Federal Police raids directly threaten our democracy

Federal Police raids directly threaten our democracy


Opinion
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Why should freedom of the press worry farmers I hear you ask, well it won't if you are confident government will tell you honestly everything you need to know.

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Mal Peters says the Scott Morrison led government has united former enemies - the Murdoch press and the ABC - over the recent AFP raids.

Mal Peters says the Scott Morrison led government has united former enemies - the Murdoch press and the ABC - over the recent AFP raids.

Sometimes I wonder how a sophisticated country like Germany in the late 1930s fell in behind a madman like Hitler.

Perhaps it was partly because he shut down the media and only peddled the propaganda according to the Nazi way of thinking. Simply put, you don't know what you don't know.

Democracies since have been vigilant to ensure governments don't restrict media, putting in place stringent law to ensure populations are kept informed.

Why should freedom of the press worry farmers I hear you ask, well it won't if you are confident government will tell you honestly everything you need to know, but even the strongest supporters of government know they have a habit of gilding the lily, or worse, straight out porkies.

I know from my years in the farm lobby talking to politicians, there was a natural tendency to restrict information, particularly anything that might reflect poorly on them if they had stuffed up. There are hundreds of corruption scandals on both side of politics that would not have emerged if the media had not exposed them.

The government claims the recent Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the ABC and The Daily Telegraph journalist Annika Smethurst were national security matters, but an examination of the facts show that is complete bunkum and in fact are straight out intimidation of the press and whistleblowers.

National security breaches are critical and would demand immediate attention to stop them, but Annika Smethurst's story that the heads of defence and home affairs ministries had discussed draconian new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens, is 14 months old.

The ABC story is older at 24 months and ended up in the media because army personnel became frustrated that no action was taken. Like most most major stories, it was not acted on by government until it hit the media. If, as the government claims, it was a "national security" issue, you would think they would have jumped on it straight away to make sure it did not continue, not two years later.

A former, very senior bureaucrat on the ABC's The Drum program, said the AFP would not be game to conduct raids like these without advising politicians prior. So it is rubbish for the minister to say he had not heard about them.

The Morrison government has a great opportunity to lead Australia to great things, but all they have done by this action is unite former enemies - the Murdoch press and the ABC. They were not national security matters and look like a simple intimidation tactic that has blown up in their faces.

The way of rectification is to change legislation and give the Australian public equivalent standards of freedom of speech as all other (without exception) western nations, to take us out of the dark ages. In fact, a bill of rights might be well overdue.

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