Our treachery laws need to be further reformed to outlaw reckless as well as intentional acts

Our treachery laws rightly outlaw assisting the enemy if it is intentional and an act. Given some recent thoughtless, irresponsible and even callous behaviour, reckless acts should also now be outlawed.

Letter to The Canberra Times 

Wednesday, 05 September 2012
(published Friday, 07 September 2012)

John Passant (Letters, September 5) exemplifies the lack of empathy and citizenship irresponsibility that needlessly endangers our troops and undermines informed public debate.

Especially when, as in this case, such factually incorrect, simplistic and perhaps ideological claims about complex and nuanced issues bolster enemy propaganda in both Afghanistan and Australia.

And where this consequence would or should be known by any reasonable and responsible person.

Our reformed treachery laws now rightly criminalise intentional acts, anywhere in the world, that assist an enemy we send our defence force to fight on Australia’s behalf.

Thus closing the 1945-2001 Burchett loophole that allowed its namesake, and later David Hicks, to escape prosecution for acts that if undertaken now are criminal offences.

Australia is at war, not just our defence force.

The recognition, discouragement, prohibition and punishment of irresponsible acts are necessary reciprocal obligations every Australian owes to the fellow citizens our government lawfully commits to war.

As with many other offences, such as dangerous driving and racial vilification, our treachery laws need further reform to also criminalise reckless acts.

As with vilification offences, reasonable, responsible and morally legitimate public dissent would be unaffected.


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