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Public interest be damned

The notion of “public interest” has been officially abandoned. The interests of the government are now paramount and they intend to keep a very tight control on information whilst being selectively ruthless about who they pursue.

In 2006, Lateline aired a program called Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous community in which an unnamed youth worker made sensational allegations – except it turned out he was actually a public servant who was working for Mal Brough. The “evidence’ was shown to be false though not before allowing Brough and Howard to instigate the NT Intervention.

Tjanara Goreng Goreng, an Aboriginal woman who became a whistleblower in debunking the story, had her home raided by Australian Federal Police. She was subsequently prosecuted and convicted for releasing Commonwealth information, and bankrupted as a result of a substantial legal bill.

Gregory Andrews, the Brough adviser who lied on national television with such devastating consequences for Indigenous communities, was given a job as CEO for the government-funded Indigenous Community Volunteers before being appointed as the Abbott Government’s new ‘Threatened Species Commissioner’.

When a whistleblower revealed the illegal conduct of the Australian government in bugging the parliamentary offices of officials in Timor l’Este to gain commercial advantage, his passport was confiscated to stop him testifying at the Hague and Brandis is seeking to prosecute both the whistleblower and his lawyer.

In 2014, the university student who helped expose a secret scholarship awarded to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s daughter Frances Abbott faced jail time for hacking work computers to expose that the Prime Minister’s daughter paid just over $7,000 for her $68,000 degree, and received the scholarship after just one meeting with Whitehouse Institute owner Leanne Whitehouse.

The judge accepted that twenty-one-year old Freya Newman was “motivated by a sense of injustice” and put her on a two year good behaviour bond.

Also in 2014, Scott Morrison suggested that Save the Children workers on Nauru had orchestrated a campaign to undermine the Government’s offshore detention policy and summarily sacked them. He then launched an investigation that found that there was never any evidence of reliable information on which to base the actions taken by the department. In fact it went further and found that “the decision maker did not act in good faith.”

There were also the shameful attacks on Gillian Triggs for drawing attention to the plight of children in detention – attacks which Australia’s peak law bodies and academics called a threat to democracy.

When a Labor Senator starts asking uncomfortable questions about the rollout of the NBN, the AFP decides to raid his office and the homes of his staffers, allowing confidential documents to be photographed and leaked to the complainant.

But if you are Mal Brough, Wyatt Roy, Christopher Pyne, James Ashby or Karen Doane, carry on undeterred. (It will be interesting to see if the recent decision to allow the police to use Ashby’s phone records sees any progress on a case which should have been finished years ago.)

If you are leaking national security documents, don’t be worried. All things defence are OK to talk about. With the possible exception of Stuart Robert, the assistant minister who took his mate to China pretending he was representing the government to help him win a contract, the MP who used his ‘fundraising body’ to donate towards the campaign of supposedly ‘independent’ local councillors, the guy the AFP are ‘looking into’, the guy who will recontest the seat of Fadden at the next federal election.

Whilst Peter Slipper has had his life destroyed, Bronwyn Bishop will not be investigated further.

As Craig Thomson continues to lurch from one court case to the next, Justice Dyson Heydon says of Kathy Jackson that she “was instrumental in revealing the conduct of Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson to the authorities. For this she is owed much praise.”

Kathy continues to live the high life with partner and Abbott appointee Michael Lawler who, after a damning report into his fraudulent claim for nine months sick leave while he worked on Kathy’s case, was allowed to resign rather than be sacked, presumably so he can still claim his $250,000-a-year statutory pension.

It is increasingly apparent that transparent accountable government is a fantasy under the Coalition government who will protect themselves and their mates at all costs and who will do anything to discredit anyone who challenges them.

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  1. Matters Not

    Stuart Robert, not content with ‘international’ corruption. is now ‘vertically integrated’ with dodgy donations exposed at the local government level as well.

    GOLD Coast MP Stuart Robert stormed off when questioned about the Trojan council scandal yesterday, refusing to discuss his donations to LNP-aligned candidates who ran as independents.

    The Bulletin tried to speak with Mr Robert after he attended the opening of the Gold Coast International Marine Expo but he was in no mood to talk.

    “I’m done. I’m done speaking to (you),” Mr Robert said.

    “I’m not speaking to you. You got it? Is it clear as?”

    The Gold Coast Bulletin reported yesterday that Gold Coast council candidate Felicity Stevenson was back working for Mr Robert after her unsuccessful election bid.

    Mr Robert’s Fadden Forum gave $30,000 in campaign funding to Ms Stevenson but she did not declare her LNP links to voters, telling them she was running as an independent.

    When will they ever learn? Lies and then more lies.

  2. Wayne Turner

    Good article,and all so true. This is what happens when you have the Liberal party in cohorts and bed with both the Main Stream Media & AFP,among others.

    We are NOT,and have NOT been a democracy for a long while.More than ever it can be publically seen,if people just “open their eyes”.

