There is a very troubling story in The Australian this morning:
On Monday, Allan Gyngell, former head of the Office of National Assessments, foreign policy adviser to Paul Keating, honorary professor at the ANU and a board director of the China Matters institute, briefed the Labor frontbench on the need for “sensible engagement” with China.
Professor Gyngell also told a virtual meeting of the shadow cabinet that The Wolverines group was “immature, juvenile and destructive”.
Dennis Richardson, a former ambassador to Washington and head of ASIO, Defence and Foreign Affairs, addressed the ALP legal and foreign affairs caucus on Australia-China relations.
Mr Richardson, who advocates firm Australian stances on China, said in a Zoom meeting that The Wolverines ginger group of MPs and senators — including Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who is chair of the intelligence and security committee — “adds no value” to the Australia-China debate.
Now it doesn’t worry me that private citizens might think that politicians are “immature, juvenile and destructive” and “add no value”. I’ve probably thought that myself. It might even be true.
What worries me is that these individuals have held very high ranking positions in the security apparatus of the state. They seem to be contemptuous of elected representatives of the Australian people. To be fair, I’m sure they could and would argue that they scrupulously performed their duty in their jobs. They probably did and I have no reason to suggest that they didn’t. Nonetheless, reading the story makes me uncomfortable.
The irony, of course, is that the leaking of the story itself is “unhelpful”.