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Why whistleblowing spies have to go to the media

The whistleblower in the East Timor spying case tried to use internal mechanisms to raise concerns, and was ignored. They’re now under fire for going public. Well, what were they supposed to do?

notebook

As the United States-style war on whistleblowers and journalists ramps up in Australia, one of the key myths about national security whistleblowers has taken another hammering.

A persistent argument by politicians and friendly national security-aligned journalists is that whistleblowers who go to the media do so unnecessarily, because there are “internal mechanisms” for whistleblowing. In fact, such mechanisms are usually deliberate dead ends. Several former NSA officials have detailed their years-long efforts to raise concerns about criminal conduct, incompetence and misappropriation within that agency — in one case, a failed project by SAIC costing hundreds of millions of dollars — to no avail.

Today Fairfax’s Tom Allard has revealed how the Australian Secret Intelligence Service whistleblower at the centre of the 2004 Timor-Leste spying operation tried to raise their concerns about the matter with the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, but was rebuffed.

Yesterday Labor and the Coalition combined in the Senate to block a Greens motion that Attorney-General George Brandis explain the raids on the Canberra lawyer representing Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor), Bernard Collaery, and the whistleblower — after which the whistleblower’s passport was seized to prevent them from travelling to The Hague, where Timor-Leste’s case against Australia is being heard. But Brandis took advantage of an intervention by Labor veteran John Faulkner, who suggested that while it was long-standing policy that demands for information about ASIO or ASIS not be answered, it was open for a minister to seek leave to make a statement on national security.

Accordingly, Brandis rose before question time to comment further, although not much further, on the circumstances of the raids, noting that they had been initiated by ASIO, not by him, and criticising Collaery. Signally, however, he said nothing about the circumstances of the raid on the former ASIS official (which was reported to have included listening to their music collection for hidden messages) or the removal of their passport to prevent them from travelling.

The Timor-Leste matter is now sufficiently concerning that some form of inquiry is surely appropriate: it appears that ASIS has been used by the Howard government to bug the cabinet rooms of the Timor-Leste government — under the guise of an aid program — in a way intended to assist both Australia and resources giant Woodside over resources negotiations with that government, while the minister in charge of ASIS at that time, Alexander Downer, is now working for Woodside. Moreover, the head of ASIS at the time is now the head of ASIO, which has undertaken actions seemingly intended to damage the Timor-Leste case relating to that bugging just days before an international tribunal begins hearing the dispute.

There is, however, no mechanism for an inquiry. Labor is refusing to countenance any inquiry into the behaviour of ASIS. And as Crikey noted yesterday, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has not been reappointed three months after the election. Labor’s frustration at the government’s foot-dragging on JCIS — which unlike most parliamentary committees is a statutory committee, required under the Intelligence Services Act — that Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon rose near the end of question time to ask the Prime Minister when it would be re-established. “This week,” Abbott said.

In order to fulfil that self-imposed deadline, the government needs to finalise the committee membership today, because the committee doesn’t exist until Parliament establishes it. The two key questions are whether Independent Andrew Wilkie will remain on the committee as one of the non-government members, and whether Liberal Philip Ruddock — a national security hardliner with a long record of attacking civil liberties when attorney-general — will be re-appointed and thus become chair.

In the meantime some lessons have emerged from the Timor-Leste case. Other countries in the region should now be suspicious of the delivery of the Australian aid program, given we know it has been used by ASIS to spy. And whistleblowers are certainly wasting their time trying to air legitimate concerns via the “internal mechanisms” established by governments.

30
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Is there anything Downer has touched that he hasn’t turned to a turd?

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    He’s even touched Labor’s ethics?

  • 3
    bluepoppy
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Whistleblower protections are highly inadequate in the APS, serving more to throw the complainant into the lion’s den.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    As you say, one thing all these “developing countries” that we “helped out” (while helping ourselves?) should have remembered was “Beware of sneaks bearing grifts”?

  • 5
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Too true, BK. Whistleblowers have a tradition of being royally shafted in Oz.

    - Former customs officer, Allan Kessing, suffered for raising security concerns.

