Seldom has freedom of speech been under such an attack in Australia. This assault, however, does not come from anti-discrimination laws as the Murdoch brainwashing mob would have us believe, but from the Abbott Government's lockjawed approach to information.
From Scott ("See no boats") Morrison, to the hear-no-evil PM ("I have nothing to say on that") and his speak-no-evil Foreign Minister Julie ("Well, I am not at liberty to tell you") Bishop, this Government is taking an arrogant, high-handed approach to the right of the public to know what's going on. And they have no hesitation in dragging a presumably highly regarded military officer down with then as they do it.
While the right-wing commentariat fixates on trifling allegations that the Greens tried to silence Cardinal George Pell over therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research, Canberra's "nothing-to-say," rules go almost unnoticed.
Almost that is, except for the Abbott cheer-squad masquerading as journalists at the American-owned national daily, who hold that Abbott's lack of public appearances will strike "the right chord with the public". Of course they dutifully wring their hands over whether Abbott's "excessive control and restraint on government actions" may give the Opposition a free kick and offer the perception of a do-nothing government.
Then there's the poor old model of a modern Major-General, Angus Campbell, trotted out by Morrison to give a robotic response: "I will not comment further in relation to on-water matters," three times in a row. At least he didn't have any difficulty remembering his lines.
But of course this is a disgraceful and insulting use of a military leader who must have more important and pressing business than to be a stand-up for Morrison's absurd stunt, codenamed Operation Sovereign Borders.
For those who may have missed it, here is an exchange from a Morrison-Campbell news conference It could have come from John Clarke and Bryan Dawe:
Journalist:Sorry, Minister, don't you think it shows a weakness in your leadership that you're constantly deferring to military officers to answer questions about your own portfolio?
Angus Campbell:I think I answered a question that is wholly within my responsibilities.
Question:But it's the minister that is responsible for the overall operation.
Scott Morrison:Well, let me answer it for you as well. We don't comment on things that affect on-water operations.
Journalist:As I've just put to you, that - don't you think that, you know, it's a problem that you're the minister responsible for this entire operation...
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