Julian Assange WikiLeaks

Former senator Scott Ludlum’s article, on the shifting ink-blots that are WikiLeaks and its figurehead Julian Assange, drew debate from each side of the fence. Elsewhere, readers saw the government’s great tax-avoidance switch-up, as illustrated by Michael West, coming from a mile away.

On Scott Ludlum’s assessment of WikiLeaks

Johanlidberg writes: Getting involved with Putin and co., knowingly or not, was a huge mistake and one that lost WikiLeaks a lot of support, including mine. It follows a pattern that goes back to when The Guardian and NYT broke with Assange when he refused to see the need for some reductions when they discussed the publication of the Afghan war logs. That’s the difference between ethical publishers and data dumpers.

Richard Creswick writes: Julian Assange’s situation should make us all ashamed at the lack of any defence from our government and opposition — though the government’s position is understandable, given their attacks on the freedoms and privacy of its domestic citizens.

Robert Garnett writes: I don’t know whether the idea of coupling WikiLeaks with the Rorschach test is very useful, but I do know that declining empires like the US are more dangerous than when they are ascendant. People who stand up to the bastards will not fair very well.

Ruv Dabra writes: You’ve swept aside, by bare assertion, key issues that I think deserve critical attention. In particular that: Assange is a journalist; the extraordinary pressure brought to bear on him is solely because he’s a journalist, and; he is purely a victim: that is, his suffering is purely a consequence of the cruelty and indifference of others, and not an avoidable consequence of recklessness and irresponsibility of his own. A journalist isn’t simply someone who relays information. Journalism is a profession with a code of ethics to which WikiLeaks has never committed, and holds no professional accountability (and it was been criticised for this before an arrest warrant was ever issued for Assange).

I cannot myself see how we might consider Mark Zuckerberg a “techbro”, without the same criteria equally fitting Assange. A hacker who saw journalism as simply the targeted publication of political data, who has conflated celebrity and controversy with success, and may well have also conflated silence with sexual consent. I can’t think of a more naive, technocratic, idealistic, narcissistic approach to his own career than the one he pursued. For a modern contrast, you need only compare (say) Edward Snowden, who morally scrutinised his every action from multiple perspectives before he made a move. When has Assange ever shown any evidence of believing other than that he was right from the outset, or ever done otherwise than avoid external accountability for anything he has done?


On the government shifting blame for tax avoidance

Itsarort writes: The average punter is not really in a position to defraud the ATO; not now, not ever. However, small to medium business, farms and hobby farms ( the backbone of the Coalition’s Australia), is the clear and present danger.

Petunia Winegum writes: [American Express’ tax expenditure] amounts to an effective tax rate of 0.01% of total revenues. I would love to know what profits they reported over that period and what shonky methods they used to reduce their reported profits to a level where they paid next to no tax.

Peter Wileman: It’s a bit rich that when the ATO announced that we were dudding them out of around $9 billion, Malcolm got up on his soap box to lecture us all that we must pay our taxes. I don’t have even one off shore account Malcolm!

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and cock-ups to boss@crikey.com.au. We reserve the right to edit comments for length. Please include your full name.