1 Mar 2014

Australian government's version of truth

Some extracts from an article by Jack Waterford are included. My apologies to you Jack.

This week, Angus Campbell, a senior soldier who has been seconded to a largely bureaucratic position - which includes oversight over Australia's concentration(sorry I meant detention centers) camps - was accused by Steve Conroy in estimates of covering up for government.

He was avoiding giving any information that might embarrass the government or the military. No doubt he thought that was his duty.
Maybe it was,  there has never been and should never be a tradition that an officer who does it is immune or should be immune from criticism, even though he may have no choice.

We know that the forces personnel carry out the orders of governments and in a democracy that is fine, but when the government shifts the blame from themselves onto the forces it is unconscionable because they know that the officer cannot defend himself or his troops. 

Criticism is more necessary when a national security or ''operation'' or, now, ''on-water'' excuse is used to claim immunity from scrutiny.

The public servant or officer who deceives to protect the present minister is probably doing it to protect the one before him, and the one before that.

Loyal lying is to the government of the day, the policy of the hour, the tactic of the minute. It serves, usually, no long-term purpose, no higher ideal.
It is sometimes founded on a naive belief that loyalty will be returned, or that a politician you protect ''owes'' you something

In some departments, one suspects there are informal classes about being unhelpful to parliamentary committees, even, perhaps particularly, on issues that matter not a bit.

In clubs, some senior public servants quietly boast to each other about how they faced down the bowling, dispatched the odd loose ball to the boundary and never once gave a chance.

 Here are some of the classic dis tractors: ''Now let me clarify this …''; ''As I comprehend it …''; ''That is my advice''; ''I am advised …''; ''If that is your suggestion, then all I can say is that that is my advice and I know nothing of it''; ''I am advised now, however, …''. And so on.

Horatio Nelson, famously, put a telescope to his blind eye during the Battle of Copenhagen so that he could say, honestly, that he ''had not seen'' an order - conveyed by flag from his commander, Sir Hyde Parker, to withdraw his ships from the fight.

A former defence chief, Admiral Chris Barrie, was once accused of doing something similar in failing to update his information about whether children were thrown overboard from a refugee boat.

This sounds a bit like a Gilbert & Sullivan comedy however this what we are treated to with any Senate inquisition, be it either the government and opposition.

I wonder why politicians are held in such low esteem among the population, it's as if they all have an operation once elected.

What operation you may ask, well I think I've just invented it, it's called the forked tongue technique, allows the truth to be manipulated to suit.


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