Can’t anyone keep secrets anymore?

The furor over the AFP raid of the AWU premises to gather information about donations to GetUp! has embroiled Minister Cash (who is one of the more effective Ministers in the Turnbull Government) in controversy as the media was tipped off and present at the raid.

The Registered Organisations Commission – an independent statutory agency – secured a search warrant from a magistrate and this was executed by the AFP. That should have been the end of it – the media should never have heard of the raid until after the event. Had that been so, the Government would not be embroiled in any controversy, and depending on the material seized the pressure would be on the AWU and GetUp!.

Instead there has been an attack on two independent institutions – the AFP and the AEC – as well as Minister Cash.

It seems that a staffer in Cash’s office exercised extremely poor judgement in alerting the media to an impending raid. That was stupid.

But why was the Minister’s office informed of an impending raid in the first place? Was it from the ROC or the AFP? Either way they should not have divulged  that information. What it someone in the ROC or the AFP who also alerted the media? Certainly the AWU and GetUp! benefit from knowing about the raid before it happened – documents can be destroyed. And by alerting the media it can deflect the pressure that would otherwise sit entirely on the AWU and GetUp!

So there you have it – no one can keep a secret. Whether it be poor judgement (Cash’s staffer), political deflection (ROC or AFP staff) it is a disgrace that has damaged the rule of law. If some Labor supporter in the ROC and/or AFP alerted the media to the raid, he or she has acted unethically and should be sacked.

About Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

I'm a retired general who occasionally gets called back to save the republic before returning to my plough.
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44 Responses to Can’t anyone keep secrets anymore?

  1. Irked

    However, even Labor has been falling over itself to exonerate the AFP, stating that they are only doing their job, which is fine.

    What irks me, and to your point, not only does it damage the rule of law, the very process is open to question. This leak is a non-event. Sure, it should not have happened, but the left love to use loud, persistent, language as a response to a matter that should be dealt with by due process.

    I cannot offer evidence, but they think that more laws are going to solve the moral failings of a few. More laws are the last thing we need, as if we pay them to sit in Canberra to churn out laws.

  2. The Oz highlights our very own deep state in this piece of theatre.
    “The Nine and Seven networks, which have not divulged their sources”
    and
    “…union leaders have publicly said they received information from journalists about the role of Senator Cash’s office in tipping-off the media.”

    So journalists will not divulge their sources EXCEPT to the unions.

  3. Tel

    Having the media there is perfectly reasonable… justice must be done, and justice must be SEEN to be done. That is how the rule of law operates.

    However, the bigger question is whether the AWU was tipped off in advance and thus able to hide evidence.

    If some Labor supporter in the ROC and/or AFP alerted the media to the raid, he or she has acted unethically and should be sacked.

    I thought it was actually illegal to interfere with a police investigation. Something about perverting the course of justice, if I recall.

  4. stackja

    ALP seems to have friendly AFP.

  5. entropy

    It is yet another example of the malaise in political party processes these days. Ministerial advisers, who an innocent make think is supposed to know stuff about the portfolio, are typically young factional warriors being groomed for future political office and in truth know nothing except student union political games and their own self inflated importance.

    I think one way to improve this is if the staffer goes off the reservation the minister has to fall on their sword too.

  6. John Constantine

    If they ever were to raid a mosquebunker after a fat jihadi said he was supplied or indoctrinated there, we all understand that there would be a leak of plans in advance, to prevent anything embarrassing being on the premises when the raid did occur.

  7. entropy

    Also, the LNP never learn: the media are not, and never will be, your friends.

  8. Judith Sloan

    Cash is hopeless in her portfolio by the way. Just plays stupid political games badly. All her bills in abeyance. Incompetence springs to mind.

  9. entropy

    I kinda recall when Ian Macfarlane, toad that he was, still had the honour to resign from the opposition ministry when one of his staffers opened and read misdirected correspondence to the indigenous affairs minister Robert ticknell re Hindmarsh island.

  10. Woolfe

    One mans poor judgement is another persons greed. Staffer will probably get a gig at their ABC

  11. miltonf

    I imagine she’s one of the 54 too

  12. A Lurker

    It seems that a staffer in Cash’s office exercised extremely poor judgement in alerting the media to an impending raid.

