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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 18 January 2007
Fairfax journalist Tim Dick resignation in the offing? Grovelling apology by Minister Watkins? Don't hold your breath!
Mood:  smelly
Topic: election nsw 2007

The latest Pat OShane controversial judicial decision has some curious angles that have got the interest of this blogging scribe.

 

No doubt she has made arguable, maybe wrong, decisions in the past and these have been trawled over in the paragon of infotainment if not journalism Sydney Daily Telegraph.

 

But what has got SAM’s attention is a glaring discrepancy in The Australian report of a man Rose who OShane says in  the paper was “racially abused”:

 

 Magistrate faces acquittal probe

"Ms O'Shane said they had racially abused Mr Rose."

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21072026-2702,00.html
 

 

Rose apparently was thus acquitted of a charge relating to spitting at transit officers by OShane.

 

The clear suggestion to this solicitor in NSW is that there was advocacy of racist provocation and abuse of power and if true, not surprisingly, OShane herself Aboriginal threw it out as an abuse of officious power. Most likely the defense lawyer was so instructed by Rose because they can’t just make it up and see if it flies. There has to be a factual basis of some degree otherwise the lawyer could be struck off for breach of ethical standards. This is all well known in the profession.

 

Not that Rose is an angel, reported as swearing like a trooper in one paper, but then offensive language is not the controversial charge in question in the media reports. They are howling because he was let off for spitting, regarded as an assault and very unhealthy.

 

This activist is well aware of other Magistrates taking a similar line when figures of authority overdo it: In the 90’s I was arrested for an anti woodchipping of forest protest at Newcastle. The Boral staffer who apprehended me on the huge chip pile with a tin of symbolic red paint (blood of dead animals) not only roughed me up, but ground my face into the paint along with my business suit. It may have been the Chief Magistrate himself at the Newcastle court who found me technically guilty of trespass, but not criminal damage, and gave me what’s called a ‘section 10’ today, that is no conviction recorded. The smirk of the logger’s helper to his mates in the gallery as I quietly cross examined him on his assault and criminal damage to my suit was all I needed.

 

The Magistrate who is no shrinking violet at all, was as unimpressed with this turkey’s illegal vigilante aggression as he was with the disruption of more serious matters in his court.

 

I never was compensated for my suit. They got $50 I volunteered for the tainted woodchips, sent before the hearing.

 

This writer is also aware of disturbing injustice in a spitting charge we wrote about yesterday:

 

 Wednesday, 17 January 2007What's in a charge of spitting depends on context as per Jabiluka 1998 

 

So Mr Rose got lucky, and was acquitted: The law set him free via Magistrate OShane. But Tim Dick in the Sydney Morning Herald got on the Police Minister John Watkins’ bandwagon in the press this last two days. Never mind the Daily Telegraph with their shocking editorial standards. Watkins says publicly on ABC Radio yesterday and 7pm tv news last night to the effect OShane ‘is prejudiced against anyone in uniform’. That might be grounds for a defamation action against the Minister depending on what the case in question really involved. Ambitious Watkins has referred her to the NSW Judicial Commission but has he jumped the gun for the police’s favourite whipping girl?

 

Being of a certain age with a career spanning at least a decade before the Wood Royal Commission in 1994, with plenty more police corruption according to the Police Commissioner Ryan himself 5 years later, perhaps OShane is wise to keep an open mind, if not prejudice?

 

So the question becomes in the Rose matter, was there racist provocation for the spitting? If so why was it not reported by the Herald ‘journalist’ as at least an element of the case? Well one reason is Tim Dick admits that although he is “Legal Affairs Reporter” he wasn’t in court, only the Daily Telegraph was. But this doesn’t wash because The Australian’s Simon Hayes did include this in his January 17th article, as minimal as it is

 

"Ms O'Shane said they had racially abused Mr Rose." 

Tim Dick has form on sloppy indeed arrogant journalism. This writer met him with an embarrassing government FOI refusal letter in the foyer of the Fairfax offices in the IBM building at Darling Harbour before the 2005 Marrickville byelection. Not only did he not take up the issue – the disgraceful spread of truck congestion through Marrickville in the next few years proven by a document (Commission of Inquiry Report no less) Minister Sartor refused to release under my FOI application – he didn’t even want a copy of the letter: Yesterday the Herald ran a big report from the Federal Government on exactly the same 'truck congestion'. It was as though Dick didn’t want ALP candidate Tebbutt to be damaged by the reality of the suppressed Commission of Inquiry Report into expansion of Port Botany and its implications for a Marrickville Truck Tunnel. Or couldn't see it's importance.

 

Dick’s whole attitude was cavalier at that meeting, dwelling in the corridor chatting while I patiently waited having spent 2 days to get an FoI refusal letter from the Minister’s department after a month long wait, like extracting a molar without anaesthetic. The refusal letter, let alone the actual report.

 

To be fair Dick was not the only one in Sydney with a biased media approach to Tebbutt’s credentials for Marrickville. Antony Green and Julie McCrossin both failed their journalistic duties in my considered view during that time, the first for equally scorning the FoI refusal letter in Petersham Town Hall when I tried to hand it to him, and rejecting it with poisonous vigour, and the second for leaving me on a mobile waiting for 20 minutes on the hustings during talkback to run me out of airtime. The Greens lost the byelection by only a few per cent in this ALP town.

