Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO files
NewSouth Publishing, $32.99 pb, 464 pp
The German film The Lives of Others (2006) ends with a coda, set after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in which protagonist Georg Dreyman is finally allowed access to the volumes of secret files collected on him by the Stasi. Apart from the sheer number, what strikes Georg most is the utter banality of the information contained within. It is a familiar reaction among the contributors to Dirty Secrets, a collection of essays from prominent Australians on the receipt of their ASIO files.
Meredith Burgmann, who has edited these essays, is refreshingly honest as to her aims. ‘I wanted to look at the effect of spying on those who have been its targets,’ she says in her introduction. Delightedly she adds, ‘We are finally writing about them instead of them writing about us.’ The lingering outrage underpinning the book rarely subsides.