Brendan Murphy
Chief health officer Brendan Murphy (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Unity ticket Nine's Peter Hartcher is worried about the rise of autocracy around the world. On Tuesday, he quoted at length a report examining the decline of democracy abroad, focusing on the United States and China. Fortunately, he says, Australia is "a beacon of liberty in a darkening world".

It's strange Hartcher is so inconsistent in spotting signs of encroaching autocracy, though. He was a cheerleader for the government's village idiot-level assault on encryption in 2018, possibly because it was supported by his friends in the intelligence services who've proven such useful sources for his slew of recent pieces attacking Chinese influence in Australia. And you'll struggle to find any mention by Hartcher of the Witness K/Bernard Collaery case, despite it being the biggest scandal of recent Australian history and right slap in the middle of his bailiwick as "international editor".

Hartcher eagerly backed Scott Morrison's hilarious and bizarre cyber-hysteria episode in June, in which he endorsed the government's plan to give spy agencies the power to take control of IT and communications systems (and complained -- echoing a government talking point -- that Australian business was "wide open" and remarkably complacent" about cyber attacks). No mention, of course, that the biggest cybersecurity complacency is within the Morrison government itself.