 

Sure enough when I rang and spoke to Tim Dick yesterday he blustered and prevaricated: There’s no difference in the Herald and Australian stories, he misleadingly asserted. You haven’t actually read the Australian story (with the racist provocation element included) he insinuated. What ‘legal advice’, he scornfully interjected before I told him I was a lawyer and my opinion there was the issue of an expensive cross claim against the State Rail for the alleged transit officers ‘racial abuse’ reportedly via The Australian. “You’re an idiot” was Tim’s finest effort.

 

I may be an idiot for expecting much better of Tim Dick too. But what I want to know is will Tim Dick resign if the Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson finds there was racial abuse provocation as a factor in a transcript they have requested? Time will tell.

 

Top journalists are paid more than government ministers at Fairfax as admitted on the Insiders programme last year. Even juniors are on $50K plus I read in their employment feature page on one occasion. Tim Dick presumably is on say $100K or similar, and still with the power to destroy reputations and careers. In such a role he should be attentive to his own professional obligations. Time will tell who resigns.

 

Nor is it only Tim Dick. The environmental reporter James Woodford also has a cloud over his professional reputation. All the green ngo’s in this state, at least with financial independence from this ALP government won’t talk to him. Not The Wilderness Society, not ChipStop group down in Bega, not this writer on behalf of little ecology action Sydney.

 

If you notice his stories, including the good one about insects in the forest canopy over the Christmas New Year break, it’s always sourced to a government employee. Which is where his bread is buttered these days. He’s gone from an activist for South East Forest Alliance using the green movement to dumping on them. It all started when TWS did a protest at PR event at the NSW State Forests office in the northern suburbs. Woodford’s 2nd wife was the PR officer for the state agency and the event was hijacked by greenies in cuddly animal suits. She then moved on to work for the Southern Catchment authority. You can track Woodford’s sources from his wife’s career.

 

But gallant Woodford took revenge on TWS. He wrote a fraud article about “wilderness” as a racist concept, when for a decade of the 1990’s The Wilderness Society stood shoulder to shoulder with traditional owners of Starcke in Cape York, Noel Pearson on the Cape York multi Land Use Agreement,Yvonne Margarula at Jabiluka,  had a great pro land rights policy this writer distributed at a conference to NSW Aboriginal People. Part of the biased approach is to go for small membership groups for quotes and ignore TWS with maybe 10,000 members. The ALP here love doing that too. In short Woodford tried to destroy The Wilderness Society in NSW with a fraud smear. Government sources indeed. No wonder he is blacklisted for abuse of journalistic power.

 

And we have his email correspondence to prove it.

 

But he still has a gig at Fairfax but will Tim Dick resign if the transcript says racist provocation of Mr Rose was a valid factor in OShane’s decision which he failed to report in a paper of record? Will Police Minister John Watkins grovellingly apologise and support a referral of government staff to the Anti Discrimination Board if Pat OShane was right to condemn racist abuse by State Rail transit police? Time will tell.

 

You see OShane by quickly dismissing the matter may have satisfied Rose the defendant, but now with the big controversy stirred up by Watkins, Rose might get it in his head to be grateful to OShane and go for one of those $5K to $10K discrimination payouts we read about in the same Sydney Morning Herald (p3, 28th December 2006 actually).

 

As I was thinking about this piece I realised it’s not just the Federal Government that is in ‘revenge mode’ as their window of power starts to close. The ALP NSW government also seem to be exhibiting the same behaviour of seeking to even old scores against OShane before they lose their clout. Only this might blow up in Watkins face yet.

 

Declaration: Of the seven or so arrests in my peaceful protest career, all declared to the NSW Law Society upon my recommencement as a solicitor, one of those was an acquittal by Magistrate OShane with 7 or so other environmentalists including Councillor Murray Matson of Randwick to protect parkland at the Eastern Distributor Tollway construction site around 1998. The charge was chucked out early on and I never had to appear in court.

.................................

Postscript #1

 

Tim Dick has in many ways redeemed his 'oversight' with a strong article about Magistrate OShane today apparently endorsed and vindicated by the NSW Judicial Commision conduct division " where three judges could have recommended her dismissal" over an earlier controversial matter of strict exercise of contempt of court power to send a disruptive litigant to the cell amongst other things:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/magistrate-cleared-of-bullying/2007/01/17/1168709836843.html

 

But the newspaper itself saves face with a vicious editorial here:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/calendar/oshane-has-them-spitting-chips/2007/01/17/1168709825478.html

 

Now to the News Ltd 'paragons' of journalism on this brutal clinch of power politics in typical Sydney tradition. The clue to that is Watkins boss Premier Iemma and Opposition leader Debnam are both in the news today on different topics, as if to say, all move on, this one with OShane is over ... for now. As said often it's a big cruel game in Sydney, Australia's oldest and biggest city, and likely most corrupt.

