May 29, 2014

Politicians are under surveillance — what will they do about it?

The discovery that politicians are under surveillance when whistleblowers contact them should drive a serious attempt to protect the latter from surveillance.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

While the specific circumstances surrounding the “inadvertent” monitoring of Senator John Faulkner and his dealings with a parliamentary whistleblower inside Parliament House have some way to play out, the case has served to focus on the growing difficulty of providing safety for whistleblowers in a mass surveillance environment.

The CCTV spying on a Department of Parliamentary Services whistleblower that revealed he had contact with the Labor veteran infuriated Faulkner, and he’s not alone, with other senators saying they regard DPS as out of control and in need of a full inquiry. That matter is currently before the Privileges Committee, to which Faulkner immediately referred the matter after the head of DPS, Carol Mills, anticipated Faulkner’s questioning in the Finance and Public Administration Committee on Monday and volunteered that there’d been an incident in which “appropriate” accessing of internal Parliament House CCTV footage in investigation of a possible code of conduct breach by an APS employee had “inadvertently” come into conflict with “the protocol of the protection of members’ and senators’ rights to do business in the building”.

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7 thoughts on “Politicians are under surveillance — what will they do about it?

  1. paddy

    Good luck to the poor sod who thought spying on John Faulkner was a good idea.
    Of all the people to p*ss off!
    He’ll no doubt spend his last month as a senator making lots of waves about this. (And rightly so.)
    There’ll be more heads on spikes than you’d see in a particularly bloody episode of Game of Thrones.

  2. Brendan Jones

    > we’ve known for some time courtesy of Senator Nick Xenophon, the Australian Federal Police has obtained the telephone records of MPs and senators in the hunt for whistleblowers and leakers, as well as those of journalists.

    It’s disturbing how the AFP cracks down on whistleblowers, but ignore corruption. Many examples: http://victimsofdsto.com/royal/#_edn32

    I wrote to Labor Justice Minister Jason Clare to ask why the AFP had not acted on my corruption complaint in six months. I never heard from him, but I was called and threatened by an AFP officer who told me to drop it. https://tinyurl.com/nk86vvl

    Even when the story was reported last year, still did nothing.

    And I’ve written to LNP Justice Minister Michael Keenan 9 times. He’s done nothing. http://victimsofdsto.com/abbott

    The AFP are a joke.

    Trivia: Did you know the AFP owes its existence to a couple of guys who egged Billy Hughes at a political rally in Warwick, and Hughes wanted personal control of their prosecution? After that he used them on his political enemies, including (wait for it) the Queensland Government, raiding the Queensland Government printing office. http://victimsofdsto.com/hrc/#_edn166

  3. Scott Grant

    “The claims were denied at the time, and the denials were accepted by Faulkner and others”. Hmmmm. I am reminded of William Blum’s second rule of Watergate: “Never believe anything until it is officially denied.”.

    I thought of this recently as I watched Tony Abbott in question time emphatically denying something or other. I forget what. Amusingly, he appears to think that people will believe what he says.

  4. graybul

    Operation Sovereign Borders has been such a success by means of an imposed imperative of secrecy, denial of accountability and employment of ‘Immunity’ as a defence . . it was inevitable other branches of Government would broaden the threat. Even if by extension (R.A.N. use of “inadvertently” getting lost) Mills response to Faulkner’s outrage at being under surveillance was due to ” . . an APS employee had inadvertently come into conflict with the protocol . . . “. The Abbott Government is creating an environment conducive to “inadvertent mistakes”.
    “The price of freedom, is eternal vigilance”

  5. CML

    So, how can we find out who is visiting the offices of GOVERNMENT senators and members??!!!
    That would be far more useful information, given the alleged corrupt fundraising and other activities of the LNP.

  6. klewso

    “You can trust a politician!” – not like us plebs?

  7. Ian


    I can’t think of a better use of Faulkner’s last month as senator than putting heads on spikes as you put it.

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