One lesson we should all take from the Royal Commission into Insititutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse is the horrific ongoing damage caused by the veil of secrecy drawn by the Catholic Church, and others, over the crimes that were being perpetrated on innocent children in their care. That enabled the abusers to continue.
That same veil of secrecy has been drawn by the government over the plight of people who came to us seeking asylum. Instead of offering sanctuary, we incarcerated them indefinitely causing irreparable damage to children and their families once again.
The corrupt Nauruan government are protecting their biggest money earner by ignoring Australian court orders for medical evacuations and by cancelling the visas of anyone who speaks out about the shocking deterioration of the health of detainees in the squalid, hopeless conditions they are forced to endure. People under our care are dying yet our government washes its hands of any responsibility.
Just as our new PM washes his hands of any responsibility to address the bullying, intimidation, harassment and threats meted out to his own colleagues during the boys’ power play. According to our own baseball-cap-wearing supposedly Christian leader, the curtain has been drawn on that. If the bullies are to wear the consequences of their actions, it will be up to women who are strong enough to sacrifice their careers to expose them – I truly hope they name names.
Despite the obvious atrocious behaviour by our ex-deputy PM, despite an official complaint of sexual harassment and an investigation which found the complainant was “forthright, believable, open” and “genuinely upset” by the incident, the Nationals Party was unable to make a determination. Yet again, “the report will be kept confidential”. Barnaby has not been cleared, but the signal sent is don’t mess with our mate.
The secrecy surrounding government actions has seen them gift money and positions to organisations and individuals with no due process. There are a multitude of phrases they use to justify this lack of transparency, “commercial in confidence” or “national security” being two of their faves.
Just as they resisted a Royal Commission into the banks, the government remains steadfastly against a federal corruption watchdog. Real time reporting of donations is too hard, as is publishing their diaries so we could see what they are actually doing to earn their enormous salaries, not to mention who they are meeting with and what influence they may be exerting (and whether that flight, comcar and accommodation charge was actually work-related).
We pay a fortune to consultants to produce reports advising the government yet the government can withhold the information if they so choose. The phrase they use there is that it is “a report to government, not by government”, completely ignoring the fact that the public paid for it.
Other organisations who receive funding – be they a charity, union, educational institution, NFP etc – must be open to intense scrutiny. They must have policies and procedures in place to protect staff and clients, transparent complaint handing procedures, and be accountable for every cent they spend.
Whilst ever our government chooses what they will tell us and what they won’t, the appalling behaviour from our politicians won’t change.
Tell us the truth and let us be the judge. You have no right to withhold information that allows us to make informed judgements. You have no right to hide what you are doing with our money or to use it to reward those who may be useful to you. You have no right to manipulate public sentiment with lies. That is what bullies do. And you reward that behaviour and empower them by your silence.
Transparent and accountable is what you promised.