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Assessing the social contract equilibrium in a Post 9/11 world: An Australian perspective

Cooper, Robyn (2011) Assessing the social contract equilibrium in a Post 9/11 world: An Australian perspective. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Ever since al Qaeda attacked America on 11 September 2001, terrorism has been recognised as a global threat. This, coupled with a United States alliance in ventures such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has elevated the threat faced by Australia, both domestically and abroad.

As a result of this increased threat and driven by a directive issued by the United Nations Security Council, Australia introduced a wide range of anti-terrorism legislation. The purpose of these new laws was to detect, prevent, investigate and prosecute those involved in terrorist activity. However, these new laws had the potential to greatly erode individual rights and freedoms, factors that are considered to be the hallmark of a liberal democracy.

Arguing that Australia adheres to a Lockean version of the social contract, this thesis is based on the premise that the main function of a government is to provide a safe environment so that an individual is free to live their life with no more interference than is necessary. In return, the individual must abide by that country’s rules and regulations.

A decade has elapsed since the events of 9/11 and it is now an appropriate moment in time to assess the current status of Australia’s social contract. The key issue is whether the Government’s security measures unjustifiably overrides the balance needed to uphold the individual civil rights and liberties of the Australian people.

Taking into account a range of different perspectives, including parliamentary debates, public perceptions and judicial comments, it is put forth that the Government is achieving the right balance in the quest to provide protection against terrorism whilst at the same time preserving fundamental civil rights.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Ganguly, Rajat
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