Australian Government must stop imitating China
SCORE one for the public’s right to know.
The Australian Federal Police yesterday ruled out laying charges against Annika Smethurst over her extraordinary 2018 story on the Australian Government’s plans to expand domestic spy powers.
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Under the proposal the Australian Signals Directorate, with the approval of home affairs and defence ministers, would be able to monitor texts, emails and bank accounts.
The story was called “nonsense” and “completely false”.
And yet in a strange coincidence the AFP raided her Canberra home last year over the alleged publication of official secrets.
Funny – wasn’t the information false? The search was ultimately ruled unlawful. But that decision only arrived last month.
Until then Smethurst had to deal with officers first rummaging through her underwear draw, probing through her phone and computer, and then almost a year of angst about possible charges.
It was a remarkable impersonation of the Chinese Government.
Which is really awkward.
Because if ever there was a clear example of how crucial whistleblowers, journalism and the public’s right to know is to the safety and health of the world, look no further than the start of COVID-19.