The uproar about Zaky Mallah being allowed to ask a question on the ABC’s Q&A program shows we are led by a government that hates freedom of speech and those with an opposing view.
Mallah was the first Australian charged under the Howard government’s anti-terror laws in 2003 due to a video he had posted on Youtube after he was refused a passport. He was acquitted of the terrorism charges in 2005 but was convicted of threatening a Commonwealth official. Mallah spent two years in Goulburn’s Supermax unit awaiting trial.
In 2011, Mallah travelled to Syria during the Syrian civil war and took part in what he described as “non-combative jihad.”
On Monday night, Mallah asked what would of happened to him in 2003 had the government’s planned changes to citizenship laws were in place. Abbott government minister Steve Ciobo told Mallah “I’d be pleased to be part of a government that would say you’re out of the country.”
Mallah fired back, saying “The Liberals have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of ministers like him.”
Mallah’s appearance has had the government calling the ABC seditious and the Prime Minister calling for heads to roll at the ABC, particularly after rebroadcasting Mallah’s comments. In a party room meeting, Abbott decried the program as being a “lefty lynch mob.”
The government has launched an investigation into how Mallah was cleared to be in the audience and to ask a question, given that he is a criminal.
While Mallah’s comments were misguided, he is entitled to his opinion and to express that opinion. The problem is that under this government, freedom of speech has been thrown out the window if it is at odds with national security. The Abbott government hates freedom of speech where that freedom goes against its views.
The ABC is a national broadcaster which should be independent from the government. For the government to now investigate it for allowing someone with an opposing view onto a public affairs programme is ludicrous. There is nothing wrong with the broadcaster showing someone with a different view from the government (and likely the rest of society), particularly where that argument stirs debate.
The reality is that the Abbott government’s proposed citizenship laws are dangerous and will do little to stop the flow of those who support ISIL leaving our shores to fight for that cause. Obviously if they are willing to leave they aren’t too concerned about their allegiance to Australia. The worry is being a nation which is slowly eroding gour rights in the name of national security, allowing terror groups to change our way of life.