Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's relaxed attitude to US National Security Agency spying on national leaders inadvertently summarises the cloying apathy demonstrated by the major parties to rolling revelations of indiscriminate surveillance by foreign intelligence agencies operating at the margins of the law.
In offhand comments at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC, Ms Gillard joked that "If my phone was intercepted while I was PM, all they would have heard was praise for Obama," encapsulating official indifference to surveillance and the outsourcing of Australian foreign policy in one elegant remark.
"Edward Snowden's revelations have unleashed political earthquakes around the world, including French and German leaders responding with outrage on confirmation that their close ally the United States had hacked their personal phones," Australian Greens Communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said.
"European and South American leaders who find themselves the target of NSA surveillance in the name of ‘national security' no doubt find it offensive to be determined a security risk by a close ally. The reality is much more prosaic, as the NSA and kindred intelligence agencies around the world have been engaged in industrial and commercial espionage for decades. Detailed revelations about the pervasive scope of the spying has at last provoked furious debate around the world - not least that much of it has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘national security.'"
"Contrast this with the cheerful oblivion passing as policy here in Australia, where Labor and Liberal have united in bipartisan silence in an attempt to normalise the surveillance overkill revealed by whistleblowers and journalists.
"We are yet to hear a single word of concern from Australia's Prime Minister or Attorney General, and I don't expect that we will. With Australian intelligence agencies deeply embedded in the NSA's creeping global panopticon, it will be up to the Australian Greens and allies working with civil society in Australia and around the world to roll back the surveillance state.
"To that end, I'm looking forward to going after the new Government when Parliament resumes on November 12, with a particular eye to Attorney General George Brandis' first appearance at budget #estimates on the week of November 18," Senator Ludlam concluded.