    Instead we are a “mediaocracy” – The MSM will decide who governs this country,and the circumstances in which they govern.If the MSM don’t get their way,they will sook and LIE until they do (normally at the next election).

  3. Kaye Lee

    One thing that is really important to me is the truth (and let’s not get into esoteric discussions about ‘one man’s truth’). I always try to be factual and want to know if I make a mistake – I much prefer to learn than insist I am right. It is an integral part of who I am. As a child I used the extremely annoying retort of “prove it” far too often.

    So when I see the people who are telling the truth being punished and the liars and rorters being rewarded it makes my blood boil. When the government deliberately withholds information from us it infuriates me. They don’t own the Treasury – WE do! They don’t own the reports we pay for – WE do! They have no right to decide what they will or won’t tell us. Just tell us the truth!

    I am sick to death of the inadequate people we elect using their time in office to reward their benefactors in the hope of personal gain either now or in the future. For Coalition politicians particularly, but not exclusively, public service has come to mean rorting the public to service your own desires.

  4. Miriam English

    If Labor get in it is imperative they fix the problems with the media, otherwise it might be the very last time we ever get a government representing the people… without a revolution that is, and judging by the way we Australians are so laid-back, I can’t really see that ever happening.

    If Labor get in and make the mistake of not fixing the media they will be out again at the very next election… probably forever.

    We desperately need mainstream media that report the actual news, not a litany of smears, and not to ignore injustice and lies. If we had reliable mainstream media the LNP couldn’t get away with any of this crap.

  5. David Evans

    Somebody at the door Kaye!

  6. townsvilleblog

    ….and the tories are still looking after their mates in corporate Australia, who should be paying tens of billions of dollars every year in taxation, but don’t. If they did the revenue would be there for Medicare and other social programs that the LNP are constantly cutting. Does anyone have a theory as to why working class Australians vote for the LNP?

  7. Kaye Lee

    I have a long standing agreement with readers that if I type the word “bananas” it means the white van has pulled up outside 🙂

    Before the last election, my facebook account was suspended for a month for no reason. It was one of the catalysts for me to start writing here. I have been banned from my local members page and from many others like George Christensen and Scott Morrison. What they don’t realise is how much I hate it when people try to shut me up. The more they try, the louder I get.

  8. FreeThinker

    Step by step, this nation is gradually assuming the character of a military police state, under this appalling Coalition Abbott-Turnbull government.

    Be it the Border Force, the security staff employed in asylum detention centres, the increased funding going to the military, the AFP, or the need for increased employees in the privately run prisons ( with prison rates increasing), or the expansion of ASIO operatives, under recent draconian laws, under this government, thus is where the richest possibilities for jobs and growth lie.

    The recent developments around the NBN are really just one point in a disturbing emerging political culture.

    Thanks Kaye for so clearly articulating these developments so clearly.

  9. Terry2

    i still believe that the Freya Newman revelation of the Whitehous Institute’s $60,000 gift to the Abbott family – also known as a targeted scholarship – is linked to the blowout in dodgy private college courses and the rorting of the HECS-HELP schemes which were allowed to run rampant with minimal supervision or regulation under the Abbott regime.

    They knew there was a problem : for heaven’s sake every shopping mall in the land was alive with students signing up all and sundry for government funded loans for spurious vocational courses.

  10. doobasdad

    Kaye, all of this makes me more depressed. The worst of all is the Libs love of warfare, which has robbed Australians of billions that could have been used for health related funding, and has cost the lives of many of our youth, Bob Menzies and his “reds under the bed” , leading to our involvement with the Korean war. 7,000 Australians served in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, and they suffered 339 dead, and 1200 wounded. Why? Harold Holt with “all the way with LBJ”, that embroiled us in Vietnam. More billions wasted on a myth, “the domino theory”, Then Howards’s, lying, “weapons of mass destruction”, which lead us into Iraq and beyond. How many billions wasted? One guesstimate, $5BN but who knows? Our current excursion into Syria and Iraq is estimated at $m400 PA. But like the Fraudband, the true figure will never be known.

    The conservatives are a scourge on this nation and will remain so.

  11. Lindsay Stafford

    @ doobasdad.
    It is not only the direct cost of the war, it is the indirect cost that continues ad infinitum.
    As a taxi driver in a large regional centre, my daily take relied heavily on DVA transport. Much of this was involved in taking either a veteran (from vietnam and later) or a war widow (from WW2 and later) to the hospital, chiropractor, doctor, gymnasium or home from same.
    I am not saying that we should not take care of the veterans/widows, we as a nation entered into a agreement with them to do just that. It is that these ongoing costs are never factored in.

  12. John Cary

    Love your work Kaye Lee & generally share it, wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if your internet “problems” stem from your holding the pollies to account. Keep up the good work!

  13. Kaye Lee

    That is chicken feed compared to the over $195 billion to be spent over the next decade on war toys. And that is on top of the annual defence budget that they want to grow to 2% of GDP whether we need it or not.

