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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Senate Committee on National integrity Commission, Government senators not interested in this or political donation reform

 It's not simply that when Quentin Dempster speaks, things happen.

After all The Greens have been on about the need for a Federal anti-corruption commission for years, so too a whole raft of organisations and individuals who don't buy the idea that the government and all its constituent parts and players are unique in the long history of humankind.

So while the commission or some other much needed response that tightens things up at the federal level may still be far off in the distance, yesterday some stirring.

On the motion of Senators Wang and Madison the Senate took two minutes to vote to establish "the Select Committee relating to the establishment of a National Integrity Commission" to report to the Senate by September 2016 with these terms of reference. 

Labor, The Greens and cross bench senators voted for. 

None spoke, if you discount a minor intervention by Greens Senator Siewert. 

But the vote is a welcome confirmation of Labor's current interest, having passed up on the opportunity to act when they were in office and darting and weaving on the subject since.

Government party senators voted against. One, Senator Scott Ryan, Minister for Vocational Skills and Training had one minute for the stock standard government line:
The government has a zero tolerance approach to corruption and is committed to stamping out corruption in all its forms. We have a multifaceted approach to combating corruption. We are always looking at how we can strengthen that, rather than throwing the whole system out based on the presumption that a national anticorruption commission will be more effective. The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity is responsible for preventing, detecting and investigating serious issues of corruption in federal law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Ombudsman performs an important function in investigating and auditing various agencies and functions. The Australian Federal Police also play a fundamental role in investigating serious corruption issues. The government will continue to take a strong approach to tackling corruption in all forms.
DIVISION:AYES 37 (10 majority) NOES 27 PAIRS 6
Brown, CLBullock, JW
Cameron, DNCarr, KJ
Conroy, SMDastyari, S
Day, RJDi Natale, R
Gallacher, AMGallagher, KR
Hanson-Young, SCKetter, CR
Lambie, JLazarus, GP
Leyonhjelm, DELines, S
Ludlam, SLudwig, JW
Madigan, JJMarshall, GM
McAllister, JMcEwen, A (teller)
McKim, NJMcLucas, J
Moore, CMMuir, R
O'Neill, DMRhiannon, L
Rice, JSiewert, R
Simms, RASingh, LM
Sterle, GWang, Z
Waters, LJWhish-Wilson, PS
Xenophon, N
Abetz, EBack, CJ
Bernardi, CBushby, DC (teller)
Canavan, MJCormann, M
Edwards, SFawcett, DJ
Fierravanti-Wells, CFifield, MP
Heffernan, WJohnston, D
Lindgren, JMMacdonald, ID
McGrath, JMcKenzie, B
Nash, FO'Sullivan, B
Parry, SPayne, MA
Reynolds, LRonaldson, M
Ruston, ARyan, SM
Seselja, ZSmith, D
Williams, JR
Bilyk, CLScullion, NG
Collins, JMABirmingham, SJ
Peris, NBrandis, GH
Polley, HCash, MC
Urquhart, AESinodinos, A
Wong, PColbeck,

 Earlier in the day more voices were heard in debate on a Greens urgency motion:
"The need for immediate action on political donations reform, to address the corrupting influence of political donations, including from property developers and fossil fuel companies."
Debate here and there strayed into broader anti-corruption issues and took an hour.

The motion passed without a vote so Senator Seiwert may get a spot higher on the agenda sometime for the substantive issue.

No surprise that Greens senators and crossbenchers Leyonhjelm, Madigan and Lambie are up for action on this front. Senator Rhiannon outlined how the system is broke but Government senators clearly think things are pretty rosy. 

Labor is committed to significant change but some of its speakers seemed glad to change the subject.

Senator Lambie told the Senate of a close encounter with the PM, looking deeply in his eyes, listening to his low deep voice saying.... 