    - Andrew Wilkie was jobless and sidelined after exposing the Office of National Assessments’ lack of evidence of nuclear armament prior to our immoral invasion of Iraq.

    Whistleblowers either need to be crazy or extremely brave.

  • 6
    Daly
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The whole treaty was a disgrace.
    A rich developed Australia used its might to negotiate a new,fragile, war torn and poverty stricken undeveloped Timor Leste into a raw deal. We don’t need half of their rightful entitlement or control over what Woodside chooses to do and when. They needed the royalties to make a big difference.
    Nothing has happened since so they have got nothing. The fact that we have had a monster mining boom in the meantime shows them what they missed out on.

  • 7
    Ian
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Liberal and Labor working together to block a motion to explain the raids? That’s no surprise at all. If we want a decent country with a decent foreign policy and one that is independent of multinationals and the US hegemony we need to turf both parties out.

    There is nothing inevitable about the way our governments behave.

  • 8
    MJPC
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Ian, I am with you. ASIS ansd ASIO have been around the US for too long, they have learned CIA dirty tricks along the way. They wall work for the corporations, not for the populace. Let’s have a royal commission and call Woodside to account also; Revolution Now!

  • 9
    Bruce Roberts
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    There is, however, no mechanism for an inquiry. Labor is refusing to countenance any inquiry into the behaviour of ASIS”

    There’s that bipartisanship trick again. It works every time.

    When Australian foreign policy is identical to US foreign policy, then that’s what you get.

    The Coalition and the Labor party might argue and dispute about periphial issues like expense accounts and swearing in public, but on the key issues that effect US relations and US global foreign policy they are mute.

  • 10
    Bruce Roberts
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    …that’s mute, bipartisan and very gutless.

  • 11
    Rod Marr
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    ” while the minister in charge of ASIS at that time, Alexander Downer, is now working for Woodside”

    Says it all, does n’t it? A puppet of the Corporatocracy membership has now actually gone beyond lobbying to being “officially” employed by that member.

    Hired gunslingers were a dime a dozen in the wild west, but at least they did n’t shoot you in the back like Downer did to the hapless Timorese people.

  • 12
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Imagine the farce any inquiry into Woodside/ASIS on this Timor-Leste scandal would instantly become.

    Hark back to Lord Downer in his star performance at the AWB Royal Commission ie: “I don’t know”, “I can’t recall”, “I don’t remember”, “I can’t be sure of the detail” ad infinitum.

  • 13
    Buddy
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Both major parties are complicit in protecting their corporate self interest ahead of moral governance. Pox on both their houses .

  • 14
    Keith Thomas
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Whistleblowers certainly do face a tough battle in Australia. Even if there are formal ‘protections’ in place, the entire culture up the line from the whistleblower is committed to protecting itself and in a way that make them stand out as praiseworthy to those up the line. The politicians may get protected, but it’s the internal bureaucratic management team that protects itself. And it never forgives someone who attempted to expose something they wanted hidden or undiscussed. Never.

  • 15
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Lord Bunter the Downer used our spooks for a commercial purpose and is now on that entity’s payroll.
    The Customs airport manager who suppressed Kessing’s reports because of the cost to Qantas & the privatised airport corpoation went on to become Qantas’ security officer.
    The ludicrous “reform” of W/B laws proposed by Dreyfus’ 18 month long enquiry laboured (sic!) mightily and prodyuced a dead mouse - civil servants with concerns had to go up the food chain. Great idea - it’s never those up the ladder who are corrupt, incompetent or colluding.
    plus ca bloody change

  • 16
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    @zut alors: “Whistleblowers either need to be crazy or extremely brave.”

    Or extremely naive. I was. I only reported it because the Ombudsman promised me whistleblower protection, and told me I could always go back to them. When things turned nasty, I did and and they left me swinging in the wind: http://victimsofdsto.com/doc/Systemic%20Corruption%20-%20Correspondence%20with%20Ombudsman%20(REDACTED).pdf

    Agencies promise whistleblower protection, and initially look receptive to the whistleblower. Only once the whistleblower has passed the point of no return do they discover complaints units don’t investigate corruption; they cover it up, and the promised whistleblower protection is worthless. (e.g. the CSIRO fired three whistleblowers, but don’t worry, because it was “unrelated” to their whistleblowing. Curiously the people they reported kept their jobs.)

