'I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information' ~ Christopher Hitchens
'Under every guilty secret there is hidden a brood of guilty wishes, whose unwholesome infecting life is cherished by the darkness' ~ George Eliot
LIKE, I SUSPECT, many of us it is not often that I am guilty of underestimating the standards of our country's mainstream media, such that they are, but I admit to making a grievous error in the Ashbygate issue. It has been approximately 16 months since Peter Slipper was elected to the Speaker's chair in the House of Reps; about 11 months since the discredited claims of his former staffer, James Ashby, were shouldered triumphantly into the public discourse by the guileful Steve Lewis; about 10 months and 3 weeks since major players Mal Brough and Chris Pyne were caught lying about their involvement and over 4 months since Federal Court judge Justice Steven Rares threw the claims out of court identifying them as the fraudulently concocted political assassination attempt that they were. Now here, I thought, is a story with all the elements that would, on any other day, in any other country, about any other political party, give the mainstream media enough fuel to launch two weeks' worth of front page scandal and months' worth of investigative journalism. Furthermore, in his judgement, Justice Rares provided enough information to initiate police investigations from several directions.
What do we, as citizens of one of the supposedly best democracies in the world, have as remedy for this travesty against our parliament, our democracy and our community? Nothing. Not just the nothing of the too hard basket or the not sufficiently interesting but the nothing of the proverbial elephant. The nothing that serves, in its silence, as the screaming clarion call that exposes the mainstream media as not servant of the people and protector of democracy, but as a tool of those that seek to control the citizenry and work against democracy. Many of us knew 16 months ago that this whole issue was a complete stitch up. In the intervening year and a bit, many of us thought – as more of the facts became known – that surely the institutions of press and police would be forced to act. How disturbing it is that they sit comfortably on their hands not even troubled to bother with an excuse for their undemocratic inactivity. As repeated and constant calls for action ring out across social media platforms and independent blogs and news sites – and are utterly ignored – it becomes apparent that, like no time in recent history, the responsibility for decent journalism, the kind of liberty preserving vigilance, lies with us, the citizens. The journalists and the institutions have shown they can no longer be trusted.
The idea was born in the comments section of an article posted on this venerable site. If we want coverage, and action, we are going to have to do it ourselves. The excellent and freedom championing work of the likes of David Donovan, Vince O'Grady, Ross Jones and others is unfortunately not enough to progress and unravel these sordid events to the point that they are understood by every Australian who has an interest in the future of our democracy. There are many of us that have the heart for this fight. We are fuelled by a passion for freedom, fairness and the future prospects of our society, but what stops us competing with the vested interests of the corporations and the political parties is money. We need money. We need money to investigate, and we need money to prosecute. We need money to force our way to the truth. We need money to shine the light into the dark places.
The idea is that we establish a trust. David Donovan himself has agreed to manage it. The trust will seek contributions in the form of pledges that will only be called upon should we will reach a minimum target of $50,000. The objective of the trust will be to engage lawyers and private investigators to make sufficient preparations such that the case against Mal Brough, Christopher Pyne, James Ashby and other co-conspirators can be run as a private prosecution. The trust will be run as a not for profit under the guidance of David Donovan. I will be assisting him in administrative functions, as I hope others will also. All expenditures will be transparently accounted for in a discrete section of the Independent Australia domain. Major decisions will be discussed and voted upon in a democratic fashion, whereby every $100 contribution gets one vote in proceedings. Of course actions and discoveries of the trust will be reported on in detail at Independent Australia and hopefully more broadly in the wider media.
If this sounds like an action you would like to support please indicate, by pledging financial support (just pledges, please don't transfer any money yet) via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, we will make enquiries to prepare a draft trust proposal and seek legal advice and costing information from lawyers and private investigators. The fight is on people, let's join together so we can stick it right up 'em.
(Pledge your financial support for the Ashbygate Trust today. And catch up on the full Ashbygate investigation on IA by clicking here.)
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