 

Postscript #2

 

Similarly The Australian pushes the attack on OShane along a bit:

 

O'Shane may face fight to keep job

18 January 2007 Imre Salusinszky, NSW political reporter

MAGISTRATE Pat O'Shane could become only the second NSW judicial officer in history to be hauled in front of parliament to explain why she should be allowed to keep her job.

but it's running out of steam. As MP Lee Rhiannon states in the story Parliament will be entering the vortex of 'separation of powers' and given the strong Judicial Commission vindication (on one front at least, which the Oz clearly were excluded from seeing unlike Herald above) it does look like election period hot air. Possible but unlikely. Notice the author is Imre Salusinszky reflecting the escalation to a higher level of power plates grinding.

 

Postscript #3

 

The high circulation Sydney Daily Telegraph significantly doesn't carry the story in its paper today 18th January, the story having lost its grunt but their 'breaking news' wire from last night carries this:

 

Review could spell end for magistrate, By Peter Jean, January 17, 2007 12:00

 

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,21075433-5001028,00.html

 

including quote:

 

"Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said the Government's pursuit of Ms O'Shane was a disgrace.

"Election fever has given Minister Watkins a rush of blood to the head, causing him to forget the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers," Ms Rhiannon said.

"Pat O'Shane has had a distinguished record as barrister, department head and now magistrate."


Posted by editor at 3:24 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007 12:32 PM EADT
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
What's in a charge of spitting depends on context as per Jabiluka 1998
Mood:  not sure
Topic: election nsw 2007

Tyron Gibb.

SAM's editor then a legal adviser to environmental activists remembers his name and his face so well. His tears in the dock. His 30 days in Berrima Gaol bail refused, in 1998 as one of the 'peaceful anti Jabiluka uranium mine' protesters.

This story in the news today reminds me:

Alleged railway spitter walks free

about railway coppers gobbed on by 'a Redfern man' which may well be a euphemism for an Aboriginal bloke. Aboriginal Magistrate Pat O'Shane is again being criticised for letting him off.

Tyron was as Anglo as this writer, popular and good with a guitar. Ned Kelly style looks but actually a quiet personality. You can imagine him locked under a mining machine as feral activists will do, trespassing, or obstructing police, but spitting?

Must be a bad one surely. Not so. This is where context comes in. His friend Rusty was locked on under a bulldozer too next to Tyron. The police couldn't cut Rusty's device so they dislocated his shoulder ripping his arm free instead. This went on for minutes of shrill agonised screaming.

(Rusty later sued for criminal injury by the NT police via NT Legal Aid from memory, result unknown, compliant to Ombudsman etc.)

But Tyron was next after Rusty that hot sweaty dusty day in a claustrophic wedge on the ground. He writhed. He shouted. He spat at the police coming for all he knew to torture him next.

None of this came out at the bail hearing in fairly remote Jabiru Local Court as Magistrate Lowndes (if memory serves) saw a scruffy man break down in tears incapable of articulating let alone give me instructions. Poor bastard. I interjected angrily and the Magistrate cut me dead, one more word and I would be out the door or in the cell with him.

I also recall a quick whip around from that so called scruffy bunch producing a $1,000 cash for his bail in case that would please the court. But the cops had to win one out of 106. A million dollars wouldn't have been enough in that politically charged atmosphere.

He spent 30 days in Berrimah Gaol a model inmate until the NT Legal Aid lawyers got jack of this injustice applying to the court with the obvious point that he had served longer in jail without bail than his charges could reasonably deliver in prison sentence if found guilty.

Tyron was my only loss out of many contested bail hearings, out of 106 arrests in that chapter. Jabiluka uranium mine was eventually shut down not least by traditional Aboriginal owner Yvonne Margarula.

It was this same week at Jabiru for Tyron and others' bail applications, I received a precious gift - the fresh morning smile of a 40,000 year culture via traditional owner Yvonne Margarula as she strode proudly to court on her own 'trepass' charge alone to meet her lawyers: She appeared from nowhere, and at first I was flummoxed, even though I had met her once before in Sydney at the Friends of the Earth office with Jacqui Katona right at the start, when Gini Stein (ABC) did a one word interview with her (English being a 3rd language). God gave me some grace as I offered from deep somewhere "good luck Yvonne", just three words across a massive cultural divide, and her response was silent friendly radiance. You can have your Queen of England and your U2 rock idols, that was it for me. I swear it kicked me like a strong black coffee for the next 3 weeks of hard slog.

I understand it was partly my 12 or so page legal report to the Gundjemi Aboriginal Corporation amongst others of the state of play of 400 plus protest cases (several involving illegal police brutality, and one a sexual harrassment situation by an unknown policeman), that encourged the TO's and allied civil society stakeholders to wind down the protest camp and move to a new political phase of their ultimately winning campaign. I still have the huge red yellow and black flag there of one protester (Dave Kennedy, now deceased).

I learnt from that period you could spit on someone out of reasonable fear of torture in Mr Gibb's case, and still go to gaol for 30 days having been convicted of absolutely nothing. It all comes down to context.

I visited him once there in Berrimah Gaol in Darwin a long way from Jabiru about a week in.  After returning to Sydney and Waverley Council duties to a commendation from the Mayor Paul Pearce, I was greatly relieved to be told Legal Aid intervened to get him out. Yvonne Margarula is my hero there at Jabiluka, and so is activist Tyron Gibb. They have a common thread too - survival.

By Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW, NT court approved legal adviser to some 106 Jabiluka protesters July 1998 at Jabiru local court. The holding cell at Jabiru was designed to hold a maximum of 16.

 Postscript #1

 Is Tim Dick a sloppy legal reporter?

Notice the report in The Sydney Morning Herald above, doesn't refer to alleged racial taunts made at the arrested man by the transit police but they do mention this provocation in The Australian newspaper here:

Magistrate faces acquittal probe

"Ms O'Shane said they had racially abused Mr Rose."

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21072026-2702,00.html

If true, the fact that Tim Dick at the Herald left out a critical aspect of the factual matrix of the case being racial discrimination which in fact is a cause of action with the Anti Discrimination Board here in Sydney, reported in the SMH recently for expensive damages orders as here:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/playground-taunts-land-primary-school-with-6000-compensation-bill/2006/12/27/1166895361368.html

is very bad reporting work.

But Tim Dick probably doesn't even read his own newspaper. It ran on page 3 28th December 2006.

Magistrate Oshane probably saved the NSW taxpayer a $10,000 cross action against the State Rail authorities.

Postscript #2

Now it comes out that Tim Dick admits he wasn't in the court at all despite the "legal affairs reporter" byline. I rang Tim Dick to enquire why is their no mention of racist provocation in the Herald story, but there is in The Austrlaian.

Apart from calling me an "idiot" and scorning my legal qualification, I quote Tim Dick in words to the effect of:

"the reason I didn't put in any element about provocation was because I wasn't in the court, the only reporter there was the Daily Telegraph and I'm not going to rely on them"

Fact is the Daily Telegraph doesn't seem to have anything about racist provocation either online in this story of January 16th:

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/opinion/story/0,22049,21062235-5001031,00.html

so no guidance there. Is Tim Dick throwing out a red herring? I will go back to the paper version at the local library for 16th January and see if the SDT refers to racial provocation like sister paper The Australian as a sound basis for the acquittal. It should have been mentioned in a balanced story.

If there was racial provocation that's a big problem for the State Rail Authority too, and contrary to tub thumping by ALP Police Minister Watkins the magistrate may well have saved the public revenue from an expensive legal cross claim. Or not now that he is pursuing her acquittal which may not be very smart.

Time will tell. But my view of Tim Dick as a so called "Legal Affairs Reporter" is reinforced: Not a very good one in my view.

Postscript #3 Seems the elusive "breaking news" original Daily Telegraph report of 16th of January (which I read and then lost on the screen said to be by the only journo in the court) which the above  SDT 16th Jan opinion piece is based on, and Herald too via Tim Dick, doesn't have anything about racial provocation one way or the other and is irrelevant to why Tim Dick left the element out of his report.

Looks like the Australian reporter Simon Hayes did some leg work to get a response from Magistrate O'Shane as is quite proper before publishing while Herald  and Telegraph were too slack. We await Hayes return call if any.

Postscript #4: A call to the Chief Magistrates Office of Graeme Henson, and a chat to Media Officer Angus Huntsdale, indicates their office will be looking at the transcript of the case to see if evidence of racial provocation was involved in the acquittal, and thus if effectively OShane has spared the public revenue the embarrassment of an expensive Anti Discrimination Board hearing and expensive payout.

Or maybe not now, as the Magistrate acquitting the defendant is in trouble and the defendant may want to get his pound of flesh on her behalf now too? Minister Watkins could well have this attack, as a non lawyer blow up in his face for exposing State Rail to a $10K racial abuse legal claim against their transit officers according to The Australian report referencing Magistrate OShane.


Posted by editor at 10:25 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 20 January 2007 7:45 AM EADT
Silent or is that silenced witness on Palm Island?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: indigenous

The bizarre situation where NSW lawyer working for the Qld government Sir Laurence Street is talking to the media as if his visit to Palm Island yesterday is merely coincidental to this horrific death of a 'a critical witness' is great cause for concern. The lead story in the Brisbane Courier Mail today (a one newspaper town, owned by News Ltd) is deeply disturbing and worth publishing in full below.

If 24 year old Patrick Bramwell died by suicide it raises the whole question of Street strictly ruling out taking 'any new evidence', and 'rejecting an open ended inquiry'  as reported in general media and here at SAM dated 5th January plus postscript updates (found by clicking top right date card):

5th January 2007

Sir Laurence Street really the corruption reformer wanted by many in the Doomadgee wrongful death case, after AWB comments?

and whether Street's approach tipped a depressed young man over the edge, that no one would listen to his witness, not Street, not the broader institutions of society for the last 2 or 3 years. If there was foul play, that speaks for itself.

The proximity of the police, already under a big shadow, the night before his death, the severe political exposure of the Qld ALP government to date, the on the record conservatism of Street the lawyer sent in to fix the controversy, suggests the administration of justice in Qld is well off the rails.

SAM's editor quite separately has heard direct witness there is quite a deal of entrenched corruption in the Qld police well after the famous 1987 Qld Fitzgerald Royal Commission into deep problems there.

