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Beazley says Defence Bill ‘Really useful in quelling incredibly violent Olympics’

[Edition 29] CANBERRA, Wednesday: The Opposition leader Mr Kim Beazley has expressed his enormous relief at Labor’s role in rushing through the Defence Legislation Amendment Act just days before the Olympics.


Mr Beazley claimed that the bill, which allows troops to fire on civilians in certain disputes, was “the only thing that saved us from Olympics-inspired anarchy”.

Defence Amendment Act: quelling violence

[Edition 29] CANBERRA, Wednesday: The Opposition leader Mr Kim Beazley has expressed his enormous relief at Labor’s role in rushing through the Defence Legislation Amendment Act just days before the Olympics.

Mr Beazley claimed that the bill, which allows troops to fire on civilians in certain disputes, was “the only thing that saved us from Olympics-inspired anarchy”.

The Labor Party had been criticised for refusing to support amendments to the Bill that would have prevented the army being used against strikes and political demonstrations because of fears that it would delay the Bill becoming law until after the Games.

“Thank God we did hurry the bill through,” said a triumphant Beazley. “What with all that violence and mayhem that the Olympics caused it was lucky the Army was just around the corner.”

While admitting that the Army was not actually called in during the Olympics Beazley claimed that there were many situations which came close.

“There was one night were some young people got drunk at the Martin Place Live site and came pretty close to threatening the fragile democracy we have in this country. At one stage it looked though people where leaving hand marks on the windows of an Armani store. That would have shaken the very foundations of our liberal democratic lifestyle.”

The Howard Liberal government thanked Mr Beazley for his support and reiterated the success of the legislative changes, especially their amendment allowing the army to be used in situations were there was “serious damage to property”.

“The only thing that stopped wide scale looting of stores and theft of property in the city were our amendments,” said Mr Howard.
“That and the fact that the athletes were kept in the village for most of the Games.”

Mr Howard said that the bill also demonstrated the Government’s commitment to making Australia a part of the Asia-Pacific rim.
“Look at all the countries in our region that use the army in civil affairs on a regular basis: Indonesia, Fiji, China, North Korea and look how successful they are,” he said.

While the bill proved very useful for the violent Olympics, it was not needed for the S11 protests in Melbourne.

“We were able to get past with normal police brutality laws and the occasional resort to the police’s powers to run over people in emergencies,” said Victorian Premier, Steven Bracks.