Jun 8, 2018

It’s not about ‘foreign interference’. It’s about curbing transparency.

The foreign interference laws are a cover for a dramatic expansion in secrecy laws — one that has only partly been thwarted.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor


Attorney-General Christian Porter

One of the government's few recent successes has been convincing the media that the "foreign interference" laws currently before parliament and subject to yesterday's Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report are actually about foreign interference.

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18 thoughts on “It’s not about ‘foreign interference’. It’s about curbing transparency.

  1. Marcus Hicks

    Apparently the major parties thought that 1984 was an instruction manual, rather than a warning!

    1. Matt Hardin

      Not just 1984, but Kafka and Catch-22 as well.

      1. AR

        Well, the ex-spook is described as Witness K.

  2. zut alors

    It’s correct to say Labor has lacked backbone re the undermining of civil liberties.
    Meantime we are intellectually anaesthetised with debate about Barnaby Joyce.

    Behold a lawyer’s fantasy, a grey area of vast proportion:
    ‘…unless you can prove you believed the information would not “cause harm to Australia’s interests”.’

  3. Gregory Bailey

    An excellent summary of the situation. I think it confirms once more the true colours of Malcolm Turnbull. He is not at all the small L Liberal protector of individual freedoms he has long cultivated, and which for many years has entranced the MSM. Instead he is the perfect conduit to a much more risk averse and controlling group of ministers who seek to make Australia a surveillance state, possibly leading to a situation where particular forms of now accepted public criticism will be banned. He is the illusion, they are the reality.

    The haste in which the Attorney-General wishes to bring in the next Security legislation is all part of this rightward movement and he has offered no good reason which this legislation should be introduced. Only today it was reported in the Age that his reason for haste was “to prevent any threats to the federal byelections due on July 28.” What could these threats possibly be and they surely pale into comparison with the obvious influence of a certain US citizen whose media interests here shape much of the electoral agenda here?

    And, finally, the average Aussie will not even be aware of these changes, nor be concerned about them.

    1. leon knight

      But wouldn’t it be wonderful if Murdoch’s treasonous behaviour could be spectacularly prosecuted by, say, GetUp under the new laws?

  4. klewso

    Where are we going to send our convicts?
    ….. This horse’s arse government’s Trojan horse “security lores” are aimed directly at critics and landing us in the shit.
    And what is the rest of our “gnus media” doing as this goes on – beside “protecting their sources” dunghill?

    1. klewso


  5. Strewth

    So you don’t need a bouncer to ask “How much have you had to drink”?
    You just need a police dog to look at you with indifference and you will not be allowed in, even if you have already paid. Police State or what?

  6. DF

    Why not make the law retrospective and prosecute Andrew Bolt for receiving, and quoting from, the Top Secret classified ONA report on Iraq authored by Andrew Wilkie, over the weekend 19-22 June 2003? And the person who was a member of Downer’s staff who leaked it to him? And the person who authorised the member of Downer’s staff to make that leak. How was that event not detrimental to Australia’s national interest? Unless of course the Coalition’s short-term interest has a higher priority. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

  7. Matt Hardin

    “cause harm to Australia’s interests”. Is there any documentation of these interests or is that secret too?

  8. Administrator

    Buddy’s Twelfth Law : A statement commencing “It’s all about…” is a snow job.
    National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 is not about espionage and foreign interference. It is a grab for commonwealth power designed to permit more invasive surveillance of citizens, residents and visitors. It seeks new offences for the publication of government wrongdoings. Its principle original author was former Attorney General Brandis, the man who had his spooks, under the guise of foreign aid, spy on the cabinet of closest neighbour and tightest ally Timor-Leste, using the results to seek commercial advantage. He personally issued the warrant for the dead of night ASIS raid impounding evidence of his wrongdoing and he withdrew the passport of key Witness K to prevent testimony in the Hague.
    There is every reason to suspect the bona fides of anything George Brandis says is “about foreign interference”. And so it proves. Despite amendments engineered this week in a “bipartisan deal”, the Bill remains extremely draconian. Why? Because Labor seeks more government surveillance power as keenly as the governing coalition. Where are the defenders of our civil liberties? Silenced by party machines and government threats.

  9. Woodstock

    Considering the revelations in the US regarding various US citizens including military colluding with or liaising with Russia, the history of the cold war etc I would have thought a lot more questions about our relationship with the US would have been thoroughly scrutinised particularly by the intelligence community & maybe that relationship adjusted. I’m totally bewildered.

    1. JohnF

      The us deep state sees the writing on the wall with the imminent collapse of the us economy and the ensuing anarchy and is preparing their SHTF bolthole in ‘secure’ Oz. Oz is being prepared with the slow boil of ‘legal’ security measures and a compliant population mesmerised by Murdoch’s media.

  10. klewso

    This “cloak of foreign influence security”?
    Is Porter really that obtuse?
    Or is it simply cultivated ignorance that keeps him, this government and our media from seeing the similarities between the way American Rupert Murdoch runs his “Ministry of Misinformation and Obfuscation” conservative advertorial political propaganda media empire (from his “70”% edifice share of our hard-copy news market) : to the way the likes of GetUp! and Cambridge Analytica operate :-
    to influence electoral outcomes through influencing voter perception of “fitness to govern” – off the back of which Porter is trying to wheel this Trojan horse in on behalf of Murdoch, facing such “unfair” competition?

    1. AR

      For anyone unsure how obtuse XtianP is – foreign agents interfering in by-elections FFS – watch his comments on Insighters (aka the Shouty Stutchbury Hour)
      After the Stuch’s umpteenth interruption and/or bellowing over Farr & her, Crabb turned to the off camera crew and mimed, for the nation to see -WTF?
      At the end we learned that our beloved 1950s fashion/lifestyle icon will be hosting Inciters for a couple of weeks – I wonder if she will have Mr Shouty back?

      1. klewso

        Is he sounding more and more like “Dobby” Henderson (whom I must admit I liked in The Chamber of Secrets more than his cameos on Insiders).
        And “a whinger (when it comes to workers with wages stuck in a bog for a year or more) = anyone who doesn’t agree with” Screaming Lord Stutch (peddling the LNP “corporate tax cuts = wage increases” barrow) – according to the “economix expert and editor” who piped Sam Henderson aboard the good ship Financial Revue for his insightful hornpipes?
        The E-i-C using his elite position to campaign in favour of the Limited News Party and corporate tax cuts : while morale below deck is taking on water – and Stensholt jumped ship?
        What’s he going to do if this dogma about “company tax cuts = wage increases” of his, Turnbull’s, Cormann’s, Dutton’s, Slomo’s et al doesn’t come true? That these “unchartered waters” continue the way they are now – with “no one being able to explain” why?
        Quit one-eyed political hackery?
        ….. Why wouldn’t he be such a regular on Inciters with that sort of hacking form?
        I’m looking forward to Dobby, Blot, Savva, Devine, The Credlin and Screaming Lord Stutch on the same show with Crabb while Cassidy is away – because the producers can?

      2. klewso

        And what a breath of fresh air Malcolm Farr – one of the anomalies to the usual Murdoch Muppet Show line-up – with two working eyes with which to observe and report politics?

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