“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”
This famous line was first penned in 1808 by the great Scottish poet, novelist and historian, Sir Walter Scott.
Although it was written more than 200 years ago, it describes almost perfectly the sordid entrails of the unresolved Heiner affair in 2020 with all its tangled mess of compounding abuses of power, trying to keep a lid on its reeking corruption.
The web of deceit, woven over 3 decades by many in high public office, has finally seen these politicians and bureaucrats entangle themselves in a hangman’s knot.
Their only defence now is immobility, lest they fall into the damning public glare of utter disgrace and prosecution by finally doing the right thing.
Australians are entitled to know, that since September 2017 a life-time suppression order of silence has been imposed on me by the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC).
This is my first public notification of its existence.
This repugnant “gag” is presently being tolerated at my convenience, not theirs.
This “gag” doesn’t just affect me. All those who cherish their freedoms, desire open and accountable government, and (not least) to be able to enjoy our constitutional right to engage in political communication, are affected.
If we allow ourselves to be kept in the dark about vital political information by those in power, we will quickly return to the Dark Ages – when speaking truth to power was either a death sentence, a passport to jail or exile.
This self-serving “gag” mocks what Judge Mason J said (in a relevant judgement in Commonwealth of Australia v John Fairfax and Sons Ltd (1980) 147 CLR 39 at 27):
“…It may be a sufficient detriment to the citizen that disclosure of information relating to his affairs
will expose his actions to public discussion and criticism. But it can scarcely be a relevant detriment to
the government that publication of material concerning its actions will merely expose it to public
discussion and criticism. It is unacceptable in our democratic society that there should be a restraint on
the publication of information relating to government when the only vice of that information is that it
enables the public to discuss, review and criticize government action.”
Justice Anthony Mason
I would face contempt charges if I were to publicly recount critically important events that took place during and after the 2012/13 Carmody Commission of Inquiry and my recent dealings with the CCC, (and its watchdog Parliamentary Committee, the PCCC) from 2015 to now.
My fellow Australians may be assured, that the entire truth of this end-time period in the life of the Heiner affair will not be hidden forever – despite the best efforts of those involved.
The Richardson Post readers may be equally shocked to learn that access to the PCCC’s records is exempt from scrutiny not just for 30 years – but for 100 years!
Ask yourself, how does that wall of secrecy stack up against all the promises of full accountability in ‘post Fitzgerald Queensland’?
In particular, this matter concerns how whistle-blowers’ complaints about potentially serious official misconduct in high places may have been handled?
It is important to know that these hidden PCCC records are not about national security matters.
Instead, they are about a shocking litany of lies, deceit and betrayal of trust at the highest levels of government.
It is also about a system in dire straits, desperately trying to conceal the truth from the people about how they are really being governed when credible allegations of high-level corruption are disclosed
The fundamental democratic principle of the people’s right to know is at stake.
Plainly, this suppression order is a monumental assault on free speech.
Given what is being concealed, it is made all the more repugnant by being imposed by our democracy’s supreme institution – Parliament.
Most importantly, it is being imposed by one of Parliament’s most powerful committees which is supposed to hold the CCC to account.
This committee itself relies on free speech to function – and claims to encourage and protect whistle-blowers.
Some readers may have earlier knowledge of my long struggle for justice. Others will now be on a steep learning curve.
Yet, readers should be aware that platforms such as this one demand a degree of brevity. Therefore, while acknowledging that the devil is always in the detail, I can only recount the peak outcomes of the Heiner Affair in this forum.
I have assiduously and comprehensively documented my struggle from the very beginning.
Over time, important gaps have been filled in and unknown facts have been revealed.
Those in the system always knew about these hidden truths, but deliberately concealed them from me and the public.
False, misleading and incomplete information became their preferred modus operandi.
This series, however, is based neither on speculation nor hearsay but on known facts and related law.
The lonely, long and dusty road
I suspect that the road I have travelled for the last 3 decades still has some distance yet to go. However, everything points towards it being a much shorter distance to a resolution, than that travelled already.
