Australia’s curious case of Ross Cameron, MP
This post is included on Mining Analyst as it vividly demonstrates the overreach, hidden role and abusive power of domestic intelligence agency activity.
In Australia, parliamentarians have the right to vote their conscience, to cross the floor on any issue and vote with the opposition. However, parliamentary discipline is strong and members rarely do so. While members who cross the floor may be penalised by their party for doing so and find their career options constrained in the future, what is interesting is how this control is enforced by ASIO on matters it secretly declares to be national interest priorities.
ASIO, as an institution that implements establishment values, acted in a way reminiscent of notable establishment foibles from eras past such as the White Australia Policy, the Stolen Generation, and Vietnam War: it self-declared the national interest and unofficially took charge of Australia’s push to war as an issue of national importance – that the country must support the US in going to war no matter what – even an illegal, pre-emptive war.
One high profile, courageous and up-and-coming Member of Parliament, Ross Cameron, Liberal MP for Parramatta broke ranks with the governing Liberal Coalition under Prime Minister John Howard and, guided by his conscience and electorate, spoke out against the Iraq War in 2003. In Cameron’s case he found out how ASIO operates without realising the agency had targeted him in retribution for his outspoken opposition to the Howard government’s push to war in Iraq.
Ross Cameron: The below press clips reveal the public face of Cameron’s confession and infidelity but conceal the involvement of ASIO in his setup and downfall. Cameron acted honourably in calling for the truth before agreeing to declare war on Iraq and in doing so acted within his parliamentary powers, and in accordance with his duty and his conscience. Such leadership qualities resulted in an early end of his political career in a very ASIOesq way. The sordid and ruthless Machiavellian methods deployed to achieve this result are more generally associated with the behaviour of a despotic regime, not readily observable by a naive democratic public, not reported in the controlled mainstream media and virtually never find their way into the courts.
- 1. Some articles describing Cameron’s ‘convenient’ downfall:
The ‘convenience’ of the downfall and the precise timing of the release to coincide with the eve of Cameron’s re-election campaign, as well as the reliable, time tested deployment of ‘honey traps’- female agents briefed and trained to seduce their target, bear the hallmarks and motivations of an ASIO sting, which is a more credible explanation of the events than the ‘mere’ bad luck, poor judgement, career suicide, self confession and coincidence described by the mainstream media.
An editor of a mainstream newspaper would presumably not publish such a story without knowing there was an absolutely irrefutable source; concrete evidence behind such allegations that would stand up in court (presumably recordings/video). Conveniently, not one of the articles found on the web (nor elsewhere) name the woman involved in the scandal. Just as conveniently, none of the articles linked either the woman or her flatmate who just happened to be a journalist for a mainstream paper, to ASIO.
Article 1: (click) I’ve cheated: ‘Family man’ MP’s bombshell, from The Sun-Herald, August 15, 2004
Article 2: (click) Scandal MP Ross Cameron plans a return to politics From: The Daily Telegraph, September 15, 2011
At the time of writing (Dec 2011), a google search for Ross Cameron turned up multiple press clips and entries on the web. But only negative stories had survived the censors cut and remained accessible – those related to his downfall in 2003; or those that contained otherwise disparaging comments about some aspect of his subsequent endeavours. The positive articles had been removed. There were no articles found, despite wide reporting in the mainstream press of the day (2002-03), that reveal the honourable defence Cameron posed in raising the level of public debate, the risk and sacrifice he made in articulating the shortcomings of the government’s arguments presented to the public by the then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard who repeatedly cited false intelligence in a series of ill-reasoned justifications for the push to war in Iraq. Indicative of ASIO’s involvement, this very positive part of Cameron’s history has been illicitly removed from the web.
- 2. Some articles describing Cameron’s attempt to hold his government accountable:
In an effort to rewrite history, the censors from ASIO have removed all mention of Cameron’s conscientious objection to the Iraq war from the web.
