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Silencing Dissent: How the Australian…

Silencing Dissent: How the Australian government is controlling public…

by Clive Hamilton

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A frightening analysis of the tactics used by the Howard government to silence independent experts and commentators as well as public servants and organisations which criticise its policies. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Gillian Leahy's movie Our Park has a special place in my heart because the park in question is _my_ park. Someone commented that in its portrayal of the struggles over what use should be made of a little patch of semi-derelict land we were watching something like true democracy in action. People disagreed passionately, at times (off camera) came to blows, and (on camera) declared intense animosity for each other. But things were thrashed out. Many points of view were heard. That's not how democracy works in Prime Minister John W Howard's Australia. People do get beaten up, of course, mostly off camera and with a legal requirement not to talk about it. But disagreement with government policies doesn't get much of a look-in. Silencing Dissent is a chilling look at the way dissenting voices have been systematically intimidated, bribed, excluded, or drowned out over the last decade or so. It lists the democratic institutions that have been undermined: the media, the senate, non-government organisations, intelligence and defence services, the public service, universities. Because it's a book of essays all making the same point, there's quite a bit of overlap and repetition, but for slow learners like me that's probably all to the good. There's not much in the book that I didn't already know in a vague way, but it's chilling to read it laid out like this. A young friend of mine is fond of saying that the Coalition are Fascists (he intends the term precisely) and that only cowardice stops people from saying so; the detail accumulated in this book makes him seem less hyperbolic. ( )
  shawjonathan | Apr 1, 2007 |
A great little book. It's not interested in making wild accusations. Instead, it simply gathers and clearly re-tells related stories, most of which have been previously reported. Put together they show a common pattern of behavious by our current government - all aimed at closing down public debate - which are both frightening and anger-inducing. ( )
  mtt1 | Mar 21, 2007 |
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A timely, disturbing and unnerving book. For over a decade, the Howard government has found ways to silence its critics, one by one. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, Australians have become accustomed to repeated attacks on respected individuals and organisations. For a government which claims to support freedom of speech and freedom of choice, only certain kinds of speech and choices appear to be acceptable.Silencing Dissent uncovers the tactics used by John Howard and his colleagues to undermine dissenting and independent opinion. Bullying, intimidation, public denigration, threats of withdrawal of funding, personal harassment, increased government red tape and manipulation of the rules are all tools of trade for a government that wants to keep a lid on public debate. The victims are charities, academics, researchers, journalists, judges, public sector organisations, even parliament itself.… (more)

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