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Cynical? Moi?

The Abbott government’s insistence on secrecy regarding boats carrying asylum seekers has been justified as “not wanting to act as a news service for people smugglers.” We can’t tell them our tactics even though the size of our army and details of its weapons, the number and capability of naval ships and air force planes are widely publicised and reports and photos of towbacks and orange life rafts are all over the Indonesian press.

One wonders why they would not want to publicise intercepts as surely this would act as a deterrent both to the people smugglers and their clients. The excuse wears thinner when one remembers them posing in front of billboards and giving a daily commentary whilst in opposition. How come defence didn’t tell them to stop divulging information?

Is it so we can keep up the pretence that the boats have stopped? Is it so we don’t get busted breaking maritime laws? Is it so Indonesia doesn’t get cross with us for making it their problem?

And why this secrecy should extend to offshore detention camps is even more mystifying. Not only are we not allowed to know, the government doesn’t want to know. The few people who have authority to oversee the well-being of these innocent people who are seeking our help have been ridiculed, threatened, silenced, sacked, deported or ignored.

Government departments have been instructed to dehumanise asylum seekers. This is a very deliberate strategy.

We mustn’t think of them as people just like us who have already endured horrors beyond our imagining. We mustn’t see the children behind razor wire. We mustn’t think of them learning to trade sexual favours for better treatment from those we employ to supposedly protect them. We mustn’t hear about the children in Adelaide who are doing well at school and have endeared themselves to their community. They must be whisked away in the dead of night. We mustn’t hear of babies separated from their families and children denied medication.

Because if we did, we might wonder what we have become.

When the human rights commission published the report on children in detention, Tony Abbott called it “a blatantly partisan politicised exercise” and that “the human rights commission should be ashamed of itself.” He said the government had lost confidence in Gillian Triggs in what he called “a political stitch-up”

When, in Senate estimates in February last year, shadow defence minister Stephen Conroy told the head of Operation Sovereign Borders, General Angus Campbell, that he was ”engaged in a political cover-up” all hell broke loose. Julie Bishop said it was an ”outrageous slur, indeed libel”. The fact that this is a civilian coastguard peacetime exercise seems to have escaped them.

Which brings me to my question for today.

If we agree that operations need to be kept secret when dealing with asylum seekers (which I don’t, but let’s move on), why does that not apply even more so to our “war on terror”?

Before any invitation had been issued or agreement signed, Tony Abbott was announcing to the Australian media exactly how many planes and personnel we were sending to the Middle East, where they would be stationed and when they were arriving. He released details of how many flights were flown, how many bombs dropped, how many targets hit with film to accompany the daily commentary.

On the domestic scene, when hundreds of police carried out pre-dawn raids on a few houses, they filmed the whole thing including homes and handcuffed kids who were later let go with no charge, then gave this footage to the television stations and newspapers despite the innocence of these people. A plastic sword was taken out in a clear plastic evidence bag for all to see.

And why was the Sydney siege on live TV? Isn’t that giving a platform to a terrorist in a far greater way than Q&A did by allowing a person of and with interest to ask a relevant question? Did I hear anyone saying Monis is attention seeking which he clearly was. He wanted to speak to Tony Abbott who did as Ciobo did. He wouldn’t even take the call which is when the hostages got really scared.

“It was then that I knew that there was not going to be any negotiation and we were just left there. No-one was coming for us.” But they were certainly filming you, and filming those who escaped showing exactly where they were leaving the building. This apparently infuriated Monis. Where is the inquiry into the role this uninterrupted news coverage played both in the outcome of the siege and in promoting Monis’ message?

What about the newspapers that published the photo of the child holding a severed head – isn’t this crossing a line in giving the father attention and also very damaging for the child who they had no hesitation in identifying.

And how about Tony Abbott reading out in Parliament details from a video that had been made by two young men threatening to stab the kidneys and necks of a white person.

A high-ranking counter-terrorism officer said they had no idea Mr Abbott would reveal so much detail about the video and that it could potentially prejudice the court case.

NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham, SC, said if the matter went to trial, the court might find it “impossible” to empanel a jury unaffected by the comments.

“That could even mean the men would not receive a fair trial because the jury has already made up its mind,” she told ABC Radio.

Every day we are told exactly what the government is doing. How many passports have been cancelled, how many are fighting overseas, how many are suspected of aiding and abetting them, up to the point of showing maps of where they live during a photo shoot at ASIO headquarters. Since when did intelligence and police headquarters become television sets and photographic studios?

The Murdoch papers are full of photos of terrorists and their actions. Abbott and his chorus line are daily telling us everything they can think of about national security and terrorism even to the point of making stuff up. Abbott feeds into the mystique by his refusal to temper his language despite being advised that he is adding to the problem. He likes the sound of “apocalyptic death cult” – bugger the consequences.

Tony Abbott’s hysteria over Zaky Mallah has made him a household name. His public condemnation of the ABC has led to death threats and ABC employees being put in real danger.

So back to my question.

Why are we giving a very public platform to terrorists and detailing in the media every move we are making to combat them? Perhaps our newly appointed (by Abbott) Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, could explain why talking about asylum seekers is forbidden but telling IS our every move is OK. Or newly appointed (by Abbott) head of the AFP, Andrew Colvin, in one of his many press conferences standing in front of flags with the PM, could explain why they have taken to filming covert operations to supply to the media and are happy to release the details of suspects, their families and addresses to the press before any charges are laid let alone trials concluded. Or newly appointed (by Abbott) head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, could discuss the advisability of engaging in photo shoots at intelligence headquarters with sensitive documents on display when the alert level is high.

