“Operation Southern Cross” – You are under (more) surveillance!

On May 1, the new federally funded $4.5 million G20 Police Operations Centre in Brisbane was officially opened by Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Brisbane Times** reported: “Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the “world first, state of the art” G20 Operations Centre would not look out of place on the set of Battlestar Galactica.”

“You won’t have people in different rooms trying to communicate – they’ll be linked directly to each other for the first time, which will be a distinct advantage,” he said.

Queensland Police Service Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said Operation Southern Cross, the G20 security operation, would be the largest peace time security operation in Australia’s history.

“We’ll also be doing a range of exercises to test our capabilities here … there will be rolling exercises over the next few months to make sure when we get to the G20 we’re as prepared as we possibly can be.”

Mr Barnett said the G20 Police Operations Centre would remain in place as a permanent legacy of the summit.

Thanks for the legacy G20!

Surveillance cameras on a building

Surveillance is everywhere! (Photo by Jonathan McIntosh)

Heard of VLAD – aka the Bikie Laws – actually the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013?  The new Out of Control Event laws?  The G2O Act?  G20 governments use “law and order” campaigns to galvanise political support.  Couched in terms such as “Safety and Security” and marketed to the public as targeting undesirable elements, these laws impact on all of us.

Increased police powers and infrastructure developed ostensibly for the protection of the 20 heads of state who will be gathering in Brisbane for the G20 and their entourages – are already in effect and will remain in use beyond the G20 Summit in November.  Many see these laws as threatening to our civil liberties, our rights to assemble, organise and to associate.  There is also a noticeable trend towards militarising police services (ie police using armoured personal vehicles), increased police powers and an erosion of the separation between legislative and judiciary in government.

The G20 Act overrides the Peaceful Assembly Act – which, in effect, means, your right to assemble is contingent on state sanction.  The police have not ruled out using VLAD on G20 protestors and the new police party powers could see ordinary people punished for their friends, colleagues or associated “offences.”

Feel safer yet?  These laws do not protect us, they make us more fearful of each other and are a tool to silence dissent.  The brand spankin’ new state of the art surveillance centre will be monitoring the community well after memories of the G20 are faded… armoured personal vehicles, new weapons and increased police powers will no-doubt continue to impact the most marginalised members of our community well in to the future.  When Joh banned street marches in Queensland, people took to the streets.  Once again, the push to erode civil liberties must be taken as a call to action – these laws and these trends must be challenged.

One of the first steps to taking back control is getting informed.  The Caxton Legal Service will be presenting a series of community education sessions on G20 laws. The first session is this Thursday at 5:30 at the Brisbane Square Library (more details below).

We hope to see you there.

Caxton Legal Service presents…

G20 (Safety and Security) Act – Free information session for community members

An opportunity to understand the G20 laws and how they may impact upon you.

Date: Thursday 15 May 2014, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Venue: Brisbane Square Library Community Meeting Room (Ground Level)
266 George Street, Brisbane City

RSVP essential to camielle@caxton.org.au or phone 3214 6333

**Full Brisbane Times story available here: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/questions-over-putin-as-g20-operation-centre-opens-20140501-37k7d.html#ixzz31VWei1mU.

More info:

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