Sep 14, 2009

Allan Kessing: my side of the story

After four years, three barristers and over $70,000 wasted I am a convicted felon, writes whistleblower Allan Kessing.

I joined Customs in 1990 and retired in 2005. My first three years were on the wharves then two at Sydney airport. In January 1997 I was approached to join a new intelligence section analysing sea and air cargo where I remained until returning to the airport in 2001.

In 2002 I was recruited by the Air Border Security unit because of my previous experience to analyse the large amount of material it had accumulated over the years that had never been brought together. It took me a couple of months just to read and try to collate and the picture that emerged was one of accumulated abuses of Customs regulations, theft, smuggling and systemic criminality. Long time failures had been set in concrete during the run-up to the Olympics and many new rorts and abuses had been accreted on since then.

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11 thoughts on “Allan Kessing: my side of the story

  1. John Wood

    The treatment of Allan is a national disgrace – he should be treated as a hero, not a villain. I would love to provide some small financial support to him; perhaps Crikey could help find ways to do this?
    John Wood

  2. graybul

    Thanks Allan . . for the courage to lead.

  3. Richard Wilson

    Yes thank you Allan. The State does not like it dirty little secrets exposed no matter which side of politics.
    If the public become outrgaed enough at this miscarriage of justice, maybe this can be rectified. Where is the mainstream media when they are really needed? Exactly! Thank God for Crikey.

  4. Tom McLoughlin

    This sorry chapter is enough to make claims the W Bush regime courted 9/11 sound sensible.

    What was the Howard Govt thinking? That if they left the ‘door’ open long enough that sure enough some violent extremist would give them the missing Iraq WMD rationale?

    It’s quite a mystery. What level of responsibility does Mr Kessing attribute to that nice Mr Anderson I wonder. Resignation? Hardly the accountability I have in mind.

  5. Greg Angelo

    I have been following Mr. Kessing’s case for a number of years,

    There are many aspects of this case deserving criticism. The previous Howard government was absolutely disgusting in its treatment of this man. The current Labor government has done SFA to help him, and equally the Fairfax press appear to have ignored his case because it was a story initially broken by the Australian newspaper which is its deadly enemy.

    Recent disclosures that our ports are similarly predisposed to allowing criminals and miscreants free rein would indicate that the Customs service is either under resourced, incompetently managed or in probability both descriptions are accurate. When we have an informal unholy alliance between big business which does not want to behave responsibly, and unions whose members involved some criminal activity, we are in serious trouble.

    We have to endure removal of our shoes and belts in a futile display of security at airports whilst baggage handlers and stevedores with criminal backgrounds are ostensibly operating with minimal restraint. It is about time the Rudd government did something serious about addressing these issues.

    I reproduce for the benefit of crikey readers the text of the letter recently published in the Australian Newspapernin relation to Mr. Kesssing’s case.

    The Lonely Whistleblower

    The recent disclosure (Australian 7 September) that the Labor Party turned away whistleblower Allan Kessing and refused to act is not surprising. When he provided opposition ALP MP Anthony Albanese ( now the Transport Minister) with access to a secret report on security flaws at Sydney airport he created some difficulty. To act whilst in a opposition would encourage future whistleblowers which is a problem when you are in government. The sad fact of the matter is that politicians of all persuasions hate whistleblowers because they all have skeletons in their cupboards. In opposition, they pay lip service to disclosure but in power they do their best to suppress dissent.

    The sad case of Alan Kessing is a classic example. Whilst Labor was in opposition, and the Liberals were copping flak over Sydney airport Customs debacle Labor politicians displayed some overt sympathy with Kessing’s case. However as we can now see they failed to act even when given the information prior to its public disclosure. Furthermore they have done absolutely nothing effective in relation to his case since they got into power.

    It should be noted that in Kesssing’s case, the Howard government didn’t have the guts to go after the journalists concerned in the disclosure (which led to $200m of reforms at Sydney airport), but they prosecuted Kesssing (the poor retired public servant) who was presumably a softer touch. This is straight out of the Mao Zedong management philosophy of “execute one educate a thousand”.

    The current Whistleblower legislation, State and Federal is ineffective and provides little practical protection to public servants or journalists. A government serious about good governance would facilitate whistleblowing, and give some effective statutory protection to both the whistleblower and the channels through which information is publicised.. However no such reform is ever likely from government intent on protecting its own backside from whistleblowers.

    Greg Angelo

  6. Frank Campbell

    The dubious customs of Australian Customs are as old as the bureaucracy itself: 108 years. A decade or so ago I reviewed for The Australian a massive academic tome- the history of Australian customs. I doubt many people read the book- a pity because it exposed the permanent state of paralysis, incompetence and corruption which puts Customs in a league of of its own: 4th division. In the 90s the smell was so bad the Dept. was actually shut down and reinvented. It was always the Siberia of Canberra, with as much weight in the cabinet room as a dead blowfly.

    Kessing should get the Order of Australia for exposing this foul disorder. The govt. should exhume all the other Kessings they’ve surreptitiously disposed of over the last century. They are buried national treasures.

  7. Colin Jones

    I too have followed Allan Kessing’s case. One reason why I never vote for a major party. They’re both corrupt through long having had no consolidated competition from the inbdependents.
    The absolutely disgraceful treatment handed out to Allan Kessing should tell us all what Labo(u)r and the Libs are about. A pox on both their houses for neglecting our security at our ports. Perhaps they’re getting little backhanders for the party coffers from the criminals.
    Remember the name Allan Kessing next time they come around asking for your vote and confront them with it.

  8. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Mother, don’t let your children grow up to be whistleblowers… Allan, you have my wishes, prayers and gratitude. Unfortunately, I don’t have any influence though, which is all that really matters.

  9. bakerboy

    The moral of the Kessing matter? Never be a whistlblower, you can’t win. Governments will never introduce adequate legislation to ‘protect’ whistleblowers as they just don’t want public servants disclosing the government’s many failings. As an ex public servant and military officer as well as a defence industry person, I could disclose lots of juicy stuff but I never would, I’m not that silly. Best wishes, Alan. Alex

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