Cynical? Moi?



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  1. babyjewels10

    Cynical? You and me both.

  2. Colin

    The explanations you seek in the penultimate paragraph of your article are unlikely to come unless you or John Kelly or one of the AIM crew, or the Independent Australia or New Matilda (or similar ilk) crew join the Canberra press gallery, because otherwise the questions simply won’t get asked. The current press pack can’t cut it.

  3. corvus boreus

    You raise a very valid point, Kaye Lee.
    The degree of security classification being applied to non-war operation involving the interception and outsourced offshore incarceration of civilian asylum seekers(or ‘unauthorised entries’) is far greater than that regarding our intentions and movements in actual military matters(‘humanitarian missions’ supplying and deploying munitions and ‘combat advisors’; ie going to WAR).
    Yet another layer of stoopid.

  4. Möbius Ecko

    Let’s not forget that Abbott in opposition demanded that the Labor government be open and transparent about their on water asylum seeker activities. He insisted there be daily public briefs detailing numbers, incidents, the lot.

    Yet another example of his blatant double standards.

  5. keerti

    Cynical? Cynicism is aword applied to those amongst us who see more clearly than the “norm.”

  6. John Kelly

    Colin, I am a qualified journalist and would give up my retirement and work for nothing to get onto the Canberra Press Gallery. If you know a way, let me know.

  7. Colin

    Sorry, John, I have a lot of ideas (some good, some not so good), but as to how to get in to the Canberra Press Gallery I have no clue. It’s a shame that it seems to be a closed shop.

    Perhaps if Lieutenant General Campbell and/or Andrew Colvin could get on the Q & A panel, you could get into the audience and ask Kaye’s questions 🙂

  8. mmc1949

    Abbott is putting out the welcome mat for nutters of any and every stripe. Then he can tell us “Told you so.” Whose side is he on, we might well ask. He’s evil, no other word will suffice.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Four Corners last night showed just what a joke politics is in this country. Whilst the system of political donations remains, our politicians are owned, but I didn’t realise it was by organised crime. This MUST stop!

  10. Owen

    I am still livered that Scott Morrison has blocked me from commenting on his FB site when he was immigration minister for asking a question,.”When is it OK to abuse Children?”, I never got a reply….But I am still blocked even on his new portfolio as well.!….So from my experience and observation is they will elude from answering anything that does not give them praise on their so called public pages .Cynicism is a must…

  11. Loz

    Cynical? me too, but also angry, very angry at this lying, cheating, immoral government. My greatest fear at this moment in time is that this government may get re-elected.

  12. Kaye Lee


    I have started my personal campaign by talking to every young person I know about the importance of their vote.

  13. townsvilleblog

    lol Kaye, secrecy much in the order of another right wing extremist regime in Germany in the 1930s this is how it starts, Australia has never seen anything quite as totalitarian as the Abbott extremist LNP government, and to be honest, I hope we never do see their like again in future.

  14. mars08

    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security…”

  15. David

    The workings of a physco narcissist mind are not a closed shop by intention. No point of being in love with oneself and no one knowing about it. abbott may be mad but its a clever, sneaky, shrewd mad some of the time. What is never in doubt, he is a dangerous unpredictable person and any similar individual who publicly displays the obvious mental deficiencies abbott does, employed in a lesser capacity would be under intense medical observation. In abbotts case the law enforcement agencies of the land ‘should’ be intensely observant ‘not’ complicit.

  16. Kaye Lee

    “Am I the only person who isn’t cringing in fear, looking for a rock to hide under and hoping Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton will save us from the tide of terrorism surging towards our shores?

    As is their wont, the media are enthusiastically indulging our desire to dwell on all the gruesome details of a spate of terrorist acts in faraway countries of which we know little.

    But this seemingly innocent nosiness is leaving us with a quite exaggerated impression of the chances of our ever coming into contact with such an event.

    Would you say our Prime Minister is seeking to calm our overblown fears or is playing them for all he’s worth?

    Precisely. And I’ll tell you why. Because he’s discovered he’s not much chop at leadership – at inspiring us with a vision of a better future, at explaining and justifying necessary but unpopular measures – but he is good at running scare campaigns, to which the Aussie punter seems particularly susceptible.

    But, above all, because he wants to divert our attention from the hash he’s making of managing the economy.”

  17. David

    It is reassuring to see the polls not apparently being influenced by his terror campaign. Essential today showing no movement with Labor 54 to LNP 46. That is exactly the margin abbott won in 2013 by lies, deception and fear. Exactly the method he is employing again. As Kaye Lee says “he isn’t much good at anything else”. Shortens numbers are down again, he is not liked generally now, So labor are maintaining their lead despite Shorten.
    My increasing apprehension shared by many, he will manufacture a terrorist act, if the polls don’t move in his favour. The current rhetoric he is using it seems to me, is almost a dare to IS to have a go. I believe he is that unbalanced.
    Hope I am wrong, not convinced.

  18. AndrewL

    When Abbott has the power to enable ASIS to break clear international laws by paying people smugglers with bags full of Aussie taxpayer dollars to turn boats full of asylum seekers to Indonesia even when they were not heading for Australia, it is merely a side step to get them to either directly fake a terrorist attack or pay someone to incite it. I can’t understand why the LNP and ASIS haven’t been brought to account for these immoral acts. We need some fresh politicians that can start the process of winding back and over-sighting these organisations that act on behalf of the decent people of Australia.

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