Politicians, when shown the enormity of this scandal’s reach, quickly backslide away from their sworn duty to serve the public interest.
Equally, any expectation of the mainstream media doing its proper job of -telling the truth has long since evaporated.
Much therefore now depends on the strength of the public’s outrage and dissent over being played for the fool by those whom they should normally be entitled to trust to uphold the law.
Social media has now entered the scene. Unfortunately, on that medium, self-serving detractors too easily and dismissively label matters where a systemic cover-up is being alleged as nothing more than a conspiracy theory – the facts show otherwise.
For my part, the search for justice has always been a journey of faith.
Truth above politics is my constant, well-tried and reliable North Star.
I didn’t seek out this journey in 1989, but nor could I ignore what was laid on me by being in the corridors of political power in Queensland as a trade union organiser in 1990.
It was never in me to put aside my paramount duty to protect my union members’ legal/industrial interests. I was their paid servant and owed them my loyalty.
Neither did I have any moral or legal obligation or loyalty to cover the backside of the new ALP Goss Government when it was unlawfully trampling on my members’ legal/industrial rights.
I had no such intention, even though I was an ALP member at that time (though I am no longer).
I remain independent of all political parties, but have never separated myself from the core values which underpin Australia’s democratic life blood, security, prosperity and international standing.
My moral wiring, in particular my strong dislike of bullies in all their forms, status and places, could not be denied if I wished to remain true to myself.
Thus, whether I fully knew it at the time, once I knew about this abuse and stood against it, my fate was sealed. Once the whistle was blown by me, it was game on and no turning back.
The political ground in which this high-stakes drama has played out was never even.
For a start, there has been no Upper House in Queensland. Since 23 March 1922, when it was proclaimed “abolished”.
Ironically, as important historical political dates go, the same date 78 years later was when the Heiner Inquiry evidence went secretly and illegally through a government shredder.
Since 1922, elected governments in Queensland (i.e. “the Executive Cabinet”) effectively rule the roost unrestrained. This lack of restraint – so the theory proposes – evaporates, if and when the Government ventures into illegality.
This trusted theory’s reliability in a worst-case scenario had to wait until 1990, however, for its major litmus test.
We find at this beginning point in the Heiner affair, that our system of responsible government in unicameral Queensland effectively failed.
Operating under the spanking-new, incorruptible ‘post-Fitzgerald model’ with the CJC acting as the impartial integrity watchdog, the system’s accountability/law-enforcement arms egregiously kowtowed to what the Goss Cabinet desired.
While using its self-proclaimed integrity as camouflage, bluff and bluster, the CJC set about deliberately switching colours into a cover-up mode by means of improperly twisting the law to declare legal that which was always unambiguously illegal!
By this unforgivable betrayal of trust, the CJC knowingly released a fatal virus into the system’s bloodstream.
This virus gradually infected our State’s whole-of-government key institutions.
It also crossed over to the federal sphere by the State/Federal interconnectedness under certain provisions of the Australian Constitution, which is our nation’s supreme law.
This deadly virus was spawned in a laboratory of unethical, cowardly minds.
It came about by high ranking and so-called responsible, trusted public officials.
These officials were acting supinely and corruptly by allowing Cabinet to do what the criminal law had long outlawed.
The vaccine was always available. It was a specific law enacted back in 1899.
Welcome to the highly relevant section 129 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) – destroying evidence.
At the time, it stated:
“Any person who, knowing that any book, document, or other thing of any kind, is or
may be required in evidence in a judicial proceeding, wilfully destroys it or renders it
illegible or undecipherable or incapable of identification, with intent thereby to
prevent it from being used in evidence, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to
imprisonment with hard labour for three years.”
On 5 March 1990 a most significant Cabinet Submission made it expressly clear to all Ministers that lawyers were seeking access to the Heiner Inquiry documents but had not yet commenced court action.
(It was also made clear to private ministerial advisers who also had prior access to Cabinet submissions before)
Unequivocally, the Queensland Government had been placed on notice.
Lawyers had, verbally and in writing, properly advised the Government that court proceedings would ensue if ‘out of court’ access was not granted.
