite of changes on July 9, 2021, NSW citizens have to carry proof of address and produce it when asked by police.

This isn’t legislation that has been debated. It is an Order from Brad Hazzard, Minister for Health and Medical Research, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010.

Get that: We have to provide evidence of who we are (the definition of an identity card) based on Boofhead Hazzard’s whim. Defacto identity card by administrative fiat.

It gets worse. If you live in one of the restricted LGAs and work in construction, or just work outside Sydney, to leave it you now have to show proof of vaccination status, test results or medical exemption. To your boss, the cops or “authorised officer”. There is a medical test for working that does not relate to your capacity to do the job, and you have to carry proof.

Spying and Taking Over Your Email and Social Media

Not to be outdone, the Federal Liberals (fully supported by the ALP, of course) now have passed legislation that Melbourne Activist Legal summarises as:

Data Disruption Warrants, which allow the AFP and the ACIC (or another person on the law enforcement officer’s behalf) the ability to “add, copy, delete or alter” files on a computer or device, so as to “frustrate the commission of crime” where a law enforcement officer “reasonably suspects” that one or more “relevant offences” are “being, are about to be, or are likely to be” committed.

Network Activity Warrants, which “allow agencies to collect intelligence on serious criminal activity being conducted by criminal networks” by intercepting communications and using surveillance devices on computer networks. The AFP and the ACIC are permitted to do “any thing reasonably necessary to conceal” their access and modification to computers, allowing the warrant to be conducted covertly. This is available where there is a “reasonable suspicion” that monitoring the network activity of a “criminal network of individuals” is “relevant to the prevention, detection or frustration of one or more kinds of ‘relevant offences.’”

Account Takeover Warrants, which provide agencies with the ability to take control of a person’s online account “through the modification of data” for the purposes of “gathering evidence to further a criminal investigation.” This is available where there is a “reasonable suspicion” that one or more “relevant offences” are “being, are about to be, or are likely to be” committed; an investigation is either imminent or in progress, and taking control of the “target accounts” is “necessary for enabling evidence to be obtained.”

I’m not going to even discuss this. It is self-evidently inconsistent with liberal principles, is certain to be misused for political purposes against both the Left and Right, and is appallingly vague in application, and hands far too much fundamental power to the AAT for Data Disruption or Network Activity warrants.

Any Liberal who talks about inalienable freedom, liberty, the Forgotten People, enterprise, small government or any other belief that they supposedly support, should, from now on be ridiculed, abused, and pelted with eggs.

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