Private eyes are watching us activists

A worrying development in Australia (courtesy of the… Greens):

Minister Joe Ludwig, representing the Attorney General in the Senate, confirmed in Question Time today that the Australia Federal Police monitors coal seam gas protesters and that the government outsources some intelligence gathering to private consultants.

“Farmers in Queensland trying to protect their land from coal seam gas mining, and parents concerned about their children’s health, will be understandably outraged that they may be under surveillance by the Australian Federal Police,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“What an extraordinary use of taxpayers’ money to spy on legitimate protesters in order to protect the commercial interests of polluting companies.

“State Premiers need to indicate whether their police agencies are working hand in glove with the AFP and energy companies to maximise penalties for protesters and increase surveillance on citizens trying to defend their properties against coal seam gas developers.

“Is it true that energy companies and the police are working together to maximise charges for protesters? Are Anna Bligh, Barry O’Farrell, Ted Bailleu and Martin Ferguson working together to maximise surveillance?

“Minister Ludwig confirmed today, in response to my question, that some surveillance of protesters is being outsourced to a private agency – the National Open Source Intelligence Centre.

“I encourage people, as Minister Ludwig did, to put in FOI requests to the AFP and state agencies for any surveillance files being kept on them.”