'there's no corruption in federal politics.'
"I recently met the Prime Minister and when I raised the issue of establishing a federal commission against corruption, a federal ICAC, he dismissed the idea by trying to tell me that a federal ICAC was not warranted because there were not many opportunities in federal politics, compared with state politics, for corruption to occur. I almost believed that nice story from our PM—and I mean who wouldn't? As I looked deeply in the PM's eyes, he said with that low deep voice with that nice smile repeat after me : 'There's no corruption in federal politics—only in state politics. There's no corruption in federal politics—only in state politics. I was left with that fuzzywuzzy feeling of hope for a few days after my meeting with the PM that 'there's no corruption in federal politics— only in state politics.'
And then—what do you know?—Veterans Affairs Minister Stuart Roberts was forced to resign; we found out about the rich Chinese businessman having drinks with Liberal Party members and the $10,000 watches that were given out as gifts.
The same sort of thing happened after I wrote to former Liberal PM Abbott asking him effectively whether any people associated with the Liberal Party and mentioned in the Heydon Royal Commission secret reports were corrupt. And PM Tony Abbott wrote back to me, essentially saying that no-one in the Liberal Party was corrupt; and then seven days later we found out the Liberal Party President in Victoria had defrauded their members to the tune of about $1.5 million.
Last year's Roy Morgan Survey of Professions saw 13% rate Federal politicians highly on ethics and honesty.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If every state in Australia has one what's holding back the establishment of a Federal anti-corruption commission?

Quentin Dempster in The Saturday Paper 
The case for a federal ICAC is compelling. With highly skilled forensic accountants, metadata analysts and IT specialists; phone tap, covert surveillance and search warrant powers to gather evidence; and the power to compel attendance at preliminary in-camera interrogation, a federal commission against corruption could start to correct the myth that there is little or no corruption at the Commonwealth level......
Resistance to a federal corruption commission is expected to be intense from within the political parties and the Murdoch press because, as in NSW, its very existence would confront Australia’s corruptible and influence-peddling political and commercial cultures.
Examples of corruption will be fobbed off as “just a few bad apples”. As in NSW, such an investigative body will be likened to a “star chamber” or a Russian show trial. But the need and the benefits are manifest.....
The NSW ICAC, with a budget of $25 million, assesses an annual state public-sector budget of $70 billion. With the Commonwealth’s annual expenditure now running at $434 billion, the case for an adequately funded countermeasure for a culture vulnerable to corruption would seem to be self-evident. 
Important to you?

Join the like-minded such as Transparency International Australia, Accountability Roundtable and others as discussion gets underway about public integrity, anti-corruption measures  and related topics in the context of development of Australia's Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.

Lots of room for your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and observations.

Become a member of the Australian Open Government Partnership Network, or tell the Prime Minister's department directly what you think.  

What's holding us back from strengthening democracy?

The Human Rights Law Center Report Safeguarding Democracy released yesterday 
"documents how federal and state governments are adopting new laws and practices that undermine critical components of Australia’s democracy like press freedom, the rule of law, protest rights, NGO advocacy and courts and other institutions. It outlines 38 recommendations to stop the erosion and strengthen our democracy."
Is democracy important to you? Are you up for the cause of strengthening and improving democratic practices?
Join the like-minded as discussion gets underway about open, transparent government, public integrity, citizen engagement and related topics in the context of development of Australia's Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.

Lots of room for your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and observations. 

Join the Open Government Partnership Network, or tell the Prime Minister's department directly what you think. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's holding us back from doing something about money, politics and influence?

Important to you?

Join the like-minded as discussion gets underway about public integrity and related topics in the context of development of Australia's Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.

Lots of room for your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and observations. 

Join the Open Government Partnership Network, or tell the Prime Minister's department directly what you think. 

A selection below from media commentary in the last few days prompted by the Stuart Robert scandal - following years of deaf ears to calls for reform.

 Lenore Taylor (Guardian Australia) on Q&A
I think these scandals come and they go, the person resigns if there is enough political pressure but the only thing that will change the system is if we change donation laws and change the relationship between politicians and big money.
Katherine Murphy (Guardian Australia) and Mark Riley (Seven Network) on ABC Insiders (at 37 minutes), in summary:
the conduct of the minister in the Robert case where he seemed to assume he was a tourist while involved in activities to advance the interests of a business friend and political party donor in China, a business in which he held shares, was appalling. It revealed a political culture where people don't know where to draw the line, and pointed up the need for a hard look and a national conversation about corporate interests, money, politicians and power.
Stephen Mayne Crikey: Can Cormann (and Stuart Robert) fix our broken campaign finance system? (Subscription)