This writer cannot get out of his mind the report that investigating police had dinner the night they arrived on Palm Island with the officer Chris Hurley who was being investigated. And the finding of the coroner strongly implicating the same Hurley yet no prosecution proceeding.

This Courier Mail story speaks volumes:

Cellmate found hanged

 By Peter Michael : THE review into the Palm Island death in custody will continue despite the death of another man who was lying beside Mulrunji when he died in a jail cell more than two years ago.

Mulrunji's silent witness

January 16, 2007 11:00pm

THE review into the Palm Island death in custody will continue despite the death of another man who was lying beside Mulrunji when he died in a jail cell more than two years ago.

Patrick Bramwell was found dead by his grandmother on Palm Island early yesterday, ending his life without the day in court he said he craved to tell his version of the tragic story.

His death came just hours before former NSW chief justice Sir Laurence Street visited the island as part of his review into the controversial decision not to recommend charges over Mulrunji's death.

Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare said last month there was not enough evidence to prove that former Palm Island police officer Chris Hurley "was criminally responsible" for the death of Mulrunji. Senior Sergeant Hurley was accused of bashing Mulrunji.

An autopsy found the man suffered four broken ribs, a ruptured liver and a ruptured portal vein.

Sir Laurence said yesterday the death of the key witness was unlikely to affect his final report, which could be completed within a week.

"He was a witness, but he was not (in that sense) indispensable," Sir Laurence said.

"We have one witness less but his evidence was part of the overall material of which there is eight ring-lock binders of documents."

Bramwell, 24, was found hanging from a tree in his front yard by his heartbroken grandmother Muriel Bramwell about midnight on Monday.

His life ended where all the trouble began – the same spot where, two years ago, his friend Mulrunji walked past and abused community police liaison officer Lloyd Bengaroo as Bramwell was being arrested for drunkenness.

His death gave Sir Laurence an emotional encounter first-hand with the tragedy and despair of Palm Island.

Bramwell was arrested by police for swearing on November 19, 2004, just before Mulrunji was arrested for the same offence.

The two men, who knew each other, were taken to the watchhouse in the same paddy wagon and shared the same jail cell.

Mulrunji later died from injuries deputy state coroner Christine Clements found had been caused by Snr Sgt Hurley during a scuffle at the police watchhouse.

Dressed in a dapper grey suit, tie, white hat and carrying a leather-bound walking cane, Sir Laurence, a respected former chief justice of New South Wales, met with the grieving Bramwell family on the veranda of their humble three-bedroom home.

"It is a very sad day to be here," said Sir Laurence, flanked by a team of legal advisers.

"My visit has been made even more poignant to come here on a day like this because its very tragic."

"I wanted to pay our respects and express our regrets," Sir Laurence said.

Bramwell's father, Patrick Bramwell senior, yesterday said his son's death came after police had detained the youth during a late-night drunken argument with his sister and had driven him 10 minutes out of town "to cool down".

Muriel Bramwell, 68, said she looked out her window about midnight and saw the young man hanging in the almond tree in her front yard.

"There was no wind blowing, he was dead still," said the grieving aboriginal elder. "I called for help and they took him down, I wanted to blow air into him, but it was too late."

This death follows the death-in-custody of Mulrunji and the subsequent suicide of Mulrunji's 19-year-old son Eric.

Palm Island men's group spokesman Robert Blackley said:

"It is not just a personal loss but a massive blow in our case against Hurley."

Sir Laurence yesterday shook hands with schoolchildren and visited the site of Mulrunji's death and the local council during his hour-and-a-half visit to the island, 60km north-east of Townsville.

He said he expected to finish his report "within days if not the week".

.....................................

And refer this report by very experienced journalist Malcolm Brown on legal matters of Fairfax on location http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/palm-island-mourns-third-death/2007/01/16/1168709754663.html

.............................

Pretty much the same story at rival The Australian here: Mulrunji's cell mate found dead. One thing rings true from Street in the story here - a determination to press on given 'tragedy all around'. But that's a double edged sword including consideration of all relevant evidence (which is a very sound principle of administrative law actually), not some inflexible refusal to ignore new evidence because it's ostensibly beyond a politician's 'terms of reference' of an inquiry with all the vested interest that might involve. In short Street is wrong in the SAM editor's view to parade such a  minimalist approach to his task at Palm Island, re Cole on AWB or Fitzgerald Royal Commission back in 1987. Especially when society and politics look to lawyers for leadership when the chips are really down. Not minimalism as a so called budgeting virtue. In short f*ck the budget. Get the truth.

Postscript #1

Crikey.com.au ezine January 18th O7 writes

8. The sorry state of indigenous affairs in Qld just got sorrier

Graham Ring from the National Indigenous Times writes:

Queensland’s Beattie Government has thus far seemed guilty only of staggering ineptitude in its administration of Indigenous affairs. However a report from Tony Koch in today’s Australian raises the stakes beyond mere incompetence, suggesting that the Government has deliberately suppressed a report which details the extent of Indigenous disadvantage in Queensland.

The report, prepared last year at the behest of former minister John Mickel, warned of the “urgent need to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples standard of living” and recommended “immediate and sustained action to reduce the disparity in all life stages”.

