I attended a presentation by Professor John Keane (Director, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Sydney University) at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in Sydney 19 November 2013.
The title of his presentation was “People Power in Global Politics”. I found it commendable that he praised the good works of Wikileaks for exposing government corruption and its role in helping to strengthen democracy, yet odd that he had been very critical of the Wikileaks Party during a previous presentation at Sydney University in the lead up to the earlier September Australian federal election, an election in which the Wikileaks Party was standing several highly qualified and credible candidates.
Why did professor Keane attack the Wikileaks Party in such an overtly political way by making detrimental statements in the lead up to the election given his evident ideological support now?
Alison Broinowski, a candidate for the Wikileaks Party, who was also in the AIIA audience, asked him a question about this inconsistency, however, in answering he evaded the substance of her question. Moreover, another member of AIIA in the audience, who had contributed nothing to the conversation, burst out very forcefully in his defence calling out something to the effect that Alison’s question was nonsense and didn’t need to be responded to. It was an attempt to disrupt the exchange and change the topic – evidently coming to the professor’s aid in an attempt to save him the embarrassment of having to respond to a very good, well targeted question.
Professor Keane’s inconsistent but well timed statements in public, at a critical time in the electoral cycle, damaging to the Wikileaks Party election prospects, and the odd defence he received from a member of the audience who aggressively came to his defence, has the hallmarks of ASIO interference all over it, something I have become quite familiar with over the years. The only vehement attacks I heard against the Wikileaks Party and Julian Assange in the run up to the September federal election came from government intelligence minions.
Unfortunately, ASIO is not required to disclose its surveillance and interference operations in Australia, even when directed against a political party or any other of its equally nefarious activities designed to further establishment interests. Further, I think back to my college days, reminded of when some of these eccentric looking old men and women professors were quietly sounding out individual students on whether they might like to interview for an agency job – fulfilling the role of resident recruitment officer, a ‘talent-spotter’ or campus ‘agent provocateur’ for some intelligence agency on campus.
If democracy means freedom of the people to choose, then we fall short of the definition in Australia.