AFP media raids
(AAP Image/David Gray)

We're shallow, here in Australia. There are only 25 million of us, our media is thin, our academia poor due to relentless funding cuts, our lawyers mercenary, we have few potent civil society groups and few rights protections. Here, the powerful can act with a freedom and lack of scrutiny that the influential in other countries could only envy. Threaten that power or lack of scrutiny, however, and they'll do whatever it takes to shut you down.

That shallowness is also why much -- probably most -- of the commentary, complaints and advocacy around the AFP's raids last week missed the point -- especially the demands for special protections for the media. The real story about the raids is how power is used in Australia by vested interests -- in this case, the security services and their political masters -- for their own benefit. Any rational assessment of what happened must start from the basis that that group -- security officials, like Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty, Peter Dutton, the AFP itself -- is not some disinterested group pursuing what it sees as the national interest, but a vested interest that is particularly well placed to manipulate the system of power in Australia for its own purposes -- those purposes being to protect itself from scrutiny and subject anyone who threatens that to exemplary punishment. If the security establishment was ever about the national interest, it has long since turned into something far more self-serving, like an immune system that eventually starts attacking its host.