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Australian Government keeping secret database of people
who criticise policies
THE Northern Territory Government is keeping a secret database of people who criticise the Government or its policies, it was learned last night.
The files viewed by the Northern Territory News contained hundreds of names, party affiliations, their jobs or roles and a record of their comments to talkback radio.
Opposition Leader Denis Burke yesterday accused the Martin Government in Parliament of acting like 'Big Brother'.
"It's one thing keeping files on politicians but it's another keeping files on ordinary people," Mr Burke said.
"It's like 'Big Brother'. What about privacy?
We certainly never had anything like this when we were in government."
But Chief Minister Clare Martin said the information-tracking system was the same as that used by governments - including the previous CLP government - and private companies all over Australia.
"It is simply an electronic record of publicly-made comments, which have been made in newspapers, radio, TV and the like, on matters being discussed in the community," Ms Martin said.
"This same system was used by the CLP government and is a common practice throughout Australia - both in government and the private sector."
Among those listed on the database were Katherine Mayor Anne Shepherd, who has been critical of the Government's policies in the past, NT Cattlemen's Association head John Armstrong - who was listed as being affiliated with the Liberal Party - and Iain Smith, chief executive of the NT Seafood Council.
All were listed as being "critical of the NT Government" or the public service.
Other entries were described as "personal attack" or "third party negative comment".
Ordinary people who called talkback radio to
complain, or commend, the NT Government were also included in the file.