A dox on both our houses?

As Israel launches a ground offensive in Rafah, the Australian government rushes to outlaw doxxing

The situation in Gaza has become impossible to bear. The international community continues to “caution” Israel against a ground offensive in the city of Rafah, where around 1.5 million civilians are sheltering with nowhere further to flee. The UN is warning of “carnage”, describing the potential scope of casualties as “terrifying”. At least 74 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike overnight, while increasingly distressing images of children are emerging, following the news that missing six-year-old Hind Rajab had been found dead in her family’s car (the ambulance dispatched to save her was found bombed nearby). Experts say the demise of UNRWA, to which our government has suspended funding, would be catastrophic for Gaza, and questions remain over just how much evidence our foreign minister had when she made the call to halt funding. So what is the Albanese government currently focused on? Rushing out a vague, kneejerk proposal to outlaw “doxxing”, following the leak of a “Jewish creatives” WhatsApp chat, in which members had encouraged each other to seek to have pro-Palestinian voices silenced.

There is certainly something alarming going on here, with death threats flying both ways. But the idea that these individuals were being targeted simply because “they are members of the Jewish community”, as the PM has claimed, or that the government should now prioritise criminalising doxxing above all else, is ludicrous. Anthony Albanese told 2GB yesterday that he had asked Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to bring forward legislation in response to the incident. But legal experts are questioning the move, not to mention the rush with which it is being undertaken, with some noting that there are already laws against the practice. As Marque Lawyers’ Michael Bradley writes in Crikey, the premise of outlawing doxxing is “deeply problematic” given the context, and he argues that criminal law is “the last dispute-resolution mechanism for which we should be reaching”.

Unfortunately, Dreyfus didn’t seem to have many details about the new legislation when he spoke to the media this morning, other than to note that it would form part of religious discrimination reforms. He was unable to say whether journalists’ reporting on the leaked group chat would face penalties under the laws, even if the reporting was in the public interest (the leaking of the group chat in question was originally reported by Nine). As The Saturday Paper’s Rick Morton noted, this appears to be Albanese’s “needles in strawberry moment”, with legislation being rushed in response to a moral panic.

It’s also worth noting that much of the breathless coverage of this incident has conveniently failed to mention the fact that this was not simply a list of “Jewish Australians largely working in creative industries”, released for the simple fact that they were Jewish. As journalist Alex McKinnon writes, this is “a gross misrepresentation of why the transcript was leaked and why people are angry at its contents”, with the group chat having become “a place where people organised to have people fired and professionally censured for publicly supporting Palestine”. (It is believed the leak came from a member of the group who was uncomfortable with its contents.) Feminist writer Clementine Ford, who shared the leaked chat as well being targeted by it, told Guardian Australia that there was a “fixation on rewriting narratives in order to obfuscate the truth”, which is part of a wider effort to silence those who criticise Israel. As some have noted, we did not see this level of concern from the government when others were doxxed for flying the Palestinian flag, nor over the contents of the chat itself, which was in part aimed at ruining other people’s careers.

There is no end in sight to this local tit-for-tat. But it’s telling that this government panic has arisen in response to the leaking of the WhatsApp chat, rather than its contents or, heaven forbid, the carnage that is unfolding on the other side of the world. The Albanese government has sprung into action over this, responding to calls from Jewish MPs and lobby groups. But there is still little action being taken in response to the growing death toll in Gaza, with the federal government merely suggesting that Israel should “exercise special care” as it moves into a terrifying new stage of its war on Gaza.

“As the report is handed down today, we must recognise that Stolen Generations survivors are a ‘gap within the gap’, a statistical indicator of truth not reconciled. As Stolen Generations survivors age, urgency grows.”

The National Healing Foundation says many Stolen Generations survivors have still not had access to redress schemes, as Australia marks 16 years since the national apology to the Stolen Generations. The government has today delivered yet another shameful Closing the Gap update, revealing that only four out of 19 targets are on track.

“This will break you … You must approve this.”

The words former PM Scott Morrison allegedly said to former Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in September 2020, as he lobbied her to grant an exemption to the state’s border rules (Palaszczuk hung up on him). Morrison’s “women problem” was a focus of last night’s Nemesis series finale, with close observers noting his relationship with his female colleagues “left a lot to be desired”.

+$5m

The amount the Labor Party raised in “hidden money” from big corporates last financial year, with almost $600,000 from gambling companies flowing in via payments to the Federal Labor Business Forum, meaning they are not technically donations.

New commissioner for Indigenous children

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced a national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, along with a new remote jobs program and training hubs, as part of today’s Closing the Gap statement. The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care has welcomed the announcement, noting it was a measure First Nations experts and communities have long called for.

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