Legislative and policy responses to terrorism pose particular challenges for academic legal commentators who wish to analyse the adequacy of Australian governmental responses to actual and perceived threats of terrorism. Criticism of the flood of new legislation, its necessity and consistency with human rights standards and the rule of law, is often dismissed as the views only of the privileged and out-of touch liberal “chattering classes”, part of a political strategy positioning which seeks to defuse criticism by charactering it as the outpourings of an “elite”.
The role of critical scholarly analysis of anti-terrorism measures is of fundamental importance, as part of a critique of the way in which law and policy is made in response to particular social issues. This paper is not focused on cataloguing the failures of the federal government (or indeed those of the State governments which have followed, or been stampeded into following, the leader). Rather it sketches the contours of some of the recent debates around anti-terrorism legislation, identifies the roles that academic lawyers in particular have played, and draws attention to some of the difficulties and challenges that academics face in seeking to bring the benefits of reason, deliberation and evidence-based assessment of legislative and other measures taken by governments to create and to address our insecurity.
Date of this Version
Andrew Byrnes, "Law, Lawyers and Lattes: The (Ir)relevance of the Chattering Classes in a Time of Insecurity" (January 2007). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series. Working Paper 6.