They had also instructed the Queensland Government not to destroy the Heiner Inquiry documents which were the central item of evidence.
In any mature democracy, its citizens are entitled to believe and expect that responsible Cabinet Ministers, operating honestly and diligently at the pinnacle of Executive power, will acquaint themselves with the detail of Cabinet submissions before they make any related consensus decision.
To suggest otherwise, as in this case, makes it open to conclude that the 18 Goss Ministers in attendance at the 5 March 1990 Cabinet meeting were nothing more than mindless automatons.
One could suspect that they were under the hammer of a powerful one, or a few, like a Premier (and perhaps his principal adviser)
Perhaps, they were too afraid or conditioned not to ask obvious questions, but to just nod in agreement when this matter was finally decided by the order to shred the evidence.
This, even after coming to Cabinet on a total of three separate occasions between early February and March 1990.
The result was that a serious prima facie crime of obstructing justice by destroying evidence was committed.
It was an earthquake event. It struck at the very heart of the administration of justice and all notions of good government.
Its disastrous ripple effects have been long lasting, extensive, and still stand unresolved.
The relevant senior bureaucrats who possessed the same state of knowledge as the Cabinet Ministers and helped to facilitate and execute the shredding act are also open to being charged under section 7 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) – principal offenders.
It is also worth remembering that this extraordinary act, which had the potential to create an unprecedented constitutional crisis, occurred within the first 100 days of the new Goss Government coming to power, and, unbelievably, after the ALP had been in the political wilderness for some 32 years.
Adding salt to the wound, it took place in the immediate wake of the 1987-89 Fitzgerald Inquiry, when the CJC was newly established.
It was Queensland’s first taste of its bright new dawn of open and accountable government where due process would be respected, not assaulted by an entire Cabinet.
As the whistle-blower, its taste was acrid and lasting.
For my part, I think this needs to be said. I have been driven by a firm belief that truth matters and must eventually out.
It demanded of me honesty, determination, patience and consistency in all I said and wrote, and to continue on doggedly, while keeping comprehensive records.
The thing is, that, more often than not, the devil is in the detail.
Diligence and best practice recordkeeping always eventually confound those who are loose with the truth.
They forget made up stories or rely on ill-conceived excuses that eventually expose their self-serving double standards.
Indeed, this is the reason why this scandal is an international cause célèbre in the archives/recordkeeping profession.
It validates why best practice public recordkeeping is so vitally important in any properly functioning democracy where the rule of law prevails over arbitrary political desires.
It secures a paper trail for others to access and pursue the truth.
At the conclusion of the Heiner affair, I am quite sure that its purpose will be revealed and understood by everyone.
As matters stand in 2020, its longevity has now drawn and entangled in its web all the highest levels of government across its three arms, including Government House.
If a civilised society, like the Commonwealth of Australia, truly cares about its foundational Judeo-Christian values, it simply cannot turn its back on self-serving lies and abuse of power by those in high public office when trustworthiness is expected of them.
One of the greatest values which we expect law enforcement authorities to faithfully comply with, is that no one is above the law.
in my opening statement, on 16 March 2004 to the Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, who was the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I said:
“…Put bluntly, the resignation or jailing of a minister, and perhaps even the jailing of
an entire cabinet and the senior public officials involved in a serious cover-up,
although painful to see, will better secure our democratic future and stability in the
long run than turning a blind eye to high-level corruption in the short run. It sends
the message to all that no-one is above the law.”
In Part III of this series, Iwill discuss the significance of section 129 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).
It is a reprehensible story of abuse of power.
The flawed interpretation of section 129 used by the CJC in its 23 January 1993 report and by others to find no wrongdoing in respect of the shredding was so absurd that it rebounded and became a hangman’s noose around the system’s neck.
For the last 3 decades, those involved have never been able to credibly extricate themselves, save by digging deeper and deeper holes and by defending the indefensible.
And, all the while, an entire Cabinet and a number of public officials who broke the law were let off by their mates, while a poor lowly citizen was not.
This noose is tightening, tightening….
Kevin Lindeberg – Whistleblower
9 May 2020