    Once academic told me they concluded internal whistleblowing programs are “honeypots”; they attract potential whistleblowers before they go to the media, and keep them contained. The sad irony in Allan Kessing’s case was that he came under suspicion because he tried to resolve his complaint through legitimate means. After his trial it was revealed that a politician’s office may
    have been the source of the leak (and that whomever did it was prepared to see an innocent man go to jail over it.)

    Problem is apart from a few notable exceptions, the MSM doesn’t report how whistleblowers were treated. They were printing rah-rah pieces about how wonderful Mark Dreyfus’ new whistleblowing laws were last year, but didn’t print dissenting views. http://victimsofdsto.com/psc#wwtw

    The Ombudsman is systemically corrupt. Whistleblowers Australia did a survey and they didn’t encounter a single person who was satisfied with the Ombudsman; some were harmed by them. Yet I’m only aware of *one* story ever reported in the MSM that said this, so most people don’t know.http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/the-security-breach-defence-tried-to-hide/story-fn6ck620-1226287784790

    But word is finally getting out thanks to the Internet, independent media and some notable MSM exceptions (such as
    Adele Ferguson’s reporting of the CBA whistleblowers), and of course Edward Snowden’s story which was too big to bury.

    @Bruce Roberts” “There is, however, no mechanism for an inquiry. Labor is refusing to countenance any inquiry into the behaviour of ASIS”

    Yes, that sounds like Labor: http://pastebin.com/tD8Vd6Vd

    They have learned nothing: http://victimsofdsto.com/#alp

    @Keith Thomas: “Even if there are formal ‘protections’ in place, the entire culture up the line from the whistleblower is committed to protecting itself and in a way that make them stand out as praiseworthy to those up the line.”

    The Defence Whistleblower Policy (PERS 45-5), a good document if they were to follow it, says for a whistleblower scheme to work it needs strong moral leadership at all levels of government.

    @Keith Thomas: “The politicians may get protected, but it’s the internal bureaucratic management team that protects itself.”

    Yes: http://victimsofdsto.com/psc

    @Keith Thomas: “And it never forgives someone who attempted to expose something they wanted hidden or undiscussed. Never.”

    It’s best to whistleblow anonymously (We still don’t know how the APS identified Michaela Banjeri aka @LaLegale; They never told her how they identified her. We suspect it may have been with metadata surveillance.)

    But if you do put a face on your complaint, do it publicly and make sure the whole world knows who you are (like Peter Fox). Whistleblowers are at their most vulnerable when the bad guys know about their complaint and no one else does. Journo’s take a while to get up to speed, so Twitter is your closest friend.

    I did a guide for whistleblowers here: http://victimsofdsto.com/guide/whistleblowers_guide_to_journalists.pdf

    Also Brian Martin at UOW is VP of Whistleblowers Australia, and studies the subject so he knows all the pitfalls.

  • 17
    Bruce Roberts
    Posted Friday, 6 December 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all those links and information, Brendan. It’s staggering stuff.

    ( @Bruce Roberts” “There is, however, no mechanism for an inquiry. Labor is refusing to countenance any inquiry into the behaviour of ASIS” )

    I did n’t write this, it’s a paraphrase from Bernard’s article.

    Cheers

  • 18
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 6 December 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    These “mechanisms” that whistle blowers “can go to with confidence” remind me of those “bomb baskets”, for controlled detonation - therein “minimising fall-out”, less damage?
    After that’s been contained, it’s back to business as usual.

  • 19
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Friday, 6 December 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    >@Bruce Roberts: “Thanks for all those links and information, Brendan. It’s staggering stuff.”

    Thanks, Bruce. The problem is the MSM generally don’t report it, so members of the public don’t find out this stuff until it’s too late. It was interesting that yesterday when The Age reported the CSIRO being a victim of IP theft, they ignored seven cases where the government was the perpetrator.

