What They Saw begins with the acclamation that ordinary people can make a difference; that is, ordinary people with a testimony and enough chutzpah to share it. Being sworn to secrecy, that’s just what author Monica Bennett-Ryan and her co-workers had to demonstrate to confront Australia’s all-powerful Defence machine, deliberately engaged in a scam so pervasive it was seriously undermining national security, putting Australia at risk.
More than 20,000 security vettings were compromised—that is, clearances for individuals who worked in the Prime Minister’s office, people who worked with the Minister for Defence, people who guarded military bases. This was a national security nightmare wilfully administered by Defence! What shocked these whistle-blowers was that Defence didn’t care about the law or national security, they had other interests.
It was Lateline who first broke the story May 2011. According to the whistle-blowers:
“The harsh reality was, we were all being deliberately trained to falsify information and lie to ASIO in order to speed the processing of applications for the sake of money. We just didn’t know it.”
Money and collaboration. What They Saw is about this familiar age-old problem detailing a mammoth Defence strategy, in collaboration with the recruitment agency, to train Temp staff in procedural deception for money! While this was executed with military precision, most Australians may not recognise the Military as being quite distinct from the Defence machine. This eyewitness account is an educator and eye-opener on many levels.
It’s also a true Australian story of Biblical proportions, where truth and deception, the small and the great, collide. It’s a story detailing the power plays, the challenges of navigating a culture of bullying and intimidation, and the friendships that were forged in this workplace milieu by real people. The author writes from a personal faith perspective. This is a faith which unapologetically allows for a greater power to be in play, orchestrating her own placement within this deliberate deception for a greater purpose.
The circumstances were indeed ‘cloak and dagger’ surreal, and the reader will experience the various phases of the author’s journey from the daily suspicion, disbelief and ultimate revelation, to the courageous action taken at great personal risk in this astounding asymmetric battle. It was a costly test for those employed by Defence Intelligence & Security Authority (DSA), a government department which is now called the Australian Government Security Vetting Authority (AGSVA). Yet, through sheer courage and perseverance, this was a test which has been transformed into an inspiring testimony.
Whistle-blowers and people of faith be encouraged! I commend What They Saw to you as a special gift to the nation, well worth sharing.