November 25th 2006

  Buy Issue 2745

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CLIMATE CHANGE: An appeal to reason: the economics and politics of climate change

EDITORIAL: Water infrastructure needed, not gimmicks

AUSTRALIA'S DROUGHT: COAG's free trade in water threatens farmers

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Howard's loyalty to U.S. faces severe test

UNITED STATES: U.S. voter backlash against Bush's Iraq war

IRAQ WAR: Bush runs out of options

THE ECONOMY: Wishful thinking about agriculture, manufacturing

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Taped calls incriminate ex-premier, minister

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Sinister side to lunatic fringe / The gentle art of blackening reputations / Faces of vulnerability / The old refrain?

HUMAN CLONING: Patterson's curse - the Frankenbunny

Lies, cowardice and cloning (letter)

Bouquet and brickbat for News Weekly (letter)

Optional preferential voting rejected (letter)

Greenhouse superstitions (letter)

Using children as spies (letter)

BOOKS: INSIDE THE ASYLUM: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think, by Jed Babbin

BOOKS: THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, by Antony Beevor

Books promotion page

Using children as spies (letter)

by Greg O'Regan

News Weekly, November 25, 2006


There is a long history in totalitarian countries of using children as spies to inform on those whom such governments believed to be working against them.

In the ACT, an ALP minister Kate Gallagher wishes to parallel practices of Communist governments, such as China, Romania (under Ceausescu), the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, and use adolescents to trap or inform on shopkeepers who sell cigarettes contrary to ACT laws. As in totalitarian regimes, the end justifies the means.

Eliminating sales of cigarettes to under-age people is a "good" in terms of public health; but is the training of youth in deceit and trickery, a "public good" or a means of their personal corruption?

Presumably recruitment will be secret, given the nature of the job. What will be the selection criteria for these young spies? Will recruits be non-smokers and be volunteers or enlisted? Will previous experience be an advantage? Must they look older than they are, without being 18? Their training will be in deception and persuasion. Will graduates want to add this qualification to their CVs?

What is the award rate? How many hours must they work? Are overtime, penalty rates and performance pay applicable? Will there be physical protection if cover is blown? How will they travel and with whom? To whom and how will they report? What legal power and protection will these informers have? May they harass young shop assistants into illicit sales? Are the relevant unions happy about all this?

After they are no longer useful or young-looking, will they be kept "on the books" as potential informers for future similar jobs and told their employment as "informers" when young, will be "revealed" if they do not co-operate.

In comparison with a system of inspectors, the schooling and use of youthful spies is degrading, devious and, given its antecedents, damning of its initiators and participants.

Greg O'Regan,
Farrer, ACT

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Memo to Shorten, Wong: LGBTIs don't want it

COVER STORY Shorten takes low road to defeat marriage plebiscite

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

COVER STORY Bill Shorten imposes his political will on the nation

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

ENVIRONMENT More pseudo science from climate

News and views from around the world

Menzies, myth and modern Australia (Jonathan Pincus)

China’s utterly disgraceful human-rights record

Japan’s cure for childlessness: a robot (Marcus Roberts)

SOGI laws: a subversive response to a non-existent problem (James Gottry)

Shakespeare, Cervantes and the romance of the real (R.V. Young)

That’s not funny: PC and humour (Anthony Sacramone)

Refugees celebrate capture of terror suspect

The Spectre of soft totalitarianism (Daniel Mahoney)

American dream more dead than you thought (Eric Levitz)

Think the world is overcrowded: These 10 maps show why you’re wrong (Max Galka)

© Copyright 2011
Last Modified:
November 14, 2015, 11:18 am