    I wrote to The Age to ask them why…. Nothing. Meanwhile thanks to the MSM coverage even the BBC has picked up the CSIRO=victim story, but the story of DSTO+CSIRO=perpetrators remains relatively unknown.

    This was my beef with Fairfax; other victims had already approached them over IP thefts, but the editors wouldn’t run the story. So people like me and later victims didn’t know and we ended up walking into a trap.

    Plus one of the great mysteries to me is why Fairfax never followed up on Linton Besser’s stories of public service corruption. Gary Gray attacked the credibility of the stories, and The Canberra Times sided with Gray, downplaying the corruption and *opposing* a Federal ICAC. That was two years ago, and apart from one OP by Stephen Bartos there has been no further mention of it.

    It’s firmly off the public radar. At the Brisbane Political Forum I had an opportunity to ask three candidates what they would do about Commonwealth public service corruption. None had heard anything about it. One candidate said that if there was Commonwealth public service corruption, why wasn’t it in the papers?

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service-keeps-fraud-cases-private-20110923-1kpdr.html
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/federal-agencies-lack-firepower-to-deal-with-fraud-20111003-1l5dt.html
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/our-costly-complacency-on-corruption-20130303-2fe2f.html
    http://victimsofdsto.com/doc/2013-04-27%20Comparison%20of%20statements%20by%20Public%20Service%20Commissioner%20and%20Public%20Service%20Minister%20regarding%20PSA%20Accountability.pdf

    @klewso: “After that’s been contained, it’s back to business as usual.”

    Yep, and it’ll keep happening: http://victimsofdsto.com/psc/

    >@Bruce Roberts: “I didn’t write …, it’s a paraphrase from Bernard’s article.”

    Thanks for clarifying.

  • 20
    Bruce Roberts
    Posted Friday, 6 December 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    .” One candidate said that if there was Commonwealth public service corruption, why wasn’t it in the papers?”

    Bwahahahaha!…OMG!Unfortunately, this par for course and deeply embedded in the average Australian’s cerebel cortex.

    When will the scales fall from people’s eyes?..but I’ve been told there is none more blind than those who don’t want to see.

    As one other commenter said, and I agree, I think whistle blowers should act anonymously, it’s just a sucker game to believe the systems put in place by Govt and private interests are anything but a containment mechanism.

    I think it’s “keep at it”..you know.

  • 21
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Friday, 6 December 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    >>”One candidate said that if there was Commonwealth public service corruption, why wasn’t it in the papers?”
    >Bwahahahaha!…OMG! Unfortunately, this par for course and deeply embedded in the average Australian’s cerebel cortex.

    Four years ago, I thought the same thing; Read the papers, watched 4 Corners. Thought the odd catch (like Obeid) was proof the system works. It thought Australia was relatively clean. Most people do.

    Transparency International doesn’t help. Every year they release their annual “Perceptions of Corruption” index, boasting Australia is amongst the cleanest countries in the world. The MSM regurgitate TI’s PR without even thinking. But note that word: *Perceptions*; It’s a ridiculously rubbery measure of whether people *think* their country is corrupt. It doesn’t consider the relative freedom of the press; e.g. TI claims Australia is much less corrupt than the US, but doesn’t factor in the strong free speech protections for US journalists reporting corruption (Public Figure Doctrine) which Australian’s don’t. Making it even more farcical TI Australia’s sponsors include Leighton Holdings, Woodside Petroleum, Clayton Utz, etc. Their supporters list is a who’s who of corporate rogues.

    > When will the scales fall from people’s eyes?..but I’ve been told there is none more blind than those who don’t want to see.

    When the MSM stops holding back, and starts telling the public what’s really going on.

  • 22
    klewso
    Posted Saturday, 7 December 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Telling the public what’s really going on” is not a high priority with MSM (the “Murdoch-Stokes Miasma”) - they’re far more interested in pushing their op-ed opinions and selling their political PR protection.

  • 23
    wrellin
    Posted Saturday, 7 December 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for saying all this, Brendan Jones. Very enlightening for someone who until now believed in Australia’s whistle-blower protection laws.

