You may not have heard of Fiona Wilson, but she used to be an executive in the company Origin Energy1, one of the big players in coal-seam gas in eastern Australia. Wilson worked on a wellsite integrity audit in 2014, and this audit identified major gas leaks. She was asked to remove statements noting integrity and non-compliance issues from her report. She also saw evidence of unregistered pipelines, lapsed tenures negating compensation liability and government reporting requirements, and unlicensed water extraction, among other issues. After raising these issues, she was made redundant by Origin Energy2.
E-mails and documents relating to her work and subsequent redundancy began disappearing from her work computer. However, she had backed up her files and had retained copies. All up, a thousand e-mails had been deleted and Origin later hacked into her personal devices to delete copies of the same e-mails and documents. Despite this she still retained copies of them. On top of this, when she applied to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission for a review of her employment termination, it was apparent that some 170 pages of evidence had been removed from her employment file2.
Wilson sent three e-mails, over three months, to Grace Grace the Queensland Employment Minister, to ask for a meeting so she could provide evidence about the fiddling with evidence from Origin Energy. She received no reply to her e-mails. Finally, in frustration, she turned to Facebook.
Wilson’s post on Facebook was addressed to Grace Grace, and said “I had made 3 requests to your office since 29 Jun 17 in order to provide you with clear documentation of the evidence tampering as part of your investigation. These requests have all been ignored and you have further issued a written statement on 12 Sep 17 advising ‘there is no evidence documents have been removed from your file or tampered with’. An extract has been included for your ease of reference. Further attached is clear examples of the evidence tampering…..” Below this, Wilson included several photographs of original evidence accompanied by photographs of the same pages, on which evidence had been modified3.
The mistake Wilson made was to have posted that given above, immediately on top of several photographs of her doing some target shooting with a .22 rifle from several years beforehand in Thailand and on the anniversary of that back in Brisbane. She accompanied those photographs with the comment “getting sharper on the .22”, in reference to her improved marksmanship3.
This association of posts, caused, or provided the opportunity for, Grace, or possibly someone in her office, to refer Wilson to the Queensland Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (QFTAC). This is a joint mental health/police agency. It is staffed by police from the Security Operations Unit (SOU) and clinicians from the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service. The SOU is a protective intelligence service for public office holders. They state their fundamental aim is to facilitate care for individuals with a serious mental illness to minimise the harm they potentially pose. They can receive referrals from the police (especially Dignitary Protection), the Australian Federal Police, other law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, some embassies, mental health services and disturbingly, Ministerial and Electoral offices (i.e. politicians or their staffers).
Wilson was taken away by QFTAC police, not charged with anything, but was detained and involuntarily injected with an antipsychotic drug, aripiprazole (brand name: Abilify Maintena), which is commonly used in the treatment of schizophrenia. The side effects of the drug are numerous and the more serious include: fainting; trouble swallowing; leg restlessness; seizures; fever; persistent sore throat; increased blood-sugar levels5. QFTAC claimed Wilson was delusional, but in the opinion of an independent clinical consulting psychologist she is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the ordeal of her whistleblowing, and is not delusional. Wilson had merely been trying to contact the relevant Minister about evidence of alleged wrongdoing, but instead of acting on the evidence, the minister or her office referred her to QFTAC6.
There is a current climate of corruption in politics, with politicians being beholden to their party’s donors to the exclusion of most other considerations. While it may not be true in this case; hypothetically, if someone was a donor to a political party, they could perhaps put pressure on a politician or party to silence a whistleblower. The experiences of Commonwealth Bank whistleblower Jeff Morris demonstrates the pressure that can be exerted on someone like that, seemingly as a matter of course. He lost his job, had death threats, his wife had stress-related visits to hospital, and finally, his marriage broke down, and this was all followed by a diagnosis of PTSD7. Imagine how easy it would have been to silence someone like Jeff Morris who, under a great deal of stress, could have been referred to something like the QFTAC and drugged, so he could cause no further problems. It makes you wonder if such a referral of a whistleblower like Fiona Wilson signifies the coming of the thought police to Australia? Are we to experience the corruption of psychology and psychiatry as happened in the Soviet Union, where dissent was diagnosed as a mental illness8. If this happens now with whistleblowers, and we acquiesce, then how long will it be before they come for those of us who dissent from the government line.