Paul Bongiorno in the New Daily
"..the Robert affair points up the shocking inadequacy of Australia’s political donation regime. There is not enough accountability or transparency....Greater donation limitations and transparency are needed urgently to preserve the national interest from greedy vested interests."
Mike Seccombe, The Saturday Paper "Stuart Robert and political donations."
"The evidence of any significant difference between the parties when it comes to ministerial standards is very weak. But there is a difference when it comes to the corrupting influence of political donations, and a very strong correlation between ideology and money. The conservative parties and their big money donors are the major enemies of limits, accountability and transparency...

The conservatives have also pioneered various means of circumventing disclosure, setting up associated entities to collect money, and by moving it between various party divisions to exploit differences in rules between states. That is not to say Labor is squeaky clean, either, but the record clearly shows that when it comes to dubious means of collecting funds, the Coalition tends to be the initiator and Labor the imitator. ....

[as (High Court) Justice Stephen Gageler (in McCloy) noted] that while buying preferential access to government did not necessarily result in corruption, “the line between a payment which increases access to an elected official and a payment which influences the official conduct of an elected official is not always easy to discern”. The implication of his words is obvious: the bigger the donation the bigger the risk of corruption. The elimination of preferential access to government that resulted from the making of political donations was not just “a legitimate legislative objective,” said Gageler. “More than that, the elimination of that form of influence on government is properly characterised as a compelling legislative objective.”

In other words, let’s set limits on donations, so moneyed interests can no longer buy politicians. Because this is not about Stuart Robert; it is about the whole system."
Editorial The Canberra Times "The public service not ministers, remains Australia's corruption risk."
"Ultimately, the Robert affair distracts attention from a deeper failing in government transparency. Federal parliamentarians' financial interests are generally well known; and, as a result, politicians mostly steer clear of obvious conflicts of interest. Yet, in practice, the vast majority of public spending is co-ordinated and approved by senior bureaucrats, not ministers. Unlike politicians, these officials have no need to make any public disclosures of their private interests. Yes, they are required by law to "take reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest (real or apparent)" – usually to their direct manager. However, the lack of regular or systematic investigation of these hidden disclosures begs the question: just how many scandals go undetected within the government?
While this secrecy remains, Australians will be unable to be entirely confident that their government – the executive and the bureaucracy – is as squeaky clean as it should be."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Challenge for new minister: If open data is changing the world, what's holding things back here?

Following the ministerial reshuffle on Saturday, Angus Taylor is Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Cities and Digital Transition. On digital government, he replaces Communications Minister Mitch Fifield appointed last September. 

Mr Taylor's Twitter account states
"Rhodes scholar. Business consulting and agriculture background and Port Jackson Partners. Passionate about good government"

So roll out the red carpet as discussion gets underway about access to information, public data, public integrity, use of technology, better services and public resources, in the context of developing Australia's Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.

Lots of room for your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and observations. Join the Open Government Partnership Network, or tell the Prime Minister's department directly what you think.

On access to government data, below two reports about opportunities for giant steps forward and another close to home about how the Federal government's "capacity to fully derive value from public sector data is constrained by competing priorities and the lack of an overarching strategy" and a plan what to do about it.

The GovLab (@thegovlab), in collaboration with Omidyar Network (@OmidyarNetwork) has published detailed open data case studies that seek to provide understanding of the various processes and factors underlying the demand, supply, release, use and impact of open data. Conclusions:
  • Open data is improving government, primarily by helping tackle corruption, increasing transparency, and enhancing public services and resource allocation.
  • Open data is also empowering citizens to take control of their lives and demand change; this dimension of impact is primarily mediated by more informed decision making and new forms of social mobilization, both in turn facilitated by new ways of communicating and accessing information.
  • Open data is also creating new opportunities for citizens and organizations, by fostering innovation and promoting economic growth and job creation.
  • Open data is playing an increasingly important role in solving big public problems, primarily by allowing citizens and policymakers access to new forms of data-driven assessment of the problems at hand. It also enables data-driven engagement producing more targeted interventions and enhanced collaboration.
The Bureau of Communications Research report Open Government data and why it matters now on the impact of open government data tends to focus on economic impacts with not much attention to other positives that feature prominently in the GovLab report.