    Takes Crikey’s utility to a whole new level (in my limited experience at least).

  • 24
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Sunday, 8 December 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    @wrellin > Thanks for saying all this, Brendan Jones. Very enlightening for someone who until now believed in Australia’s whistle-blower protection laws.

    Me too, and unfortunately that’s the problem. By the time you realise they don’t work, it’s too late.

    The background to the Commonwealth’s new whistleblowing laws are fascinating:

    One day at a Whistleblowers Australia (WBA) meeting an academic appeared; They had never heard of him before, as he’d never published anything before on the subject. And they never heard from him again. Next thing they know he’s heading running the ‘Whistling While They Work’ (WWTW) survey. Turns out that he’s an ex-Ombudsman employee, and the fellow academic running the study was ex-Attorney Generals’ Department.

    Dr Kim Sawyer, a director of WBA with a PhD in statistics has questioned the WWTW study; e.g. why wasn’t it publicly tendered? WWTW is itself a deeply flawed study. Greg McMahon of the QLD Whistleblower Action Group picked it to pieces; e.g. The study *EXCLUDED* whistleblowers who had been sacked, and having excluded them, declared they thought only rarely would whistleblowers be sacked! Myself and other whistleblowers approached the WWTW staff directly with evidence of systemic corruption (in the government agencies funding the report) but they ignored us. To the best of my knowledge, when they fronted the Senate committee they didn’t reveal any of that information.

    Yet the WWTW study was a basis for the new (deeply-flawed) whistleblowing laws, to the point that Labor Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC personally praised the WWTW study head for his help in developing the legislation.

    I’ve written it up here: http://victimsofdsto.com/psc#wwtw

    @wrellin > Takes Crikey’s utility to a whole new level (in my limited experience at least).

    Fairfax and News Limited knew all of this in the lead up to the new laws. I contacted them directly, and sent them copies of this: http://victimsofdsto.com/mlp/2013-04-04(19)%20Letter%20to%20Labor%20A-G%20Dreyfus%20QC%20alerting%20him%20to%20corruption,%20OLSC%20misconduct,%20etc%20(NO%20REPLY)%20(NAMES%20BLACKED%20OUT).pdf

    But for whatever reason didn’t print a word of it.

    After the new laws were passed they ran articles high-fiving it without printing any dissenting views. They certainally didn’t print any of my information, and to the best of my knowledge none of the papers asked any whistleblower organisations what *they* thought of it.

    I couldn’t even get an MSM Letter to the Editor printed to warn other whistleblowers, even as the Public Service Union encouraged people to use the new laws.

    Only Crikey would print criticism of the new bill (BTW my rebuttal of Mark Dreyfus’ response appears in the Comments):
    http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/07/30/you-better-be-careful-blowing-the-whistle-new-laws-have-holes/

    And you won’t read any of this in the MSM.

  • 25
    wrellin
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Dreadful. I’m really surprised that Fairfax didn’t print your dissent (that’s par for the course with News Ltd, sadly).

    Good to know too, that the Public Sector Union was part of the cheer squad rather than taking your comments seriously. And good to see your suggestion that the “Integrity Branch” of government - isn’t.

    Sounds like WWTW should be renamed “WTF” laws.

  • 26
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    @wrellin > Dreadful. I’m really surprised that Fairfax didn’t print your dissent (that’s par for the course with News Ltd, sadly)

    Pretty shameful, and that’s my beef with Fairfax: By not keeping their readers fully informed they lead them into harms way. Fairfax’s self-censorship over the whistleblowing laws are a prime example of that.

    I’ll take another run at The Age over their recent self-censorship over IP thefts by government agencies.

    Interesting interview with Glenn Greenwald (who broke the story on NSA surveillance): ‘The mainstream media is too often dazzled by those in power, parroting press releases and basing stories on strategic leaks that let government forward its own agenda’ http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57613838-38/saving-the-net-from-the-surveillance-state-glenn-greenwald-speaks-up-q-a/

    The Age can hardly expect people to pay for subscriptions if they’re going to self-censor the news.

