Hans Lovejoy, editor
Why are whistleblowers treated like criminals by the political elite – surely this conflicts with the coalition and Labor bipartisan ideals of free speech?
While the newly elected federal government wasted no time in preparing new laws to protect religious (and atheist) freedoms, there is little political support for whistleblowers, who are individuals who shake the system and create a better society. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and all that.
But wait – what did footballer Israel Folau say?
Right-wing politicians and their media commenters jumped to his defence after he tweeted: ‘WARNING Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters HELL AWAITS YOU Repent! Only Jesus Saves’.
Good grief! If only there were as much interest in what real freedom of speech looks like (hint: that was hate speech).
Australian citizen Julian Assange faces over 170 years for releasing embarrassing information on US atrocities and will receive no special treatment, PM Scott Morrison said before being re-elected.
Shouldn’t Assange be thanked for keeping the world informed on how the US military complex operates?
Former spy Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery have been aggressively pursued by the federal government for exposing a covert Australian spy operation to bug the Timor-Leste government during sensitive oil and gas negotiations in 2004.
Shouldn’t they instead be thanked for fearlessly upholding the principles of ethics and integrity when dealing with an impoverished neighbour?
Last week, the ABC and other media reported that Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle is facing a 161-year jail term for helping to expose the ATO’s aggressive and unethical debt collection practices.
Shouldn’t Boyle instead be thanked by the federal government for keeping their employees accountable?
As of going to press on Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the federal police raided the home of News Corp journo Annika Smethurst over a leaked plan to allow government spying on Australians.
Shouldn’t she be thanked for keeping Australians informed of the government’s attempts to spy on us?
Police claimed the justification for Smethurst’s warrant was ‘undermining national security,’ which is exactly the same disturbing loose rhetoric used in 1930s Germany.
And while it’s easy to dismiss 2019 references to the dark days of pre-second-world-war Europe, the West’s decline (again) towards hardline tyrannical rule is neatly outlined in the 2018 book How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley.
An important panel discussion will take place at this year’s Writers Festival on August 4 from 10.15am till 11.15am, inside the Feros Care Marquee.
How Free is Free Speech? will feature Amal Awad, Kate McClymont, Ranjana Srivastava, Peter Greste, and chair Paul Barclay.
The session is sponsored by The Byron Shire Echo.