The current day censors from ASIO appear to have stripped the internet bare of all material that could be construed as supportive of the honourable role Ross Cameron played in holding his Party and the Government of the day accountable for their decisions. It is expected that elected government representatives have a reliable and accountable debate in full view of the public, particularly about a matter that could see the country enter an unpopular, and possibly illegal, pre-emptive war. Cameron demonstrated political leadership, and his views reflected the general sentiment of many in his electorate and indeed the general sentiment of the country. Cameron did the right thing to speak out; his undoing was that he did so in a country that does not have a genuinely free and healthy democracy.
It is unfortunate that our intelligence agencies remove such people from public office, not to mention the methods they use to do so. Without a doubt, their methods are a national disgrace. ASIO’s covert heavy handedness deprives the country of healthy democratic debate and potential strong future political leadership.
The government’s lawyers weigh in on how elected representatives ought to behave:
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to hear the Australian Solicitor-General, Dr David Bennett speak. He was the government’s chief lawyer during the antagonistic Bush/Blair/Howard years. His legal opinion had great influence on government matters – contentious issues such as the Iraq War, as well as what legal constraints should be imposed on the country’s intelligence agencies.
It was 2006, and I was invited with a small group of 15 or 20 people to hear him talk at the Harvard Club in Sydney. Judging by my previous encounters with some of the other attendees present, the meeting was well represented by ASIO operatives.
Like many of Bennett’s contemporaries who held top political office at the time, he was suffocatingly arrogant I thought. He brashly declared that elected officials in parliament always ought to toe their party line. There was no room for compromise. It is not a unanimously held view, nor is it law, but he reduced a complex matter to a simple black and white outcome. He was unequivocal. In his view, a vote for an individual candidate always is a vote for the party they represent. As such, the candidate, if elected to office, is always duty bound to be on message and vote in accordance with their party’s dictates, on all matters, without room for individual electoral considerations.
Of course, an electorate’s reasons for voting a candidate into office can be more complex than his assessment allows – but it is evidently a simplification that enables bureaucrats to make decisions, based on binary inputs, sometimes with devastating results.
No one in the US, or Australia for that matter, anticipated at the time of the 2000 US presidential election, the likelihood that in the next presidential term the US would launch an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated intelligence, and without UN sanction. Why should every electorate in the country, and every individual representative, blithely support such a war, particularly when the burdens and benefits accrue so disproportionately across different segments of the country – why should party lines be automatically followed in such a case?
Certain electorates bear a disproportionate burden in sending their young to fight the country’s wars, especially in the US, but also in Australia – poor, uneducated adolescents bear the brunt of providing the nations shock troops and foot soldiers. Their elected representatives should be able to vote their conscience to reflect the overwhelming sentiment of their electorate when they vote to authorise sending their country to war or not. Conscription likewise – who could be expected to remain politically disengaged while the government, on a false pretext, forced their sons and daughters to go to war.
I saw the impact of war on these poorer communities firsthand – in the small desert town of Wilcox in southern Arizona which I visited a number of times from 2003 to 2008. It is an impoverished old western rail town with deserted dry dusty streets lined with low cost basic box like homes. I recall the disturbing image in its post office of a wall lined with photos of the community’s many young people who had died fighting for their country since 2003 in the Iraq War. The huge number of deaths, represented by multiple ethnicities, was a burden borne by this small community way out of proportion to the rest of the country.
Many citizens around the world protested in the lead up to the war and many thought the pre-emptive launch of the war and the war itself reflected the weakness and failure of the American and supporting western coalition soul.
Prominent Australian lawyer, Tony Fitzgerald, QC who led the investigation that exposed massive state corruption in Queensland under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, said in 2013 concerning politicians’ responsibility to the public:
“I cannot believe that people yield up the ability to act in accordance with their conscience in order to act in accordance with the directions of the party. It makes no sense to me that the faceless men tell you how to vote.”
Notwithstanding these electoral complexities, the rigid response of the intelligence agencies was intent on one thing – to destroy the careers of dissenting elected representatives, and as much of their private lives as they could reach – family life, social life – as punishment for not toeing the line. And it seemed the government’s lead lawyers were in lock step.
 Jamie Walker, 21-22 September 2013, Tony Fitzgerald Corruption Fighter, Australian Magazine.