Blogging Senate #Estimates (Feb 2014) (Part 7)

‘You can’t tell us the truth. You can’t tell the Australian public the truth because you might upset an international neighbour?’

Senator Conroy: “That’s called a political cover-up, you’re engaged in a political cover-up”

Lt. Gen. Campbell: “I take extreme offence at the statement you have just made.”

[This comment was later withdrawn but there was apparently no apology]

You have to hand it to Stephen Conroy. The Opposition’s Shadow Defence Minister telling the highest profile military individual in the country he is central to a political coverup. 

It didn’t stop until the committee was suspended.

Conroy certainly has a better grasp on the theatrics of the Estimate’s hearing. The use of the word ‘coverup’ is likely to attract attention in the media tomorrow.

Normally I am wary of these types of statements. Poor civil discourse is not typically not a good sign for public policy outcomes.

However… the complete lack of transparency around particular matters specifically relating to Operation Sovereign Borders raises important considerations, including the use of aggressive questioning.

Further, by drawing the military into the political realm, a level of discomfort is raised for the military and for the government. This is difficult ground given the important differences in the military and politics. I’m not sure what the end outcome is, but it seems Senator Conroy’s blast will at a minimum spark a renewed discussion about the role of information and asylum policy.

Quickly, on language. Here is a brief Q&A from earlier:

“Is that a correct statement?”

“It’s not incorrect.”

No-one said this was easy.

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