Urgent response to the Anti-terrorism Legislation sign now

Sign the pledge below to tell our government and the leader of the opposition, that we oppose the anti-terrorism laws. This petition will be emailed by November 11th. 2005.

The Hon John Howard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

The Hon Kim Beazley MP
Leader of the Opposition

The Honourable Stephen Bracks MP
Premier of Victoria


4 November 2005

Dear Sirs,

We are writing to you to express our opposition and to urge you to reconsider the governments new anti-terrorism laws.

While we agree that there is a genuine need to defend ourselves from the threat of terrorism we also agree with the Law Council of Australias concerns that these laws will not necessarily make Australia a safer place. The initial reaction by Australian Lawyers Alliance president Richard Faulks that these laws are totalitarian and un-Australian is a reading that concerns us greatly as professionals committed to promoting peace through the built environment. The sedition laws will affect critical political and creative expression, which nourishes public art, urban and architectural design. It is not clear to us as to how removing rights of protest and criticism is supposed to make us safer. The law threatens the legality of actions by professional organisations such as our own who actively pursue independent debate on the development of our cities.

We are most concerned to think that our civil rights and especially our right to voice difference and dissent are being compromised at the expense of laws that are seen by many as not only extreme but unnecessary. These new anti-terrorism laws have drawn criticism from respected leaders such as Malcolm Frazer who see parallels in those created under the notorious apartheid laws of South Africa during its descent into a police state. We cannot afford to ignore these warnings. Our concerns are based on how we house a society whose governance is driven by this type of extremism, fear and distrust.

The decision to go to war against the people of Iraq, we argue has been an act of great irresponsibility on the part of the Government. It has delivered violent and tragic consequences against the occupying forces, their allies, soldiers and civilians; a consequence predicted by those of which we were one of many. We are devastated at the level of destruction already perpetrated against civilian populations in particular, as a direct consequence of our countries militarism; we vehemently oppose the placing of our own civilian population into an aggressively oppressive and reactionary environment as a result of these new anti-terrorism laws.

The shared built environment relies, like public society, on a degree of trust. We see the new laws as signalling the decreasing level of trust the government has in its citizens. As that mutual trust and conviviality is eroded, this sets a dangerous precedent, which is quickly reflected in a hardening/armouring of the public realm. It is the poor, the young, and the migrants, of non-Anglo descent, who are most at risk of suffering human rights abuse and systematic discrimination under these new laws. We are most concerned that this can too easily lead to their sense of victimisation and a hardening into violent resentment from which we will all suffer.

Our way of life, so often cited by the promoters of these new laws, has already been shattered, not by external forces, but by an eagerness to wage war and promote fear to achieve our security objectives. This is not a sustainable way to achieve security, but a reactionary approach that is not conducive to peace. We believe that real long-term security will best be achieved through intelligent, reflective and humane redressing of our wrongdoings and by:

- Demonstrating respect for people from all nations, for their culture, heritage, livelihood and environment.
- Re-engaging with the wider international community, from which, in the recent years, we have alienated ourselves.
- Being pro-active in finding solutions to social, environmental and economic injustices which are the centre of social unrest
- Generating a climate of conviviality and trust, locally and globally.

We, in line with Terry O'Gorman, of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, believe that these laws represent an appalling state of affairs. We, as professionals of the built environment committed to promoting civil society, urge you most vehemently to oppose these terrorist laws on the basis of respect for democratic principles, protection of human rights and the taking on of shared responsibility for compounding those forces of terrorism we fear so greatly.



Yours sincerely,

Beatriz C. Maturana
Architect / Urban Designer and President of Architects for Peace

Su Mellersh-Lucas
Designer, PhD candidate and Vice-president of Architects for Peace

Shelley Freeman
Architect and Architects for Peace Secretary

Anthony McInneny
Urban Artist and Architects for Peace Public Officer

Peter Johns
Architect and Architects for Peace Seminars Coordinator

Stephen Cameron
Architect and Architects for Peace Brisbane Coordinator

Karen Tanfield
Architect and Architects for Peace Campaigns Person

Matthew Bond
Engineer and Architects for Peace Treasurer

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Rick VillaBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
Petition target:
Australian political leaders

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