SMH - No Obligation
This is an excerpt from today's Sydney Morning Herald:
A Sydney courtroom packed with supporters of terrorist suspect David Hicks has been told the Australian Government has no legal obligation to help the Guantanamo Bay inmate. The Government might have a moral obligation to assist Australian people abroad, but there was no legal basis for a Federal Court challenge to Hicks's incarceration by United States authorities, the Federal Court was today told.
A team of lawyers has launched the action in a bid to force the Government to take steps Hicks home. The 31-year-old has been detained without trial at the US naval base since January 2002, following his arrest in Afghanistan. The action against the Federal Government, federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, seeks declarations and an order that could lead to the release of Hicks from the US military jail in Cuba.
Government lawyer, Solicitor-General David Bennett, QC, told the court a general obligation for the Federal Government to protect citizens abroad "is simply something that the law has never recognised".
However, The note inside Australian passports states:
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, request all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.
Put simply - that note inside your passport is worthless.
The rub is this:
People of Australia - no matter what happens to you abroad, and whether you happen to be arrested without charge, fitted up for charge or even suffering torture, your country honestly doesn't care even an iota about your welfare. Legally they're not required to give a hoot and experience tells us that that they won't even so much as lift a finger to help you.
Yet this same government has the power to send you off to war without your consent for any reason. They have the power under sedition laws to permanently detain you without cause.
And you wonder why I'm not proud to be an Australian... why should I bother?