WikiLeaks Suppression Order defies democracy

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Thanks to revelations today by WikiLeaks, the wider world is now privy to an outrageous Suppression Order issued by the Victorian Supreme Court, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.


Fairfax Chairman Roger 'Rabbit' Corbett is as smoothly two-faced, metaphorically speaking, as an RBA polymer-coated Securency bank-note.

The polymer note is a CSIRO triumph. It is lighter than Teflon.

It is time Corbett did the right thing and stood down — either as Fairfax Media chair or as board member of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Wearing the two hats on the one head is an untenable conflict of vested and invested interest.

Thanks to an explosive revelation today by WikiLeaks now the adults of the wider world are privy to an outrageous Suppression Order issued in the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Australians are forbidden by law, to know the contents of this Suppression Order.

You and I are disallowed to know what's going on. Or to know what deals are being done by our government in our name. 

The Order is a continuum of the burgeoning daily denial of information to Australians on both state and national levels.

Independent Australia is aware of the contents of the Suppression Order but we are not allowed to share it with you, or publish it. I may have breached the Suppression Order by sending a copy of the Suppression Order to my managing editor, David Donovan. As contributing editor-at-large, I have a tacit obligation to report the truth without fear or favour. And to keep our readers fully informed and to treat you with respect.

This information has to be put in the public domain — where it belongs. Freedom of speech is a basic tenet of our corroding democracy. This is not esoteric nonsense. It is our raison d'etre. For me, journalism is my religion.

Our messenger colleagues are this minute risking their lives in Ukraine, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, Gaza, Iraq, and other war zones of man-made horror and murderous acts, to bring us hourly eye-witness reports of our seemingly infinite capacity to kill, mutilate and wound one another in body and spirit. We are surely living proof of the fallacy of the intelligent design credo. 

It would be utterly pathetic if we journalists of the home guard, failed to stand our ground on such trespassing as this insulting Suppression Order. It is tantamount to personal and professional cowardice. It is a violation of our collective rights.

I hope the Suppression Order will be contested.

It is these continuing attempts by governments to keep secrets from us, that gradually extinguish the flickering light of small candles held up to small truths.

The Suppression Order itself is under a Suppression Order. It is embarrassing. Facile. 

It is judicial fundamentalism. It is grotesque government fundamentalism. Further, the Order is a blatant abuse of the separation of powers. In this instance, it is a repugnant legal device deployed for unjustifiable political reasons.

The Order masquerades itself under fatuous claims of higher ground long left untrod by this Government and its predecessor.

It brings insult to Australians and our false claims as champions of freedom of speech.

It spits on the notion of the courts and judiciary as the sanctuary and protectorate of justice — of a sacred dominion where we the people, regardless of our state or status, remain the first amongst equals.

The order is contemptuous of the court of public opinion.

Independent Australia has read the Suppression Order. There is no justification whatsoever for the Order. Not on personal, professional, political or national or international grounds. Nor, I imagine, on legal grounds. It is nothing more than political expediency.

The Order concerns subject matter that has already been widely canvassed and published — in both electronic and print media. Now, thanks to WikiLeaks, more so. It was a facile legal tactic that has now secured international exposure of the Order's contents.

Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done. Not done over.

Roger Corbett must be only too aware of this.

For some time, there have been serious concerns about Corbett's contentious roles within both Fairfax and the RBA. With valid reason. They are contradictory.

Fairfax's Walkley Award winning investigative team, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker and colleagues, have sired  a number of heavy duty exposés and scandals — not the least being the foreign bribery scandal involving Securency, then half-owned by the RBA.

Thus we have the situation of Caesar investigating Caesar and Caesar investigating Caesar investigating Caesar.

All the while, Caesar, inter alia Roger Corbett is not held accountable and nor does his role in both organisations come under scrutiny. It should.

There were sordid and wishful attempts to force Baker and McKenzie to reveal their sources.

After all, they did what the RBA and ASIC, the Victoria Police, the Federal Police and other police  and Interpol all strangely failed to do — that is, investigate and expose the wholesale fraud, bribery and corruption unearthed in this Australian-spawned international corporate and sex scandal, that could provide a script for a James Bond thriller.

Independent Australia was unequivocal in its support and campaign for the journalists and the upholding of our Code of Ethics to resist revealing sources.

Eventually, McKenzie and Baker won the day, despite the fact that a well-funded legal gun was put to their heads.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald online – a Fairfax publication – Philip Dorling writes about the WikiLeaks scoop and a statement from its founder Julian Assange, who still remains in London's Ecuador Embassy, after he sought diplomatic asylum on June 19, 2012.

In a statement provided to Fairfax Media, Assange said it was

'... completely egregious to block the public's right to know and suppress the media in any instance, and especially in cases of international corruption involving politicians and subsidiaries of a public organisation.

'Despite the legal implications WikiLeaks publishes this suppression order, as it will others, to uphold our values of freedom of information and transparency of government - the Australian people have a right to know, we work to ensure this right for them, even when their government tries to obstruct it.'

WikiLeaks suggests there has not been a comparable 'blanket suppression order' since 1995 when the Australian government sought to suppress publication by Fairfax Media of details of a joint US-Australian espionage operation to bug a new Chinese embassy in Canberra.

Assange argues that the Suppression Order, together with the Australian government's recent introduction of legislation to criminalise reporting on certain types of intelligence operations, is part of

'... an increasing trend in Australia of suppressing press freedoms for the sake of politics.'

Said Assange:

'The Australian government is not just gagging the press, it is blindfolding the Australian public.'

Despite the fact that the RBA sold its share in Securency last year, it still has a commercial arrangement with that organisation and still retains Securency's sister organisation Note Printing Australia Limited (NPA) as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The Securency scandal is a turgid work still in legal and inter-country progress.

In rightly extolling the virtues of its polymer coating, the CSIRO points out that

'The substrate and the specially-developed protective overcoat prevent the absorption of moisture, sweat and grime so that the polymer banknotes stay cleaner.'

Sadly, even the attributes of the protective polymer overcoat will not overcome the grime and the slime of bribery and corruption and the wholesale fraud perpetrated upon the Australian people by some of Securency's key players and those who should have policed their conduct, including the RBA and its Board and Directors.

Suppression Orders are not the solution.

They are part of the burgeoning problem of contemporary politics, that fuels itself on lies and half-truths and seeks to fool some of the Courts some of the time and all of the people all of the time.

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