    BTW News Ltd and Crikey both gave good coverage of the government abuses of the Model Litigant Policy, which big law firms (e.g. Clayon Utz, Miniter Ellison) use to overbill the government and so burn through the ~$280M of government outsourced legal work. But there’s been scarcely a word about it in The Age. http://victimsofdsto.com/psc/#_edn62 http://ozloop.org/profiles/blogs/law-lesson-learned#comments

    @wrellin > Good to know too, that the Public Sector Union was part of the cheer squad rather than taking your comments seriously. And good to see your suggestion that the “Integrity Branch” of government - isn’t.

    On Steve Davie’s http://Ozloop.org there have been threads discussing this; The unions have changed a lot since the 80s, and are now more like companies in their own right run by well-paid executives who don’t want to upset the status quo. One whistleblower told me how the CPSU walked them off a cliff, and Michaela Banjeri - the public servant sacked for tweeting her own opinion on her own equipment on her own time - received no support from the two unions (CPSU and MEAA) she was a member of.

    @wrellin > Sounds like WWTW should be renamed “WTF” laws.

    Greg McMahon of the Whistleblower Action Group wrote that all up WWTW cost the taxpayer $1M. Because it was a flawed study, it misled parliament into believing going to the media was an escape valve for whistleblowers. If if WWTW had engaged e.g. WBA they would have learned whistleblowers have a very hard time getting media coverage, and even when they do it only fixes the problem 10% of the time. http://victimsofdsto.com/#wwtw

    As for the manner in which WWTW was awarded (apparently without a tender, and to former employees of the departments funding the ‘independent’ study) that should itself be the subject of a corruption investigation.

  • 27
    AR
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    BJ - you seem to be traducing AJB @24 which seems gratuitous.
    However the amazing thing about Failedfax is that never once did the SMH mention the Kessing case though stable mates did, the honourable exceptions being the Age & Canberra Times.
    When asked “why” by two of their star columnists at the time, the editor (some non entity, name deservedly forgotten) replied “Because it’s in the OZ!”. Passing strange but a perfect example of what happens when bean counters rather than journos. control a floundering dead tree entity.

  • 28
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Monday, 9 December 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    @AR > BJ - you seem to be traducing AJB @24 which seems gratuitous.

    I’ve copied all the WWTW researchers on letters documenting the concerns about WWTW raised by myself and others (which I had checked prior to publication). If you’re referring to whom I think you are, a colleague of theirs vouched for their personal honesty so I raised my concerns with them directly and we did correspond for a time; They promised me they would get answers, but never did. They and their TI peers have ignored all subsequent correspondence (though I have seen them trawling my web site). IMO the flaws in WWTW are of concern because they became flaws in the new whistleblowing laws, endangering whistleblowers. [See the psc/wwtw letter referenced above]

    > When asked “why” by two of their star columnists at the time, the editor (some non entity, name deservedly forgotten) replied “Because it’s in the OZ!”. Passing strange but a perfect example of what happens when bean counters rather than journos. control a floundering dead tree entity.

    Michael Pascoe has written about that phenomena. They really need to get over it; If they want us to move to a paywall model, do they expect us to subscribe to every mainstream outlet so we can get *all* the news? Investigative journalism in particular has been cut at Fairfax - Linton Besser has now left - gone to the ABC, and the journos that remain are overloaded; they’ve got more than they can report already.

    If Fairfax are going to cut back their own investigative journalism, and *not* report stories broken by other publications (even indy media like Crikey), where are they headed?

    If they don’t pick up the slack, a bit of good news from New Matilda today; they said in 2014 they’ll be doing more investigative journalism c.f. OPs and commentary.

  • 29
    Bruce Roberts
    Posted Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Thought the odd catch (like Obeid) was proof the system works. It thought Australia was relatively clean. Most people do.”

    Obeid is a “fringe dweller” and not part of the mainstream corporatocracy. We could call him “localized” to family type collusiveness with the odd political inference. Therefore he is expendable and easy to hold up as an example of the “system works”.

    When you are not on the inside you are tolerated until no longer useful.

    Thanks for the links Brendan…and your deep committment.

  • 30
    Brendan Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Bruce. Appreciated.

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