Australia: Relaxed, Sunny and Secretive?

The Australia Letter is a weekly e-newsletter from our Australia bureau. Signal as much as get it by e-mail. This week’s situation is written by Isabella Kwai, a reporter with the bureau.

Australia has a world popularity for being a sunny, relaxed democracy with a affluent financial system (and good espresso). However one other side of the nation emerged this week after the federal police strode into the places of work of the nation’s public broadcaster with a broad search warrant for info associated to a narrative about doable conflict crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The message to the world? That is additionally a rustic with a deep choice for presidency secrecy.

Actually, while you have a look at Australia’s legal guidelines and its vary of investigations focused at whistleblowers, there’s a robust case to be made that that is the world’s most secretive democracy — as Damien Cave wrote this week.

What’s attention-grabbing is that the federal government’s efforts have created each worldwide outrage, and one thing that’s fairly uncommon in Australian media: a way of unity.

Maybe as a result of the raid on the Australian Broadcasting Company got here only a day after a raid on the house of a Information Corp. journalist who wrote a few authorities plan to extend surveillance, the partisan rivalries that normally divide the media right here gave technique to a broader sense of collective outrage.

The query for a lot of now’s how the Australian public will react to the erosion of press freedom and the focusing on of whistleblowers.

Which is why we’re asking you: Do you suppose the federal government went too far in seizing information and paperwork from journalists? Is Australia too secretive? And whether it is, what do you suppose may very well be accomplished to decrease the broadly accepted lack of transparency?

Write to us at or be a part of us within the NYT Australia Fb group.

We additionally encourage you to ask questions you probably have them, about secrecy, the media and Australia’s method to transparency. Right here’s a solution to 1 latest query from a reader in our Fb group.

“If a New York primarily based newspaper had damaged the information, how profitable would the Australian Federal Police be in getting their warrants? Does the ABC want to maneuver it’s headquarters offshore to guard their independence? Does the New York Instances have a cubicle or two to spare within the pursuits of a free press?”

Our places of work listed below are on Australian soil, that means we’re as topic to Australian search warrants as native media shops. However the raids have truly led us to contemplate whether or not we’d like a plan for transferring delicate supplies and correspondence to New York to keep away from the Australian arm of the regulation.

At a time when the media is underneath siege all around the world, and when governments are decided to punish those that share info that’s embarrassing to politicians and officers, the raids are additionally a reminder of one thing that David Barstow, one among our most celebrated investigative journalists, usually tells new reporters at The Instances: You’re by no means secure and you’ve got a accountability to guard your sources.

One resolution he suggests: Destroy your notes and wipe your individual information clear; it’s the one wa to verify the federal government by no means exploits what we do for its personal ends.


Different in style tales we suggest:

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A Farewell for iTunes: Apple’s software program modified the best way we take heed to music. And although it bought a little bit bloated through the years, we’ll miss it, writes Kevin Roose.

Madonna At 60: From the New York Instances Journal, the unique queen of pop on getting old, inspiration and why she refuses to cede management.


In final week’s e-newsletter, I visited a gallery of Chinese language up to date artwork in Sydney and wrote about how I discovered it’s human focus compelling. A few of you argued that its not possible to divorce artwork and politics.

“Most of what you describe within the exhibition appears exceptionally political to me, particularly contemplating the picture of political worry that China radiates to Australians. Is there a motive we must always not ‘package deal’ artwork as a basically political discourse? Does selling troublesome (political) artwork as an awareness-raising train (serving to us construct empathy) present a extra palatable technique to eat artwork at the moment?

I profess to be barely upset within the dilution of the politics of artwork that the media usually portrays by means of their inclusive type. I’m reminded of the best way that the avant-garde has been handled to normal eye-rolling previously, however is now lapped up by the lots as the most recent fashionable type of oppositionality. Is it the agenda of the media to get bums on seats in a gallery, or to report on a political motion that’s realized by means of artwork for what it truly is – a political motion?””

– Emma Dallamora

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