This is a difficult blog-post to write. I would like to discuss the recent Wikileaks release of the super-injunction placed on a case by the Victorian Supreme Court. Of course, due to the super-injunction I can’t talk about it without risking being hauled into Court.
I can say that the super-injunction is in place because of national security concerns and herein lies the bit I really want to talk about. The Government are wanting to hide heinous shit they get up to and have started using ‘National Security’ as a cry to hide whatever diabolical plans they have. The super-injunction is just the most effective example of this.
Let’s take an example that is well documented, the treatment of refugees. Under the guise of ‘Operational Matters’, the government attempted to disappear Tamil refugees fleeing Sri Lanka back to Sri Lanka.It was only because everyone knew the boat existed that they could not get away with it.
The Human Rights Commission uncovered the traumas being inflicted on children who have attempted to come to Australia seeking asylum. The Department of Immigration attempted to cover up the severe mental health problems being afflicted on children being held in detention. There were 128 attempts at self-harm by kids in detention in the last 15 months. It is clear that asylum-seeker detention centres are, in practice, concentration camps (unfortunately that is not an exaggeration, I wish that it was) and it is exactly the sort of thing that government secrecy is used to hide.
If proposals being floated under national security laws pass Parliament, this will get much worse. If Attorney General George “people have a right to be bigots” Brandis gets his way, publication of official secrets will be punished with up to ten years in jail. The way the legislation is worded, this could apply to journalists reporting leaks, not just the leakers. Attempts to reassure an increasingly nervous media by saying that the Attorney General would decide who is charged, has appeased no-one.
What is most galling is that Brandis himself argued for expanding free speech by watering down the Racial Discrimination Act, stating unequivocally that“our freedom and our democracy fundamentally depend upon the right to free speech”. We agree there.
This drive for secrecy is a direct assault on democracy. The public need to know what our government is up to in order to make accurate judgements about who to vote for. If what we are left with are the polished turds crafted by armies of spin-doctors there is no truth with which we can use to judge our support or otherwise in the government of the day. This is probably the idea.
The super-injunction that cannot be discussed is the most starkly obvious example of our freedom and democracy being impinged on by a secretive government. Should the changes to national security legislation pass this will only get worse.
Invoking National Security to hide the government’s dirty laundry is a dangerous precedent, one that shows just how dangerous the proposed expansion of national security laws are for our society. We must oppose the new Laws before democracy itself is threatened.