Shooting the messenger

I’m not sure which is more illiberal: The Australian’s insistence that the Queensland government censor a literary competition (“Hicks shines in Bligh’s parallel literary universe”, 24/8), or its silence on the subject of the book it wants suppressed: that the world’s greatest democracy was running a prison camp on disputed territory in order to suspend most of the fundamental principles of law, including habeas corpus, the right to trial and the proscription of torture. This travesty has implications for civilisation more serious than any book royalties, and dwarfs any alleged crimes of the messenger they are so eager to shoot.

Their description of the book’s author David Hicks as “convicted” is wilfully false: the Guantanamo Military Commission which wrote his confession – signed under torture – was declared illegal only months after its creation and all charges against Hicks rendered void.

The Australian plays as loose with fact as with law when it claims Attorney-General Robert McClelland “confirmed that any literary ‘benefit’ will be covered by the Proceeds of Crime Act”, when what he actually said was “it’s for the court to determine what constitutes a literary proceed of crime”. For the Act to apply, presumably someone will first have convict Hicks of something.

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