A quiet word

Apparently, the Director-General of ASIO has been getting in touch, quietly, with a number of government MPs, warning them that their anti-Islamic comments are potentially damaging to national security. They have been complaining about this as an infringement of free speech. Their comments have been made to News Corporation publications (which have published similar comments and could be subject to the same criticism). Julie Bishop has defended ASIO’s actions, but she is in the wrong.

It’s highly unlikely that the MPs in question would have been upset if ASIO had warned off MPs who were seen as being too soft on terrorism. But their hypocrisy doesn’t justify ASIO’s intervention in politics. Both MPs and newspapers are entitled to freedom of speech, and shouldn’t have security officials telling them what to say or not to say.

On the other hand, freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Having accepted the judgement that government MPs are acting in a manner prejudicial to national security, Turnbull and Bishop can’t sit on their hands. They should be telling the MPs in question to choose between keeping quiet and moving to the cross-benches, where they can say whatever they like without implicating the government.

51 thoughts on “A quiet word

  1. @Tim Macknay

    Yes Tim, I guess it would be wise if you didn’t waste both our precious time.

    But if you could allow yourself one last response, I am intrigued by your comment that my comment to you “was a response to a remark of mine to another commenter. I replied out of politeness although your tone seemed unaccountably angry”.

    Apart from not grasping the relevance of your response being to another commenter, my question is: how did you determine that my tone was “unaccountably angry” ? I am quite fascinated by how people decide such

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