Lunatic culture of secrecy in Australia is deeply undemocratic

Lunatic culture of secrecy in Australia is deeply undemocratic, by Greg Sheridan.

Australia is the most secretive and least accountable advanced Western democracy in the world. I come to this conclusion reluctantly after more than 40 years in journalism, including a lot of ­experience in the US, Asia and ­Europe. …

Australia has drifted into a deeply anti-democratic, anti-­disclosure mode. Both sides of politics, and some quirks in our history, are responsible. Whether in government or opposition, both parties are equally to blame. In government, parties are ­obsessed not with national security but with avoiding embarrassment, and take punitive, onerous measures. In opposition, parties are concerned to maximise embarrassment so constantly call for the criminalisation of any leak not given to them in the hope that this will ensnare someone from the government or cause general mayhem. …

Our contemporary culture of secrecy and nondisclosure is frequently absurd. A decade and a half ago I wrote a book on the US-Australia alliance for which I had broad government co-operation. Numerous questions I asked senior commanders about Australian deployments they were not ­allowed to answer. But it turned out the information was publicly available on US military websites. …

The Americans routinely provide infinitely more information, even to Australians, than the Australian government does. …

The interaction of vilification, defamation and national security laws grievously restricts free speech. I just thought you should know.