However, this damning document never saw the light of day. After racking up another crushing election victory in September of last year, Beattie moved quickly to abolish the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy, merging its functions into the Department of Communities.

However, any post-election attempt by the government to downplay issues of Indigenous justice was foiled by saturation media coverage of the Coroner’s inquiry into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in police custody on Palm Island in November 2004.

Only weeks after the election, Queensland’s acting state coroner Christine Clements handed down her findings into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee. which had occurred almost two years earlier. The Coroner concluded that the actions of Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley caused the fatal injuries. Yet, Queensland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare found that Hurley had no charge to answer, describing the death as a "terrible accident".

The public outrage that followed saw the Beattie Government in damage control, citing the independence of the DPP and attempting to tough things out. With the government bleeding badly, Attorney General Kerry Shine eventually wrote to the DPP advising her that a review of the decision would be "strongly supported" by Premier Beattie. Clare was unmoved, issuing a statement saying that if the case had gone to trial "no law abiding citizen…would have found this man guilty."

The following day, Shine released an extraordinary statement, saying that Clare had made an "unexpected offer" to provide him with the file on the Palm Island death. Retired Queensland District Court judge, Pat Shanahan, was commissioned to conduct the review. However Shanahan stood down just days later when it became public knowledge that he had been part of the panel that appointed Clare as DPP in 2000.

In an effort to rescue the situation, the Beattie Government went beyond Queensland’s borders and appointed distinguished NSW jurist Sir Laurence Street to review the matter.

Street’s report is expected to be completed within weeks.

Then came the news yesterday that 24-year-old Mr Bramwell - who had shared Mulrunji’s cell on the night he died - hanged himself on Palm Island last Monday, amidst allegations that he had been subject to police pressure not to talk about events surrounding Mulrunji’s death. This further tragedy underscores the sorry tale of the Queensland Government’s mishandling of events.

With the ham-fisted bungling of the Shanahan appointment, and the tragic suicide of Bramwell, things have gone pear-shaped for the Beattie Government. The suppressed report obtained by The Oz suggests that the fruit is rotten to the core.

With the Government now haemorrhaging, and Indigenous leaders like Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine continuing to apply the blow-torch, perhaps only a Royal Commission will see public confidence fully restored.


Posted by editor at 8:38 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007 2:38 PM EADT
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Fatal 'ice storms' in USA more evidence of dangerous climate change?
Mood:  blue
Topic: ecology

We reported on these freaky images of inches thick translucent ice on poles and grass here (just click date top right of the screen):

Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Freaky grass ice storm images

Now read more of the lethality of these "ice storms" which I for one have never heard of here in Australia, in a breaking story on the local News Ltd website, and quoted fully for the drama effect with 400,000 people affected by power outages, and an estimated US$500 million in ruined citrus crops: 

Up to 39 dead in US storms

A HUGE winter storm moved across the central US today, killing at least 25 people and prompting President George W. Bush to declare an emergency in the state of Oklahoma.

Since Friday, weather-related accidents have killed 11 people in Oklahoma and eight in Missouri, according to local officials. The Kansas City Star newspaper reported that six people had died in Kansas.

Mr Bush declared an emergency in Oklahoma, where an ice storm has left more than 100,000 people without power yesterday.

Activated by Mr Bush's emergency declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was distributing generators and bottled water to communities impacted by the ice storm, said the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

In Missouri, seven people were killed in traffic accidents caused by slick conditions while one died from carbon monoxide poisoning, a common cause of death when those without power use fuel-burning stoves to heat their homes.

More than 300,000 people lost power in Missouri due to downed power lines.

In Kansas, five people were reported killed in weather-related traffic accidents and one person was poisoned by carbon monoxide exposure, said state officials quoted by the Kansas City Star.

In Texas to the south, the governor called out the National Guard after heavy rain caused flash flooding and dramatic high-water rescues.

The storm forced the cancellation of dozens of flights out of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, according to the airport's website, temperatures reported near freezing.

Flooding was also reported in the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, CNN television said.

Record-breaking cold weather even hit the Pacific Coast state of California, where mild temperatures usually prevail all year.

In central Los Angeles, the thermometer dropped to 2C this morning, a temperature not felt in the city for 75 years.

Farmers in the Central Valley and the southern part of the state worried about freezing temperatures ruining the lucrative citrus crop, the Los Angeles Times and other media reported.

Photographs showed icicles hanging off of tangerine trees in a Central Valley orchard near Fresno, a rare sight in the state.

California oranges, lemons and other produce worth as much as half a billion dollars were probably ruined, the Los Angeles Times said.


The storm in central states was moving eastward, and had already caused ice storms in western parts of New York state, forecasters said.

"Things are improving but it's cold,'' National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Sullivan said.

Postscript #1 - Very big evangelical church organisations are combining forces with scientific organisations in the USA to demand action on global warming as here:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/01/14/evangelicals_scientists_join_forces_to_combat_global_warming/

"Evangelicals, scientists join forces to combat global warming By Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press Writer  January 14, 2007"

Postscript #2 - it seems even conservative Republicans are getting worried about Alaska melting

 http://www.grist.org/news/muck/2007/01/12/unexpected/index.html?source=daily

which is a disaster for alot of infrastructure suggested on an earlier post here at SAM about our teacher friend on a stint in remote Canada: Seems normally frozen 'winter roads' over swamp lakes and bog are only viable for a month mid January to mid February and this puts remote areas at risk of depopulation for inadequate time to truck in supplies.


