The following speech is brought to you by the Australian Government and is satirical in nature.
My fellow Oceanians, rejoice- for the Brave New World we have long sought will soon be within our grasp. Rejoice, for we the Authoritarian- sorry, Australian government- are closer than ever to establishing a police state in which all people will be free! Free from the burdens of thought and self-determination. Free from the looming fear of disagreement and dissent. Free from the destructive influence of those disruptive voices who would undermine Big Brother. Today we celebrate the steps we have taken to reach this point- and prepare ourselves for a bold new future of unparalleled safety and security.
As citizens of Australia, you are a privileged few. Australia is the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights. We are the only member of the Five Eyes Alliance with no explicit protection of journalists in the exercise of search warrants. And because we have more “national security” laws than any other nation, our government is in the best possible position to keep you safe from dangerous ideas- whether or not you actually want us to.
Since 9/11, we've passed more than 82 national security laws allowing us to persecute and prosecute any voice that speaks out against us. And that’s just the beginning. Because in order to truly create a better world, we must make examples of all those who’d dare question our actions and authority.
Whistleblowers are one such group. Consider the case of Richard Boyle: a former Australian Tax Office employee who revealed that the ATO was targeting vulnerable people for debt collection through a wide range of “unethical” tactics. Naturally, he paid the price for his “moral compass” and “sense of justice”. Thanks to us, he now faces 161 years in prison.
Former ASIS agent Witness K suffered a similar fate. In the lead up to a lucrative oil and gas deal, we instructed ASIS to bug key government offices in Timor-Leste to give us an advantage at the negotiating table. Does it matter that using ASIS to defraud our neighbours is illegal under the ACT’s criminal code? Of course not! We’re the government. We decide what’s right. And in this case, we decided that cheating one of the poorest nations on earth out of 7 billion dollars worth of their own resources was the right thing to do. But Witness K did not see it that way and decided to expose the details of this operation to the public. Of course, we still intend to give him and his lawyer a fair hearing- which is why we’re pushing to try both of them in a secret court.
And who could forget David McBride, a military lawyer who revealed the supposed “war crimes” of Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan. These included the killing of unarmed men and children- killings we intentionally covered up! Thanks to the undue outrage his actions caused, McBride now faces 50 years in prison.
But whistleblowers are only one piece of the much larger threat. The true enemies of the people are journalists. Journalists would have you believe that a free and open press is the beating heart of any democratic society. They’d tell you that whistleblowers who reveal information in the public interest are heroes for putting their very freedom on the line for the sake of their principles. They’d tell you that a free press is necessary to hold authorities accountable and to prevent abuses of power. Do not believe such slanderous lies. Why would the government need to be held accountable for anything? The idea that we would act in a way that doesn’t reflect your interests is unthinkable! After all, we alone know what’s best for you.
That’s why we’ve ramped up our war on journalism over the past decade. Last year, we had the Thought Police- I meant "Australian Federal Police"- raid ABC offices, demanding the fingerprints of two senior journalists who had published a news story based on the Afghan files leaked by McBride. Why? So we could prosecute them, of course! Just a day earlier, the police raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst, whose story revealed our plans to give the Australian Signals Directorate greater powers to covertly spy on all of you. Why would we do this? It's simple! In Australia, journalism is a crime. In Australia, criticising the government is a crime. And through these raids, we have set a very clear precedent- question us and you will pay the price. These dramatic and well-publicised raids will have chilling effects for decades to come, making people less and less likely to speak out.
But by far one of our proudest accomplishments has been the expansion of the surveillance state. In Australia, metadata retention laws force telecoms providers to store all metadata for two years, allowing us to access an unparalleled amount of information regarding your communications. Other laws allow us to secretly collect and monitor your browsing history, social media activity, SMSs and emails. But one obstacle remained, making it harder for us to spy on- sorry, protect- our nation: Encryption. So to overcome this hurdle, we devised the Assistance and Access Bill, which compels communications providers to give us details about technical characteristics and exploitable weaknesses of their systems- compromising the last line of defence between you and our prying eyes. Some might call all of this a gross violation of privacy and civil liberties- but isn’t privacy an acceptable sacrifice for the sake of security?
Imagine a nation without disagreement. A nation devoid of thoughtcrime. A nation where every idea, word and action is tirelessly monitored by our beloved, benevolent Big Brother. Thanks to you, this nation is no mere fiction- it’s almost here. Because none of this would have been possible without you. If you had not stayed silent as we systematically stripped you of your rights and liberties, we would never have been able to take them from you. If you had all chosen to speak up while we imprisoned our critics and prosecuted whistleblowers, the venomous influence of a free press would still plague our nation. If you had more furiously protested our construction of a surveillance state, some semblance of privacy might have still existed in Australia. For all the voices we’ve actively silenced, none of our achievements would have been possible had you, the Australian public, not chosen to be silent.
So if you wish to continue helping us create an era of unprecedented stability and security, the steps you need to take are simple. Don’t bother educating yourself on key political or social issues- you need only trust that we have your best interests at heart. Don’t think critically about how the tools you provide us could be misused because as we’ve reiterated, we only ever use our powers in reasonable and proportionate ways. And most importantly, don’t speak out. The next time we rob you of your rights or tighten our stranglehold on the free press, do not be tempted to raise your voice in protest. Because as much as we do to silence voices through force, we’d much rather your voices be silenced by choice.