"Once the champion of democratic reform, Brumby's Labor is now a liability. The John Brumby democracy project is running out of puff. Once proud champions of democratic reform, the Premier and his party are now impediments to a better Victorian polity. Brumby and Victorian Labor have a distinguished record on improving the quality of our democracy and enhancing the openness and accountability of public office - which makes it all the sadder that recent events suggest this Premier and this government have little more to offer in this sphere."
"Legislation intended to open up government in Australia to greater public scrutiny, while laudable, will not make headway unless ministers, heads of departments and senior public service managers lead by example. On most of the evidence, this is not happening. Indeed, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week cited cabinet privilege for his refusal to disclose letters from Environment Minister Peter Garrett regarding compliance issues with the failed home insulation program, and all governments before this one have successfully quarantined documents from disclosure under freedom of information laws, often for no other reason than a desire not to be embarrassed. Likewise, a culture of secrecy (and hostility to whistleblowers) within the senior levels of the public service is well entrenched. The whistleblower legislation will succeed in removing a chip or two from the Chinese walls erected by government and bureaucracy, but only concerted action from the top will bring them down."
"In the US, it is now accepted that much of the dirty work that the CIA carried out was authorised and often ordered by the White House, from president Dwight Eisenhower onwards. We have never had any clear understanding here of what ministers have sought from the secret services and what have been independent enterprises. Nor do we have a clear account of how Australian and foreign intelligence agencies affected the political and diplomatic relations of Australia with key nations such as the US, Indonesia, China and Japan."
"..what is needed is a new spirit of openness and transparency in the mining approvals process. The government is merely the custodian of natural resources, which it only owns on behalf of us all. Community consultation should be a key component of government decision-making right from the start, before a licence is granted. For too long the balance of power has been stacked in favour of mining companies and against local communities. A website giving transparent, up-to-date information about all upcoming licence tenders and mine proposals should be established as a first step."