Posted by editor at 11:49 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 2:18 PM EADT
Gerard Henderson's predictable white supremacism in the SMH today?
Mood:  down
Topic: big media

Gerard Henderson, the same fellow sacked from The Age sister newspaper for being so boorish and unpopular, has this today in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Moderates say enough's enough

GERARD HENDERSON | The public statements of Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly have focused attention on young Muslims who do not share his extreme positions.

Trouble is Henderson is not "a moderate" himself who is regularly associated with the extremist free market HR Nicholls Society:

http://www.hrnicholls.com.au/

Given the Euro white dominated big corporate boards in Australia (and western society generally), that objective observers (ie those not financially dependent) see as puppeteers of governments - not even bothering to sit in Parliaments that they fund with big money politics - it is hardly surprising that Henderson attacks coffee coloured Hilali for defying that allegedly axiomatic culture.

Henderson appears as extreme and hysterical as he accuses Hilali of being with this:

"Granting permanent residence to Hilaly was one of the worst public policy decisions in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia. "

One of the "worst", of course Gerard, up there with

- the Vietnam War,

-  the Iraq War now,

- the White Australia policy,

- woodchipping of old growth forest canopy for decades which are naturally humid and wildfire resistant,

- export of iron to Japan rained back on us as bombs in WW2,

- land clearing, uranium mining/export, and rebuff of Kyoto global warming treaty

- failure to capitalise on our solar energy advantage with industry,

- cotton farms that stuff the Murray Darling river system, 

- stolen wages of slave Black labour, the undeclared warfare against same up to the 1930s by some accounts

- perhaps Hilali is worse than introduction of the cane toad, or pre 1900 the rabbit, the fox, prickly pear, camel and water buffalo?

I mean how flaky can a commentator get?

Who is Henderson fooling besides himself with this covert white supremacism? The future is in fact coffee coloured and, you know, it's OK. It's a little confronting for us Anglos sure but it is actually quite okay, not least the melanoma rates. Half the luck of the coffee coloured amongst us including Hilali himself.

Here is one simple reason straight from biology - hybrid vigour: The product of mixing is stronger than the ingredients. Australia will be greater and better for the mixing based on sound genetics. 

Henderson should be bracketed with the Paul Sheehans of this world for their Old Australia stereotypes and convenient airbrushing of the Iraq War disaster with outrage over Hilali a mere device and scapegoat for federal government incompetence writ large. A face saving parody of Australia's shameful White Australia past. Witness the farmer on 7.30 Report last night, a councillor at Tamworth no less, railing against "a multicultural future for our children".

Talk about backward.

One has to ask is Henderson just another white supremacist old fogey whose analysis has to be read down accordingly?

Note: This post builds on an earlier coverage of this issue, with postscript media monitoring at the end, just click the date top right for:

Friday, 12 January 2007
Egyptian Australian cleric scorns white western supremacist mythology here, courts big talkies
Postscript #1: There is a hilarious article in The Australian rival to the Herald today that seems to get it:
- John Heard: Mufti's madness is true-blue larrikinism
but then there is the existential angst in this probe of the Left for defending Hilali's civil rights, significant for perhaps acknowledging the Left has an arguable case on obnoxious white economic supremacism:
- Tanveer Ahmed: Not bedfellows, but a political attraction
but nevertheless the Establishment Australian defaults to this barely concealed white supremacist position by a government MP here:
- Brett Mason: Nation must get precedence over ethnicity

Posted by editor at 9:34 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 1:27 PM EADT
Transport congestion will strangle Sydney, Greens agree with Federal Govt report
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: election nsw 2007

 Responding to this report in the Big Media today:

 

Trucking boom to strangle city roads

Truck AT OR NEAR choke point already, Sydney's roads will be jammed by a trucking boom tipped to outstrip growth in private car use, a federal government study warns.

The word "strangle" in the headline reminds SAM of these images of June 2005 with the city shrouded in Smog (which is the moniker I use for Sydney to country people) taken about 15 km out from the GPO at Arncliffe:


It also remind me of yellow campaign T-shirts by the Botany Bay & Catchment Association, covering south/western half of Sydney, umbrella to 33 community groups opposing Port Botany expansion and if I can get a picture of one I will add it in due course.

The Greens, appropriate to this NSW election season have responded quite realistically here:

 

MEDIA RELEASE
16 January 2007

No more motorways, freight on rail solution to Sydney’s congestion crisis

Greens MP and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said today that Sydney can only be saved from growing traffic congestion if plans for major motorway projects are abandoned and replaced with ramped up funding for public transport and moving more freight on rail.  


”The congested future predicted for Sydney in a report by the federal Department of Transport and Regional Services can only be avoided by fast tracking more freight on rail options and stopping motorway construction," Ms Rhiannon said


”The report’s prediction that by 2026 Sydney streets will be clogged with 2.4 million commercial trips and 9.9 million car trips should be a wake up call to the Labor and Liberal parties.

