Bali 2. It sounds like a movie sequel. And this time, we have horrific home movie footage of some of the bombs going off.

Many questions are raised by this new atrocity. How long before Bali tourism regenerates? Will this be the beginning of an even closer relationship between Indonesia and Australia at a governmental and police level? And will it mean a more distant relationship between our peoples? Where did the suicide bombers come from? (There are now reports that they had been trained in the Philippines.)

How was it that local rugby players with connections to the ‘Bali mafia’ were warned that there might be an attack planned for that night? And our intelligence agencies apparently had no idea.

Thanks to Bill Leak at <i>The Australian</i>”  ></p>
<p><span><small>Thanks to <a href=Bill Leak at The Australian

The inadequacies of the Australian intelligence agencies are obvious, and have been so since the botched job on Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. Their cry will be that these sorts of attacks are impossible to predict and prevent.

Unfortunately they’re right.

The problem is that the Australian Government persists in supporting a strategy that not only doesn’t help prevent these attacks, it makes them inevitable. The evidence from Robert Pape’s analysis of suicide attacks is clear (click here and here for Robert’s articles in New Matilda). The first step in preventing Bali 3 is the removal of foreign troops from Iraq. Bush and Blair and Howard have goofed. They should admit it and work with the shattered remnants of the State they have created in Iraq to extricate themselves as quickly as possible.

Maybe then, the Coalition of the Willing (But Seemingly Not Able) could redirect the billions of dollars it’s saved to finding a certain fellow with a kidney complaint hiding out in Pakistan, as well as helping Afghanistan and Iraq rediscover the benefits of civilization.

This is, admittedly, a long term strategy and requires skill, commitment and possibly luck to succeed.

Unfortunately, it’s a better bet than the one we’ve got at the moment.

As I write this and we load up the next issue of New Matilda, the office is also coordinating tonight’s launch of the Human Rights Act campaign in Sydney. New Matilda has spent several months drafting a bill which honours Australia’s international human rights obligations.

Australia is currently the only Western country without a Human Rights Act or its equivalent.

The need for a Human Rights Act has now become urgent. This is not least because the recent failures of the so-called War on Terror have frightened our governments to such an extent that they feel ‘draconian’ (their word) curtailments of our present civil liberties are justified.

No one is arguing that we shouldn’t increase our efforts to stop and catch terrorists (and even terrorist sympathisers). No one seriously believes that security at airports and elsewhere shouldn’t be tightened.

However, in an atmosphere where certain information cannot (apparently) be revealed to the wider public by the Government’s intelligence agencies, then it is imperative that we know there is a bottom line below which our civil liberties cannot be compromised, even temporarily.

A Human Rights Act ensures a minimum level of protection for all Australians.

A draft form of the Act will be launched tonight in Sydney. We intend to present this draft at meetings around Australia over the next 12 months. It will be posted in PDF format on the New Matilda site and we seek your comments and feedback through this forum.

What will follow is a process of consultation with individuals and organisations, which will amend the draft document and a year from now we hope to have a Bill tabled and debated in Federal Parliament.

We are being told that unspecified pressures are forcing the hand of our governments as they curtail our civil liberties. New Matilda‘s campaign is a crucial balance to these unspecified pressures.

Help New Matilda conduct this campaign.

Using the online forum, we ask you to post your comments, questions and criticisms of the draft Act. This process is meant to be educative and inclusive. New Matilda is prepared for a long-term campaign.

Stay tuned to find out when we are launching the Human Rights Act in your State.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.