Media revelations that resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson has called on the spies to monitor environmental campaigners and urged stiffer penalties for protests should come as no surprise to anyone who has worked on those campaigns and protests in the hope of a safer climate.
What may surprise the federal Batman MP's constituents, however, is the range of peaceful democratic action Ferguson considers a threat.
The minister's rhetoric is full of dire talk about "energy security", disruption to "critical infrastructure" and the prevention and deterrence of "unlawful activity", but the overwhelming majority of the many protests Ferguson attracts are entirely lawful, peaceful, and - inconveniently for him - devastatingly coherent in their critique of his passion for uranium and emissions-intensive fossil fuels.
Ferguson may like to paint activists as potential terrorists, but where is his evidence to support that smear? How many acts of actual criminal sabotage by environment campaigners have really taken place, and how many has his wasteful, anti-democratic enthusiasm for spying prevented? Isn't it really more about winning the public relations war on behalf of the minerals and resources lobby?
The extent of his distaste for the protests of civil society may not be fully known by his local constituents, but they are increasingly connecting Ferguson with his federal role undermining our climate security and preserving business-as-usual exploitation of fossil and uranium "resources" that need to be left - safely sequestered - in the ground.
These connections are as often forged by small-scale protests in his electorate as they are by large-scale protests at coal-fired power stations such as Hazelwood. And, judging by his past performances, they're the ones that really spoil the minister's day.
"... I believe that the right to peacefully demonstrate is an essential part of freedom of speech in a democratic society..."
That's Ferguson in a 9 September 2009 letter-box message to Preston constituents after protesters at his opening of an environmental refurbishment of a local park pointed to the stark contrast between worthy local green initiatives and Ferguson's climate-heating exploits.
The letter-box effort followed a string of letters to local newspapers from climate campaigners pointing to this inconvenient truth. This was also the letter in which Ferguson falsely accused me of being a "Greens activist".
Sounding a more ominous note, however, was his meeting with myself and other climate campaigners in his electorate office on 9 April 2010. The result of a rare, last-minute invitation, that meeting has been recounted in Crikey and in more detail on this blog, but it was an unguarded comment by Ferguson that pointed to the kinds of activities that have landed him in hot water in today's media coverage.
It wasn't his rather grumpy remark to me that "I've read your blog. You're not worth talking to", after I began on what he deemed a "cross-examination" on the energy and climate issues we had come to discuss. Instead, it was his response to my happy claim of a substantial readership.
"We know how many hits your blog gets," Ferguson replied.
It was this statement that hinted at the pervasive monitoring that has now been revealed in today's important public interest reports by Philip Dorling in The Age.
While most activists would be used to seeing a range of government departments, including police, in the reports of server traffic to their websites, they and the public are not nearly as aware as they should be of the extent of what can only be called spying, and of the sinister mismatch between this expensive and fruitless activity and the democratic rights of citizens to protest and seek change in the public interest.
Contrast with this the modest capacity of civil society campaigners, groups and watchdogs to track and shine light on the closed-door fossil fuel and uranium lobbying that wears out the carpets in ministerial offices.
The threat of such hidden, unaccountable activity is real and it's global. That's why protesters rightly dog Ferguson - they want you and your children to be safe.
I hope this message gets through to the minister. One thing is certain - it's sure to be monitored.
Amendment: The date of my meeting with Martin Ferguson at his electorate office has been corrected from the original version. The meeting took place on Friday 9 April 2010.