    Poor judgement? More likely a rat in the ranks, or at the very least, attempting to win brownie points with the media.

  13. dauf

    More likely she knew all about it and the staffer is just scapegoat who will now be rewarded (or at least promise that)…they are so bad and self-interested, that most thinking people are now totally cynical about the whole political ‘class’

  14. candy

    Not sure about the seriousness of the documents as I thought the Trade Union RC had highlighted Bill Shorten’s dealings anyway?

    But there could be other circumstances, such as crimes of p**dophilia or drug dealing, something dangerous to citizens – where proof is destroyed, as we can’t trust ministerial staffers not to blab about a raid.

    I tend to think Minister Cash should step down. This could have been so much worse.

  15. entropy

    I don’t think the RC got around to those particular issues candy. It was a very target rich environment after all.

  16. If some Labor supporter in the ROC and/or AFP alerted the media to the raid, he or she has acted unethically and should be sacked.

    LOL no, you can’t blame Labor for this one. This is all on the Libs, and Cash in particular. This is another test of the principle of ministerial accountability. The Libs have had a spotty record on that since Howard.

  17. Entropy

    Monty is right. Even if the original tip off was a labor mole, the shenanigans in Cash’s office, and the fact she mislead a senate committee, is grounds for seppuku for the staffer and Cash.

  18. stackja

    Entropy
    #2534272, posted on October 27, 2017 at 9:11 am

    is grounds for seppuku for all MPs. MSM too!

  19. Andreas

    the media was tipped off and present at the raid.

    Doesn’t that happen ALL THE TIME. Relatives of mine were once raided by the police and magically there were the media arriving at the exact same time. When they’re trying to distract from Shorten using the AWU as his personal campaign piggy bank suddenly it’s a big story.

  20. Neil

    But why was the Minister’s office informed of an impending raid in the first place? Was it from the ROC or the AFP? Either way they should not have divulged that information

    Apparently it was the media who informed the staffer and then the staffer then informed someone else in the media.

  21. lotocoti

    There isn’t a TV newsroom CoS who will say no to covering a police raid.
    If there are no piccies, a lot of people can pretend there’s no story effecting their Bill.
    But once the word was out, everybody had to cover it, because that’s the nature of the business.

  22. Andreas

    Remember there were zero consequences for the CFMEU having the shredders working on over-drive and moving a dump-trucks worth of documents to the tip before a raid on their offices. But the media being alerted about a raid is apparently a massive deal and huge scandal.

  23. Procrustes

    Entropy, you must be as ancient as me because I can’t recall ministers resigning because wrong doing for a long time (eg the 1997 travel rorts affair). Standards have slipped.

    But that’s not the half of it – it’s what they are legally doing in their jobs (energy policy, populist economic policy, I could go on) that is more damaging.

  24. Up The Workers!

    This farce of tipping off the presstitutes prior to the event, has been going on for decades, and will continue for decades to come.

    The A.L.P./Communist Party’s ‘Human Bagpipe’, “Wee Doogie Cameron” has been bloviating in his impenetrable Scottish brogue apparently to the effect that some dastardly crime has been committed by whoever cruelly activated the virulently Labor brown-tongued toady-presstitutes and maliciously got them all out of bed to cover what turned out to be merely a rare Liberal event – rather than their normal pre-arranged Labor ones.

    These confected “pre-arranged press events” can also be stage-managed for vote-catching sympathy, or as a “look over there” diversion whenever somebody has blotted their own copybook seriously enough to warrant it.

    I recall the case a couple of decades ago when a certain Labor Senator, caught rorting the Parliamentary ‘living-away-from-home-allowance’ by bunking in at his mum’s place in his old bedroom, was claiming the full Parliamentary allowance as though paying top dollar in a luxury hotel.

    As a confected diversion, he contacted the local Fauxfacts and A.L.P.B.C. rabid rapid-response team of dedicated A.L.P. propagandists; allowed them sufficient time to complete their bustling and jostling one-another for the best camera positions along the pathway outside, and then rang the ambulance and said he was about to end it all.

