Bernard Collaery Witness K trial
Bernard Collaery. (Image: AAP/Rod Mcguirk)

In 2018, the people we invited our readers to vote for Person of the Year were largely people who pushed back against all that is degraded and hopeless about public life in Australia. This is particularly true of the pair our readers deservedly voted in -- a principled stand, a much needed source of hope, or at the very least energy, that hasn't gotten nearly the attention it demands. 

Winner: Witness K and Bernard Collaery

As Bernard Keane wrote back in July, the "Howard government’s bugging of the Timor-Leste cabinet in 2004 is the Watergate of Australian politics, a crime committed by a pack of bullies who believed themselves above the law, not against a rival political organisation that was capable of fighting back through the political system, but a struggling, deeply impoverished neighbour."

He goes on to note the dispiriting way that Australia's Watergate is distinct: unlike the Nixon version, the opposition and most of the media are united in indifference. The scandal of 2018 has been that our greatest scandal has barely been a scandal at all.