It is election time in Australia, and the electioneering took a remarkable turn Thursday night with announcements that the Australian Federal Police had raided the offices of the opposition Australian Labor Party, including that of a senior frontbencher and former communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
The moment news of the event started hitting air and radio waves, Australians were waking up to unusual scenes. Police had been effectively deployed to target the main opposition party in the country. The reasons given centred on claims made, dating back to December, about media leaks on the highly flawed National Broadband Network. The referral had stemmed from the company behind the bungled project, NBN Co.
NBN Co, in turn, agreed “under duress” to destroy photographs, numbering in the order of 34 or 35, taken by one of its employees during the police raids, under parliamentary privilege grounds cited by the ALP.
The company has been busy attempting to manufacture an image of soundness in its management over an area of expertise it has demonstrated little in. When things are bad, any slight improvement is bound to look good. “NBN,” came a company statement, “has a proven track record and has, over the last two years, met or exceeded its key targets as set by the board.”
What the raids started looking like in the second week of an election campaign was an affront to whistleblowers and, more broadly, the idea of holding a corrupt scheme to…