    By the time the ambulance showed up, they had to run the gauntlet of presstitute Labor propaganda toadies and amidst all the “sympathy shots” of the pollie being carted out on a stretcher, the fuss over his crass dishonesty and rorting was completely forgotten about. The pollie had swallowed a non-lethal number of pills and after a flush with a stomach pump, made a full recovery to go back and continue sucking the taxpayers’ teat to his hearts’ content.

    Regarding the ex-staffer from Michaelia Cash’s Office, I recall that when some scumbag from Juliar Gillard’s crack propaganda toadie team was caught confecting a phoney race riot out the front of Parliament House a few years ago, he was repaid by the Party (perhaps with the collusion of Goebbels McTurdan) by being sent over to Britain to work for Tony Blair’s campaign.

    A.L.P. – Always Lying to the Punters!

  25. Don’t forget the infamous colour TV set affair involving Michael MacKellar and John Moore.
    1982. Two ministers resigned.

  26. hzhousewife

    Didn’t Ley resign over a cab fare?

  27. H B Bear

    Ministerial advisers, who an innocent make think is supposed to know stuff about the portfolio, are typically young factional warriors being groomed for future political office and in truth know nothing except student union political games and their own self inflated importance.

    This. If you are going to have these undergraduate bozos running around in Parliament, accountable to no-one, then they are the Minister for all intents and purposes. Once a couple of Ministers lose their six figure salaries thanks to their actions there might not be so many of them around and they would be kept on a much shorter leash.

  28. Leo G

    LOL no, you can’t blame Labor for this one. This is all on the Libs, and Cash in particular. This is another test of the principle of ministerial accountability.

    The PM should be held to account not the Minister- Ministers have only limited responsibility for their staffers’ actions even though those actions may not be transparent.
    This staffer appears to have been given information in advance of an AFP operation that the security of the operation was compromised, and rather than immediately notifying his Minister and the AFP, acted to further compromise the operation by giving the critical information to other media groups.
    The staffer further aggravated the situation by not subsequently briefing the Minister.
    In whose interest was the staffer acting? Clearly not the Minister’s. The PMO perhaps? Who knows?
    Nor is Labor’s pursuit of Cash aimed at getting to the truth of the matter. Oppositions have the power to force ministerial staff to front Senate committees, but generally don’t use the power. The truth is likely to be as inconvenient as the precedent.

  29. Snoopy

    The AFP are investigating the AWU leak. This could get interesting. If I have understood some reports correctly, Cash’s adviser apparently received notice of the raid from someone in the media and he then at least one other in the media who gave him up to Buzzfeed. Of course any investigation will be hampered by journalists’ obligations to protect sources.

    That the adviser learnt of the raid from someone in the media may explain his tardiness in fessing up to Cash.

  30. Snoopy

    Since so many knew of the raid, what are the odds that the AWU didn’t learn of the raid in advance? That’s maybe the real reason for the leak in the first place.

  31. NB

    I’m with Tel, above. There is a criminal aspect to this. Sackings probably should only be the beginning. The media are complicit in the criminality as well.
    Mind you, the whole investigation is a pretty poor effort. Malcolm might be better occupied ensuring we actually have electricity, have an internet, can sell our resources, have some industry left, and so forth. Maybe, just maybe, he might discover something called the free market and win the next election by creating prosperity, rather than focussing on using state resources to crush a political opponent.

  32. The PM should be held to account not the Minister- Ministers have only limited responsibility for their staffers’ actions even though those actions may not be transparent.

    Cash misled Parliament five times. Misleading Parliament is a serious offence.

    If you still believe Cash didn’t know she was lying, I have a bridge over the Sea of Tranquillity to sell you.

  33. Norman Church

    I am with Professor Sloan. Minister Cash has been a poor performer. Far too concerned with gesture politics than the hard business of selling much-needed productivity reforms.

  34. Roger

    Having the media there is perfectly reasonable… justice must be done, and justice must be SEEN to be done. That is how the rule of law operates.

    That principle relates to court proceedings, not police raids.

  35. Bruce of Newcastle

    The AFP has a whole media liaison group to alert journos to exactly this sort of thing.

    The Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Media team facilitates requests from media organisations in Australia and around the world on a daily basis. The team is committed to forging a professional partnership with the media.