The Bureau reveals open government data has potential to generate up to $25 billion per year.or 1.5 per cent of Australia's GDP. Conclusion:
"Open government data invariably has a net economic benefit
While there is little consensus on the magnitude of the economic benefits of open government data sets, it is apparent that they provide substantial current and potential net benefits to the economy and society.
In Australia, the estimated economic value of open government data sets range from a lower boundary of $500 million to an upper boundary of $25 billion—per year. Globally, the potential value of open data (both public and private) could be up to $4 trillion per year. Significant benefits associated with open government data include improved government services, more efficient operations and business practices, better information exchange, and more engaged citizens, as shown by the sample projects and initiatives discussed in this report.

The maximum public benefit will accrue from free provision of raw government data, or at the most pricing data at the incremental cost of provision
Given that the government collects a significant amount of raw data in the course of its usual operations—for example the provision of broadband and public transport services —much of the fixed cost associated with data collection is already incurred. Net public benefits of open government data are likely to be maximised by pricing at zero or, at the most, the incremental cost of provision (short-run marginal cost), reflecting its public good characteristics of being non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

Value-adding in open government data is generally better left to the private sector   
The rationale for the Australian Government’s provision of open data is strongest for raw data. Raw government data is likely to exhibit the strongest public good characteristics, and hence the broadest benefits from its release. In general, net public benefits will be greater if significant value adding (beyond provision in machine-readable form) is left to the market, as the market sector will generally have more informed insights in identifying what value-add is of benefit to the users. The private sector, especially in developed industries such as ICT, generally have a more established capability and capacity in transforming raw data into products and services that could be introduced in the market. 

Certain government data sets that are likely to have more significant economic impacts
Some of the potential high-value data sets held by governments that have been identified to date are spatial data, health data, transport data, mining data, environmental data, demographic and social data, and real-time as well as past emergency (e.g. bushfire) data."

Then there's the report on Public Sector Data Management published by the Department of Prime Minister in December 2015. Conclusions:

"Data is under-utilised in the APS. 

Currently, the Commonwealth’s capacity to fully derive value from public sector data is constrained by competing priorities and the lack of an overarching strategy:
  • There is no clear mandate for the Commonwealth to use and release public sector data.
  • There are barriers (perceived and real) to sharing data within the Commonwealth and with jurisdictions to improve policy and service delivery.
  • The APS lacks sufficient incentives, skills and organisational arrangements to capitalise on its data.
  • The Commonwealth does not have a strong culture of publishing data to foster economic opportunities."
The recommendations in the report set out an 18 month timetable of actions to change the way government does business by setting up the right frameworks, systems and capability to use, share and value data.


Hmm, won't go into how opening government data and turning the culture around
gels with closing down the government watchdog charged with promoting that culture change and the oversight of our legislated right to access government information-  legislation oversighted by the Office of Australian Information Commissioner that includes an agency obligation to publish certain information....

And how we address two policy directions pulling against each other in the OGP National Action Plan

A challenge I expect even for a Rhodes scholar with McKinsey and Port Jackson experience. 

So far as I'm aware the words "Open Government Partnership" are yet to pass this Attorney General's lips.

Friday, February 12, 2016

No sign of the siege lifting

Attorney General Brandis told Senate Estimates this week that the government position on the future of the Office of Australian Information Commissioner has not changed. As Senator Brandis recounted the government announced in May 2014 that the office would be abolished; it has been made clear the Senate would not pass the bill to achieve this outcome; the governmernt has not brought the bill  (on the Senate Bills list since October 2014) on for a vote; the FOI functions of the office were allocated $1.7 million this financial year. As to where to from here:
"The circumstances are that the government has an intention, which it has declared, for reasons which it has explained, but that intention cannot be given effect to. So the arrangements continue as they are for the time being."
 The transcript for the hearing is at pages 44-49 in the Hansard.

