Tony Abbott Is Sounding Scary As Hell In Question Time Lately

"For some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift." Yeesh.

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Yesterday in Question Time, Tony Abbott outlined a bunch of measures in response to the perceived heightened threat of a domestic terrorist attack. An extra $630 million in funding is being directed to police, customs, surveillance and intelligence agencies, and biometric scanners will be rolled out at international airports within a year.

Abbott also made mention of new laws that would give intelligence agencies greater surveillance powers, grant federal police the power to detain terrorism suspects for longer times on less pretext, and require telcos to store people’s metadata and provide it to “police and security agencies”.

More broadly, and perhaps most importantly, the Prime Minister explicitly told Australians to expect to sacrifice some of their freedoms in exchange for more security:

“Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we’re used to, and more inconvenience than we’d like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.”

You can watch that moment below.

Serious stuff, and depending on who you ask, seriously flawed; Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch warned the government against pitting freedom against security in a thoughtful piece for The Guardian earlier today, and Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm warned a few days ago that increased powers for security agencies could lead to torture.

Regardless of whether there is an increased threat of a terror attack or not, arguing that you have to give up your freedom to protect your freedom is a very weird argument to make; in that same speech, Abbott himself said that “Australians should always live normally because terrorists’ goal is to scare us out of being ourselves”, which is exactly the opposite of what the rest of that speech was about. The weird dichotomy between those sentiments makes it seem like we’re less protecting ourselves and more doing exactly what terrorists want — making ourselves less free.

Feature image via ABC News/YouTube.