    Yesterday the media were there ready with cameras when the alleged money launderers were raided in SW Sydney. Why wouldn’t they also be alerted to the raid on the AWU?

  36. Leo G

    Cash misled Parliament five times. Misleading Parliament is a serious offence.

    Misleading Parliament is not necessarily a serious matter nor necessarily an offence. Making a deliberately misleading statement could be held to be a contempt of Parliament- and could be a serious offence- but the evidence is clear that Cash’s misleading statements were not deliberate, and readily explained by the Minister not being in a position to consult her staff and her reasonable assumption that her staff would not act improperly without promptly notifying her of the event.

  37. Allan

    I don’t agree with the comment:
    “But why was the Minister’s office informed of an impending raid in the first place? Was it from the ROC or the AFP? Either way they should not have divulged that information. ”
    Departments of state and statutory authorities need to keep their minister informed of any significant action to avoid embarrassing them. Ministers, quite rightly, don’t like surprises. That is standard practice,which is not to say in the case of statutory authorities Ministers can interfere. The ROC would have done the right thing in letting Cash’s office know. And if she hadn’t established the culture to prevent her office racing off to the media, be it on her own head.

  38. Boambee John

    m0nty at 1040

    Cash misled Parliament five times. Misleading Parliament is a serious offence.

    If you still believe Cash didn’t know she was lying, I have a bridge over the Sea of Tranquillity to sell you.

    I was on the periphery of an incident in the 1970s when the then Defence Minister (Killen) inadvertently misled Parliament. Neither he nor the responsible military officers who briefed him were aware of the facts, because lower level staff had not briefed them on the matter.

    Killen repeated his statement several times, but was forced to apologise when he was briefed on the true facts (which the ALP clearly knew).

    The ALP almost certainly knew the facts because a member of Bill Hayden’s staff, in a different role, was involved in the original matter that the ALP was pursuing. Never trust an ALP member, to them political advantage trumps all else.

  39. Roger

    Yesterday the media were there ready with cameras when the alleged money launderers were raided in SW Sydney. Why wouldn’t they also be alerted to the raid on the AWU?

    Especially when the AFP is trying to justify itself in the face of budget cuts.

  40. Tel

    That principle relates to court proceedings, not police raids.

    If some part of the process is opaque then all the other parts lose credibility.

    We are well beyond the stage where any person can get away with saying, “Just trust me, I’ve got this”.

  41. Pedro the Ignorant

    You have to wonder what sort of safeguards are in place to protect AFP operations from exposure.

    Why would the AFP officially alert the media that a raid was about to take place or warrants to be served?

    Was there a rat in the AFP who leaked the timing of the AWU raids?

    If so, what was his purpose? To ensure media coverage of a situation very embarrassing to the ALP and Shorten in particular and bathe Senator Cash in the glow of righteousness, or give the AWU time to crank up the shredders?

    Another “gotcha” from the Libs that has backfired badly on them.

    Par for the course for this useless pack of cretins.

  42. Tator

    Bloody ALP has form for even worse. During the Largs North Primary School Sex crime investigation, the Education Dept failed to inform the parents on what was going on. This was passed onto one of Jay Weatherdills staffers who then failed to advise Weatherdill who was the Education Minister at the time. This staffer actually got a payrise and a promotion out of wearing this as did the staffer of Gillard’s who leaked that Tony Abbott was at an Australia Day ceremony and passed on the false information that Abbott was going to close the Tent Embassy. So they came and caused a ruckus, thoroughly embarrassing Gillard when she went arse over tit in the hubbub, he resigned and got a cushy job with an ALP booster in London and has since rejoined the ALP staffers ranks. So hypocrisy writ large by the ALP is all I can see.

  43. Linden

    what makes me angry with the stupid Liberals and their even stupider staff members, are they so wet behind the ears that they don’t even realise how often they give the many bent union laborites and even break, what’s the old saying, don’t give a sucker a break! The likes or Cash and co are past masters at it. They are even too stupid to realise that Shorten and his acolytes are so well schooled in the art of dirty politics, so well attuned to manipulating and orchestrating machiavellian deception for pure political gain, they do not need any assistance ably provided to them by a bunch a green horns called Liberal staffers. If only Pauline Hanson had the gift of the gab like Natale

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