Feb 26, 2014

Can’t handle the truth? On the front line in the Coalition’s war on scrutiny

The soldier heading "Operation Sovereign Borders" is indeed engaged in a political cover-up. Other bureaucrats aren't quite so skilled. Crikey compares some key hearings in Canberra yesterday.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

You could fault opposition defence spokesman Stephen Conroy’s taste in movies, but not his choice of words in describing Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, head of “Operation Sovereign Borders”, as participating in a “political cover-up” in his refusal to share information about the policy he oversees.

That policy includes the process of towing back — however you want to define it — asylum seeker boats to Indonesia, during which our vessels repeatedly entered Indonesia’s territorial waters, censorship of media attempts even to cover Campbell’s activities and indefinitely detaining those who have reached Australia on Nauru and Manus Island. It was on the latter, of course, that one was killed and many others injured last week by either the security officials meant to be guarding them, PNG police or local Manus Islanders allowed into the detention centre.

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30 thoughts on “Can’t handle the truth? On the front line in the Coalition’s war on scrutiny

  1. klewso

    A willing accomplice?
    Reckon he dresses to the Right?
    Then they sat him next to Michaelia Cash – with her penchant for theatrics in the Senate.

  2. rhwombat

    A bow tie is always carries a poor prognosis, but it was fun watching David Johnstone go an even darker shade of puce over the sacrificial Campbell’s bleating.

  3. JohnB

    Has censorship gone further than even Crikey realised?

    The link to “the transcript” leads to a dead end.

  4. ralph

    While ever Campbell fronts up at press conferences with Morrison rather than being an operative behind the schemes he will always be vulnerable. He should do himself a favour an absent himself from Morrison’s confected conferences and media appearances.

  5. klewso

    Campbell is Morrison’s human shield.

  6. klewso

    …. albeit a volunteer.

  7. zut alors

    It was refreshing to hear Conroy avoid the use of weasel words. It’s a pity Shorten doesn’t have Conroy’s fire.

  8. klewso

    Then again Conroy burns himself more often than not? This was atypical.

  9. Electric Lardyland

    This Abbott in Wonderland government, really is a strange place, isn’t it? Apparently the Minister and his Chief of Staff, fronting up at alleged press conferences and committees, and relentlessly refusing to divulge any sort of information, is in no way, even closely related to a cover up. But not only is the culture of secrecy, not in any way a cover up, but even to suggest so is ‘deeply offensive’. Personally, I would have thought that if someone rises to the rank of Lieutenant General, then they would have developed a certain amount of toughness, but no, apparently Angus Campbell is such a delicate flower, that he is shocked, when a senator puts forward the proposition, that since he is attending a senate committee, he probably should answer some questions.
    Then our new Abbott in Wonderland political climate took an even stranger turn, when the outraged David Johnstone and Stuart Robert, demanded an apology from Steven Conroy. It seems in this strange new world, there has never been a single historical instance of military personnel keeping important information from the public, nor has there ever been a case of a high ranking military officer running an anti-democratic agenda, and of course, there has never, ever been any human rights abuses carried out by the military. So thus in Wonderland, to even suggest that maybe these assumptions aren’t totally accurate, is now cause for much frothing at the mouth condemnation.
    But perhaps the strangest manifestation of our new Abbott in Wonderland world, was when a commercial media pack chased Conroy down the corridor, while attempting to extract an apology. Really? Now wouldn’t you think, that since all Australian media organisations in the past, have loudly pontificated about the public’s right to know, then maybe their time would be better spent, trying to work out what is happening behind the veil of secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders? But no, all we got was a group conforming to the government line and attacking the person who was standing up for the public’s, and the media’s, ‘right to know’.

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