    If you want to get truly depressed (or angry) have a look in this document at the eye-watering amounts to be spent on the “proposed future force”. (6 different areas)

    A couple of years ago, we had to blow up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of missiles because they didn’t fit our new planes. They had never shot one of them.

    Our submarines are supposedly used for surveillance. I would have thought drones and satellites and radar could achieve that. China has over 70 submarines now and the capacity to build more whenever they want. Us getting a few in decades time is pointless as a defence strategy. Besides, we do war games with them and they own our ports and an increasing amount of our real estate, resources and agricultural land. Why would they attack something they can buy for much cheaper than a war costs and without opposition?

  14. Janet Simpson

    There is also the example of our stealing the oil in the Timor Sea from the most impoverished nation in the world…Timor L’Este. How we can seek a role at the UN, much less in the Human Rights area, is beyond me.

  15. Jexpat

    Thanks for that concise and well documented piece.

    I’ve been on about the hypocrisy in this for couple of days now, while of course, having emphasizing the appalling situation with the NBN (our area has been in the midst of the roll out- and “appalling” is not an exaggeration for what’s been occurring).

  16. Michael

    Kaye Lee – it is refreshing and inspiring to be in the same room.

    Transparency = self-sanitising
    Accountability = character building

    LNP as a vertically integrated multi-level political machine have neither.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Again Kaye,

    you superbly tie the ties damning the LNP Degenerates’ MALpractices and the AFP’s prejudicial onslaught on opponents to the LNP Degenerates while ignoring the LNP Degenerates’ wrongs.

    When the LNPees lose on 2 July 2016, I want the New Reform Government to shove dishonourable dismissals up every AFP officers’ arses, especially their boss’, Andrew Colvin.

  18. mark dickenson

    Hello to everyone at “The Aim Network” I’m pretty new to all this social media interaction oblivious to your existence until Jennifer Meyer Smith gave me a gentle nudge into the age of #innovation. I’m currently pretty busy earning a wage by day and campaigning morning noon & night. I am intending to run for the Senate as an Independent in the federal election in Victoria. I’m not a career politician. I’m an average family man with a steadily growing concern about the state of our parliamentary system and it’s surroundings. I have a real social aspect to my positions on most issues. This comes through life experience in some cases. Others just through using the eyes I was fortunate enough to be given. I’m not religious. Although I respect those who are. I don’t have a Ph.D. but I am comfortable talking with those who do. I’m not a likely victor, but I’m not giving up. I want the best for my nation. I want to catch people that fall. I want to solve issues that are ignored. I want to give average people a voice in parliament & if necessary on the steps like the old days. If you want to know what my position is on most issues my twitter feed is a good place to look. @bugwannostra is my twitter handle or Have a great weekend, regards Mark Dickenson.

  19. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good on you, Mark.

    We need many more new non-career pollies like you.

  20. Miriam English

    Expect politicians in the two main parties (especially LNP) to be more and more misleading as we approach the election. Here is a very short video (3½mins) by author John Green on ways politicians misuse language:

    A Brief History of the Non-Denial Denial

  21. Dr Bones Snr

    Sitting in Maccas eating breakfast the other day and reading the Courier Mail which someone had left on the table. I don’t normally read newspapers so I had no idea of the extent of the corruption blatantly unfolding before me. I couldn’t find one positive article about any independent, Labor, Greens, PUP, etc, election candidate. Yet every piece of drivel dribbling from the mouth of anyone connected to the LNP was extoled as words from the messiah himself.

    How can anyone believe this rubbish, how can our collective intelligence have sunk so low?

  22. Vince O'Grady

    Thanks for your article Kaye Lee. It’s been an interesting last couple of days. The offices and Homes of labor people have been raided and no one seems to admit they knew anything about these things, Yet Turnbull claimed that the documents had never been tabled in parliament and that they were “clearly” stolen. If you look at the Raid and the subsequent sealing of the evidence gathered during the raid after privilege was claimed, How could he know any of these things.

    Likewise Mathias Cormann this morning on insiders claimed that the documents contained Intellectual property and were commercial in confidence as well. How can both of these senior Government people know these facts if they didn’t know anything about the investigation and the evidence gathered was actually sealed as soon as it was gathered.

    Like you I believe in the truth being told and it ain’t being told here.

    I tweeted all of the Turnbull statements to several prominent Journalists last night and today. They seem not to get the idea that if they didn’t know about the investigation and the raids then it follows that the documents gathered and sealed immediately would also be out of their knowledge. Yet they just say nothing about this glaring Knowledge of the documents and what they contain and what happened to them in parliament.

    I agree with another comment here. If Labor win they really need to shake up the Media. This pathetic coverage is not good enough.

    I think Michael Taylor made the best comment on my FB page today. “Vince, there’s a simple explanation: they’re all liars.”

    I think Michael nailed it.

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    The New Alliance Government of Labor, Greens, Progressive Parties and Independents must shake up the media and examine how they can eliminate or significantly restrict Murdoch’s media licenses.

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