It's very interesting to see how Australia is handling the planned Australian Cricket team's tour of Zimbabwe, especially when compared with New Zealand's more hands off approach to the same issue.
John Howard has announced that the Australian Government will ban the Australian players from going on the tour, apparently by using government "powers over [players'] passports".
While I think it is great that the tour won't be going ahead, and its even better that Mugabe won't be receiving the proceeds of the contractual fine which would otherwise be levied on the ACB by the ICC (unless the Zimbabwean government or the ICC are able to make the Australian government liable for the fine), this is still pretty worrying.
In this case, it seems pretty clear that the ACB, and the individual players are not keen to take part in this tour, and that the travel ban will probably be welcome. However, the prospect of a government banning people from leaving the country on political grounds is quite disturbing. While I sympathise with Howard's objectives here (and no, I never thought I would say that either!), I think it could have been achieved in a much less disturbing way, either by the australian Gvoernment issuing a travel advisory recommending the avoidance of travel to Zimbabwe, which the ACB could then use as an excuse not to tour, or by the Australian government agreeing to indemnify the ACB for any losses or fines incurred. This would also have allowed the ACB to make a principled stand on their decision to not tour Zimbabwe, rather than pretending it is not really their idea not to tour!