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We have a right to know

On Sunday, the Guardian reported that Médecins Sans Frontières has been denied access to asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island in order to assess their health and wellbeing, despite having been granted approval from PNG immigration earlier in the week.

Whilst it is unclear just who is giving the orders, this is typical of our government who, far from delivering the transparency and accountability they promised, increasingly hide from any scrutiny of what they are doing.

The same day, the SMH reported that the government has quietly changed the publicly available information about school funding to exclude specifics about how much individual religious schools are receiving whilst retaining the breakdown for public and most other independent schools.

More secrecy surrounds the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility which has refused to comment publicly on projects it is assessing, or applications it has received, citing commercial-in-confidence, despite the Productivity Commission warning of possible political interference in the fund’s investment decisions. Even the NAB submitted that the fund’s confidentiality practices must be “balanced with the public’s interest in NAIF’s developments”.

The same excuse is used to refuse calls to identify what exactly we are selling to Saudi Arabia in Christopher Pyne’s push to make us a major arms exporter despite such information being available from other countries who sell weapons into the region.

Amin Saikal, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University, points out the folly of Pyne’s push.

Minister Pyne’s ambitions are totally misplaced in relation to the Middle East, and all concerned parties inside and outside of the government should resist such a miscalculated step. Canberra will do well to invest effort in helping the growth of conditions that could bring about cooperation rather than fuelling hostilities and adding firepower to the region.

Just as disturbing is the government’s use of our security forces to protect their secrets as shown by the ASIO raid on the office of the lawyer representing Timor l’Este in their prosecution of Australia for, ironically, illegally bugging their parliamentary offices to gain a commercial advantage.

Likewise, the AFP were called in to raid the office of Stephen Conroy and the home of a staffer when they had the temerity to tell us the truth about the NBN debacle.

And we never did actually find out if Australian intelligence agents paid people smugglers to return refugees to Indonesia because we don’t talk about “operational matters”.

One thing this government excels at is calling for endless inquiries and reviews but they feel under no obligation to release their findings saying they are “advice to government, not by government”. Perhaps if they were paying for it out of their own money that would be acceptable but when it is paid for by public money, we have a right to know the results.

The Department of Education has refused to provide access to modelling the department has done on the impact of fee deregulation on university students and the higher education sector.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has declined to detail the economic modelling of his Government’s company tax cuts because he says it does not matter to people in the pub.

Even when they release the headline findings, further examination shows just how dishonest this can be.

For example, when questioned about unreleased Government modelling putting the cost of state based renewable targets at $41 billion, the Department of Environment and Energy confirmed that the modelling did not estimate the jobs to be created from $41 billion of new renewable energy investment, and that the Government did not model the cost of replacing aging coal fired power stations set to retire in coming years with non-renewable generation.

Whilst the smallest alleged transgressions by unions are broadcast from the rooftops, government corruption and corporate malfeasance are protected from scrutiny as evinced by the suppression order issued by the court (since removed after Wikileaks blew the whistle) forbidding the Australian media from making any mention of the ongoing corruption case involving RBA subsidiary Securency.

Even more incomprehensible is the government’s obdurate refusal to conduct an inquiry into the banks. The assertion that it would undermine confidence is ludicrous. The repeated wrongdoing by the banks is already in the public domain. If they have eliminated bad practice surely they could confidently show how. Investors should be encouraged knowing that financial institutions are being held to account.

These are just a few examples of how this government treats the people who elected them with contempt, how they spend our money with no accountability, and how they protect their own.

As Lord Acton said, “Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show it can bear discussion and publicity.”



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  1. jim

    Love your work, another day another story on the slime that call themselves the Liberal party.

  2. Terry2

    In September we were told :

    The Commonwealth Bank has warned that it could take three months to file its defence against allegations that it breached anti-money laundering laws on almost 54,000 occasions.

    Lawyers for the Federal Government’s financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC agreed that the CBA’s three-month deadline is warranted due to the extent of the case against Australia’s biggest bank.

    Apart from casinos the challenge for crime syndicates is to get drug money laundered and into the banking system and now we know that the banking system were actually facilitating the laundering process.

    Thanks for that expose Kaye, it seems that when the coalition talk about cutting red-tape they are actually encouraging secrecy and obfuscation.

  3. Florence nee Fedup

    If they are now not in detention, why does government block these doctors. #auspol

  4. Freethinker

    Perhaps Brandis soon will say that things are no disclosed because security issues?

  5. James

    Two words spring to mind in regards to the insipid politicians of our once great nation…Federal ICAC, or open rebellion, I hope for the former but I wouldn’t rule out the latter, well written Kaye

  6. Kaye Lee

    A great video…thanks for sharing jim

  7. Miriam English

    That really says something doesn’t it: this government is scared of the truth.

  8. Harquebus

    Just more evidence of a system in decline. Wouldn’t want alarm the public nor spook the markets with the truth now would we?
    Will the Labor Party be any different? Somehow, I don’t think so. My state Labor government, South Australia, is very good at keeping things secret.

  9. jimhaz

    Shorten and Plibersek also seem to be a secret opposition. They haven’t been kidnapped have they?