When Senator Collins asked how this squared with the decision to join the Open Government Partnership and an accompanying announcement that the 'government is committed to openness as a basic principle of modern government,' Acting Australian Information Commissioner Pilgrim responded
My understanding is that the bill is still before the Senate or on the list and that is the status at the moment.
Senator JACINTA COLLINS: So if the next budget does not include further funding then you will be without funds?
Mr Pilgrim: That would be true. If there is no funding for the FOI function then we would not be able to undertake it.
Senator Brandis told the committee "that as an economy measure the office would be abolished and its functions consolidated."

The Siege of Leningrad lasted two and a half years. How long will this siege last?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

OECD: Political donation rules must be part of overall integrity framework

Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald writes about a new report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Financing Democracy: Funding of political parties and election campaigns and the risk of policy capture, and goes on to highlight weaknesses in Federal Government rules,
... our electoral commission..reported on political donations only last week. The donations it informed us of had been made up to 19 months earlier. Even so, the figures may not be complete. There is little penalty for late disclosure.
Parties are not required to disclose donations under $12,800, and buying a seat at a dinner table with a minister is not classed as a donation.
The OECD report says public reporting of donations should be timely, reliable, accessible and digitally searchable. Why? To make it easier for civil society groups and the media to be effective watchdogs.
Perhaps that's why we don't do it."
Main Findings of the report:

  • Finance is a necessary component of the democratic processes.
  • Money enables the expression of political support. 
  • It enables competition in elections.
  • However, money may be a means for powerful narrow interests to exercise undue influence e.g. newly elected officials maybe pressured to "return the favour" to corporations.
  • Infrastructure and urban planning are particularly vulnerable to the risk of policy capture.
  • Consequences include inadequate policies that go against the public interest.

Loopholes in existing regulations

  • Current funding rules need attention to ensure a level playing field for all democratic actors.
  • Loans, membership fees and third-party funding can 'go-around' current spending limits.
  • Countries are struggling to define and regulate third-party campaigning (charities, faith groups, individuals or private firms).
  • While many countries have adopted online technologies to support proactive disclosure.
  • There is a need for more efficient and independent oversight and enforcement.

Political finance regulation as part of an overall integrity framework

  • Political finance regulations are ineffective in isolation.
  • They need to be part of an overall integrity framework that includes the management of conflict of interest and lobbying.
  • Fewer than half of OECD countries have set or tightened lobbying standards

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What's holding back political donation law reform and full transparency?

A selection of editorial opinion follows.

Contrast these sentiments with the absence of any sign of interest in reform from the Federal Government and the observation by Gary Gray, Shadow Special Minister of State on Sunday in conversation with Jonathon Green on Radio National that Australia has the best system of disclosures in the world. 

Yes, truly.

Crikey Editorial 1 February
Every year we go through the same shabby ritual: up to 19 months after some of them have been made, we finally learn who is trying to curry favour with our political parties with donations.

Or rather, we learn about some of the donors. Courtesy of donation disclosure laws that are a relic of the Howard era, parties and donors are not required to disclose donations of under $13,000 (although to its credit the ALP has consistently reported all donations over $1000, as the Greens now do as well). Moreover, there are huge loopholes in the definition of donations. For example, “purchasing” a good or service from a political party, such as a seat at a dinner table with a minister, is not considered a donation.

The entire reporting system is woefully out of date. We should have online, near-real time reporting of donations by federal, state and territory branches of political parties. Instead, we are required to wait until February 2016 to find out who was donating to politicians as long ago as July 2014.

Most of all, there is little penalty for late disclosure. Political parties routinely get away with declaring hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations years later, long after anyone has stopped scrutinising them. Bill Shorten's convenient failure to declare an in-kind donation from a company to his 2007 election campaign is just the tip of the iceberg.

Every year, Crikey makes the same editorial call: our analog-era joke of a disclosure regime needs to be overhauled. But there is little political will within the major parties for greater transparency. The last politician to seriously attempt reform was John Faulkner under Kevin Rudd. To its shame, the Coalition thwarted his efforts. Since then, both sides have treated voters with contempt.

