|Facing Cauldron of Hate|
The final sitting day of parliament for the year failed to pass the bill to
increase ASIO powers - a bill which would have allowed ASIO to detain anyone
for 48 hours without a charge - even if they were not suspected of committing a
crime. The merits of such a
bill are, as usual, irrelevant to the political game which is being
Johhny (the-government-only-wants-what's-good-for-you) Howard wants more government power, and Simon
(lizard-in-a-tin) Crean is under pressure to make a stand. After the ALP's disastrous run of me-too
policy shifts, caving in on Tampa, excision, and strong border protection,
Simon has to differentiate himself on something - anything.
However this is a dangerous one to differentiate on. Australians are
either going to die on Australian soil in a terrorist attack, or they are not.
If there is no terrorist
strike, Simon will look like a struggling (if ineffectual) leader. However if
there is a strike, the government will blame it on Crean's legislative
recalcitrance, and he will be out.
Not only that, but the government will have a surefire double dissolution
trigger, and will probably win control of both houses of parliament.
So Johnny is betting on a terrorist strike, and Simon is betting against
one. However Johnny (I-talk-to-ASIO) Howard has better information than his
opponent, who has good reason to feel nervous.
Presumably Simon has been listening to that old John Cougar-Mellencamp
"You gotta stand for something, or you're gonna fall for anything".
If there is a terrorist strike, Simon will do both.