Between 1989 – 91, Bernard Collaery was the Deputy Chief Minister and Attorney General of the ACT. As a lawyer, he would go on to represent the victims of the 1997 Thredbo landslide and 2003 Canberra bushfires. In December 2013, ASIO raided the home of Bernard Collaery. His crime? Embarrassing the Government. Collaery was working on a case that threatened to expose how Australian officials had illegally bugged the offices of Timor-Leste’s Government during negotiations over the country’s underwater petroleum and gas reserves.Read More.. Read less..
For exposing this, he has been charged with breaching the Intelligence Services Act – legislation intended to stop officials leaking intelligence related to national security. We now know that the operation had nothing to do with national security. Instead, it was about gaining an unfair advantage over Timor-Leste’s Government during commercial negotiations – a misuse of Australia’s intelligence services on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.
Instead of punishing those responsible, the Government is targeting Collaery for exposing their crime. The prosecution is an attack on the rule of law and an abuse of national security powers. If successful, it will set a dangerous precedent for future whistle blowers, and anyone who seeks to hold governments accountable for their actions.