  10. king1394

    There’s only one reason for secrecy. They have something to hide

  11. Kaye Lee

    It is excruciating listening to this government. They say a RC into the banks would cost a lot of money and achieve nothing other than lining the pockets of lawyers. Funny how they didn’t think when they had a RC into the home insulation program, the 9th such inquiry, or yet another RC into unions. The banks have paid compensation and fines of over $1 billion far exceeding any union punishment. They also called a RC into youth detention having ignored all the recommendations from previous inquiries into aboriginal deaths in custody.

  12. Archaic

    A Royal Commission was justified into a government-subsidized insulation program in which four men died and others were injured.

    We have a government-instituted program of offshore detention of refugees in which at least one man has been murdered, another died due to delayed medical treatment of a minor injury. At least 6 have committed suicide while in detention, and more have committed suicide while in the community, such as on bridging visas, due to fear of negative refugee assessments, being returned to immigration detention, or being returned to their country of origin (Source: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/thebordercrossingobservatory/publications/australian-border-deaths-database)

    Surely a Royal Commission into DIBP and our offshore detention program is necessary. The responsible ministers, Morrison and Dutton, have each made false claims such as about the actions of Save The Children staff, the background and cause of attacks on the detention centre, and the standard of the accommodation to which detainees were recently forcibly moved. They have lost all credibility. We need to know the truth of what is being done in our name.

    Or do the lives of some people count for more than others, and even then only for political gain?

  13. totaram

    Jimhaz: The only people who get kidnapped are those whose incomes are revealed to be very high. Hence the need to keep some of them secret, as ensured by recent changes to the laws. I’m sure Labor politicians are not in that league. Perhaps you feel they have been kidnapped because the MSM do not give them much oxygen. The solution might be to get your news from multiple sources which tend to cancel out each others’ biases. Personally, I’m very happy with the bias of the AIMN. Cheers!

  14. jimhaz

    [Perhaps you feel they have been kidnapped because the MSM do not give them much oxygen.]

    I am uncertain as to how far this lack of oxygen extends. Is it solely the MSM not reporting, or it is that these two ALPers are not saying anything that is of interest. If the later the low profile “just let the LNP-destroy itself” gameplay is totally pathetic.

    I think they are toffs and always knew Plibersek was going to be useless.

  15. Kyran

    Sooo, wait a minute. We are being kept in the dark?
    Everybody’s best friend, the wailing banshee of the west, or one of them, is denying a FOI request about communications between her department and the ROC for good reason. It is currently under investigation (albeit by one of the participants, the partisan AFP) so any release of correspondence may compromise the investigation.
    Pigs loaded, ready for launch.
    She has lost another staff member, but fret not. He already has a job lined up. She is, after all, the Minister for Employment.
    “Senior adviser Simon Berger resigned from Cash’s office in recent weeks, after working in parliament for nearly four years. BuzzFeed News has confirmed Berger commenced his new job as the deputy federal director of the Liberal Party on Monday.”

    “The employment minister’s office refused to confirm the existence, or release, communications between Cash, her staff, and other key players in the scandal over Cash’s office leaking information about the raid.
    It has been 34 days since Cash fronted the employment committee to answer questions about the matter. At the last meeting, she sent attorney-general George Brandis in her place.
    She is due to appear on Friday.”


    “The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash has released the Workplace Gender and Equality Strategy final report, building on the Government’s efforts to increase gender equality in the workplace.”


    Hmmmm. What would a minister for equality do if there was a vote on marriage equality? Voting ‘No’ would have been a bad look, presumably. So she abstained.
    It’s a bit like the ‘work for the dole’ programs, which can be fatal; or the dearth of information on the internship program; or the wealth of information available on genuine unemployment and under employment figures.
    More pigs loaded, ready for launch.
    Or there’s bananas. With rumours swirling about all manner of things associated with who is funding his election campaign (amongst other things), he has gone in to witness protection and ‘declines to comment’. During his election campaign, brought on by his stupidity and now treated with his contempt for his electorate.
    They seem to believe we either do not have a right to know, or they will decide what questions will be answered and the circumstances under which they will be answered.
    Transparency? Accountability? If nothing else, this ‘government’ has created incredible demand in the agriculture industry. We are going to need more pigs and they are going to fly more often.
    Thank you Ms Lee and commenters. We gotta ways to go yet. Take care

  16. Rob

    As a former immigration employee, PRE Homeland security and Dutton. immi as we called it was always politicised The powers to be in my time Ruddock and Vanstone. Reith had his piece of the action as well. immi or DHS which sounds like a badly run Department Store is a shameful vindictive place to work. The liberals have gone to town on control, power and the continuing blood lust to control and remain in said power.
    The LNP have been and will continue to be awful in government, they have lost their way, if they ever had a way, I think they make it up as they go along or have help via ‘Phone A Friend”
    Turnbull has announced ‘his’ ROC into the banks. A spectacular backflip. not up to Torvill n Dean standards not a perfect 10, no where near. Hang on for more mis-adventures with the liberals and its only 30th November 2017. Damage control is not an LNP strong point. PS Michaelya Cash should be removed from her portfolio immediately, there are many others in the same position who are under performing and walking mistakes in action. Cop ya later 🙂

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