SMH Editorial 2 February
As the Herald has argued many times, Australia needs to stop the gaming of Upper House election preferences, apply stricter limits to political funding and demand full transparency, including continuous real-time disclosure of donations...
...the source of most Liberal funding from big business and wealthy donors remains secret due to outdated rules and the $13,000 federal disclosure threshold. Labor donations as small as $1000 are mostly disclosed but remain entwined in union coffers....
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison labelled as "very shabby" the donations from Palmer interests. The Liberal heavyweight  warned voters that if something in politics looked too good to be true it probably was. But Labor and the Coalition have repeatedly derailed attempts to fix the system.
To his credit, NSW Premier Mike Baird has toughened the state electoral funding laws and is rightly pushing for reforms across other state and the federal jurisdiction. The Herald has argued for lower limits on political donations from individuals and organisations; the continuous real-time reporting at which Mr Baird has baulked, limiting it instead to six months before an election; a ban on associated entities; and clear definitions about where the money comes from and goes. Extra options include a ban on political donations from foreign sources, spending caps for parties and third-party supporters, and more public funding to reduce reliance on donors.
Voters should demand change from the major parties and support reformers who reject the current sordid arrangements. The likes of senators John Madigan, Nick Xenophon and the Greens have proposed new rules for donations and Upper House elections. Some in Labor, including former minister of state John Faulkner, proposed changes to donations rules only to have them kyboshed.

Those who argue, in the face of all evidence, that Australia's political donations disclosure laws are robust are fooling themselves and voters. That goes for every level of government – federal, state and local council – and every political party and opportunist that feeds off this woeful regime.
The arrangements for disclosing political donations are disjointed, varying from one jurisdiction to another. The delays in publishing donation details are so lengthy that the whole process becomes almost pointless. And the threshold for disclosing donations ($12,800 in 2014-15) is too high, leaving the system vulnerable to exploitation.
Why does this matter? Because the transparent and timely disclosure of political donations helps to inform voters about the sources of potential influence on a government. It is intended to allay the risk of undue, secret or corrupting influences by exposing who is behind campaigns. It helps to preserve and protect the integrity of the electoral process, and is a form of insurance on government decisions.....
The Age has said for decades that the existing system is flawed. So, too, have commissions of inquiry, joint parliamentary committees at both federal and state levels. At the federal level, the Coalition has repeatedly opposed or sought to weaken proposed disclosure reforms. In Victoria, there has been no sign the Andrews government plans any change.
All parties are dragging their feet on reform, leaving voters with a lame system that is open to rorting. What is needed is a first-class, uniform and transparent electoral disclosure regime, one that includes online access to donations in local council elections and which has rigorous requirements to ensure full disclosures by the umbrella foundations and other cloaked organisations favoured by the major political parties.
Importantly, publication must be timely. The current laws do not require donors to submit returns until 20 weeks after the close of the financial year. There is no sensible reason for this lax deadline. The 2014-15 returns for political parties were published yesterday, meaning some of the information was more than 18 months old. The technology exists for real-time (or near-enough) lodgement and disclosure. The law must be changed to speed this up.
It is time to stop ducking and weaving on this important integrity issue. Politicians and parties that refuse to support reforms towards transparency, efficient and timely disclosure must be condemned.

Crikey Editorial 2 February:
The Coalition’s long war on transparency continues in the government’s childish games with an allegedly sensitive confidential volume of the trade union royal commission report.

The government has had three separate positions on the volume: first it was to remain confidential on the basis that royal commissioner (and would-be Liberal Party speech maker) Dyson Heydon claimed (without providing any evidence) that releasing it might place royal commission witnesses in danger. When crossbench senators whose votes are necessary for the government to pass its anti-CFMEU bill re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission demanded access, the government changed its mind and offered access to a redacted version of the report. Yesterday it changed its position again and offered access to a single representative of the Greens and Labor as well -- an offer that has correctly been declined on the basis of arrant silliness.

Since its election in 2013, the Coalition has consistently tried to curb transparency. Entire areas of government operations have been ruled beyond the scope of parliamentary scrutiny. Ministers have misled Parliament with impunity. The public service has been encouraged to treat freedom of information laws with contempt. Whistleblowers have been pursued and journalists threatened with jail.

It was to be hoped that Malcolm Turnbull, a man who made his legal reputation on one of the signal moments of transparency in Australian law, the Spycatcher case, would bring a change from the Abbott government’s deep-seated loathing of transparency. So far, the signs are that we’re in for more of the same.