As a retired Commonwealth Public sector employee with 30 years of service, I have become progressively more concerned by the sanctioned attacks on whistle-blowers.  I am old enough to remember Watergate and am dismayed to know that under our current laws and Murdoch-controlled news media, it would be almost impossible for that story to get out today.

I was appalled by the vitriol applied by both major parties against Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, and the disgusting treatment meted out to Bradley Manning.  I was surprised and disappointed by the legal and media treatment of Freya Newman*, who should be lauded for disclosing a secret arrangement rather than being punished as though she were corrupt.

The official line has become: “the messenger is the problem, not the message or the facts behind it”.  Our world has almost become Murdoch’s dream where the story is the ‘virtuality’, and reality is obsolete.  If concerned groups persist, such as Wikileaks or Climate Scientists, then the space is flooded with hundreds of conflicting fictional stories.  Parts of this have always been so – one only has to read Roman or Greek history, or Machiavelli, to know that – but the gradual consolidation of large swathes of the world’s media under Murdoch has resulted in significant back-sliding in the past two decades.

 – David Gunn, CLA member, Southbank Vic

* who disclosed the unusual way a design scholarship was received by PM Abbott’s daughter, Frances.

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One Comment

  1. David,

    I have to concur that whistle-blowers can be vulnerable should be protected from denigration. The cases you cite are good examples

    However, there is another side. I am aware of a case involving a senior academic who was falsely accused of scientific mis-conduct. The case was prominently aired by the ABC giving the whistle-blower and her “supporter” detailed coverage. The accused had been suspended pending and investigation and, other than stating that the claims were incorrect, was not able to defend himself. This was despite knowing that the claims were those of a former employee whose contract had not been renewed. Similarly, the supporter had heard only the whistle-blower’s version of events.

    It took two years for the university concerned to investigate and exonerate the academic, in part due to the complainant introducing new “facts” during the process. Now that the academic concerned has been cleared and allowed to return to work, there seems to be no interest in the ABC or other media in correcting the misleading impression the initial reports left. For a career that depends entirely on raising funds for future research this is immensely damaging.

    By all means, whistle-blowers should be protected – in general they help protect us all. But we should not overlook the need for fairness and avoid trial by media.

    Norman Jessup

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