”The Greens challenge the major parties to scrap the motorway plans for Sydney. Any plans to extend the M4, link the F3 and the M2 or even revive the F6 will deliver the ugly congested future.

”The Opposition call for a 50 year transport plan is meaningless if they can’t commit to no more motorways. The evidence is in that motorways increase traffic congestion.

”Truck induced gridlock will hold back the economy, boost greenhouse gas emissions and damage community health. This is the future under current Labor and Liberal transport policies.

”The solution is moving more freight by rail.

”The Greens transport plan for Sydney calls for the fast tracking of the South West and North West Rail Links, an increased number of dedicated bus lanes and the introduction of integrated fares and timetables,” Ms Rhiannon said.

[end]

For more on the truck monsters that will eat sydney courtesy of overt ALP State Govt policy (and covert Federal Coalition policy) also see links and information here Botany Bay because its all about centralising inside Sydney supply to a NSW and Eastern Australian market to reduce costs for big shipping companies, and big retailers, which the trucking industry is more than happy to aid and abet. All at the expense of the amenity and health of 3 out of 4 million Sydney siders who will be trapped in the congestion and air pollution.

That's what happens when Big Business buys government with money politics. People die of air pollution. About 600 a year in Sydney apparently.


Posted by editor at 9:18 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 1:18 PM EADT
Time to take the Epoch Times broadsheet more seriously in Sydney Town?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: independent media

“Something big is happening next week at the Epoch Times” bugled this weekly freebie thin newspaper about a month ago.

 

Sure enough it went from Sydney City Hub, or more well known, Daily Telegraph tabloid size to broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald size.

 

The SMH is going through its own changes too, from CBD location to fringe CBD at Pyrmont in 2007 sometime. One feels a certain corporate security rationale in this age of rocket launcher home grown errorism for the decision to side step the allure of the CBD though to be fair their main competition News Ltd has been on the fringe for decades at Holt St, Surry Hills.

 

SAM’s editor is paid to deliver the Hub for Alternative Media Group, and noticed the internationally diverse Epoch Times of strong Asian, and anti ‘Communist’ Party of China flavour, at least a year ago. It was difficult to find them via google last time I tried but its all laid out here now:

 

http://en.epochtimes.com/aboutus.asp

 

About a year ago ET was in many of the same 600 odd inner city outlets I visited each month. I have seen it well beyond the inner city now too.

 

I got worried. With all that blue colour format I wondered is it a Liberal Party front, and said so at one outlet, Balmain public library. But it became clear it was Taiwanese based from the content, anti China government essays, prominent human rights and Falung Gong stories, and indeed some quite good original reporting with solid editorial values over actual news. I get the impression it is challenging the Murdoch in bed with China business relationship, and the spin up to the Bejing Olympics in 2008.

 

I could deliver a paper like this I thought.

 

At the local pool recently it was the only reading material to hand (January 3-9, 2007) and I was impressed with the probity of their stories: “Tourists ignore Thai bombings” a view I had heard from various young travellers and friends direct this summer Sydney. Then this ‘amusing’ story about the inscrutable “Chinese espionage difficult to contain” quoting one Mr Appel who “worked as an FBI special agent for 20 years” and how trips to the Wall and duchessing with cakes and food generally is a tactic for cooption of westerners. Also defector Chen Yonglin in the story. That’s of interest.

 

( I had to laugh at a parallel quote coincidentally read at the pool next day in the Latham Diaries Friday 28th February 2003 on a delegation to China “My 42nd birthday …Zhou Enlai had been good enough to organise a cake”!)

 

ET ran a solid ‘anti capital punishment for Saddam’ story quoting Kevin Rudd not seen in other press, but echoing mainstream cartoonists savaging the censorship of witness to USA dealings in the 1980s.

 

Another good tip straight off the AAP about ‘Warren Mundine’s NSW Native Title Services’ with Warren involved in a big Githabul land use agreement in NSW, but also  till recently the tragic Palm Island death in custody case. Could be related as I wondered if Mundine had been mollified over the latter by the former. And so it goes on with serious news mostly unlike so much in News Ltd or even Fairfax. A bit of local Asian business advertising but not much. A bit stern and light on infotainment to really expand circulation but one day maybe.

 

A story about an incredible “50,000 environmental protests” in China last year in ‘International firms blamed for China’s pollution increase’ expediently labelled “environmental colonialism” by the dictatorship there, while airbrushing the role of numerous major local companies pumping up the industrialisation. This story was echoed on ABC Radio National this morning (13 days later, January 16th) with the solid journo Paul Barry.

 

Yes, Epoch Times is an impressive small newspaper and should be added to the independent media diversity bracket challenging the monolithic News Ltd and Fairfax here.


Posted by editor at 7:25 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 7:35 AM EADT
Monday, 15 January 2007
Was Carl Scully honest?
Mood:  happy
Topic: election nsw 2007

Ex NSW Minister Carl Scully has finally followed through with his political suicide pact with his boss Premier Iemma agreed months ago:

 

Scully quits politics, giving himself a pat on the back

 

It's been a calmly choreographed final departure for Scully today down the worn track of previous Carr ministers who left a stench of incompetence and worse before Iemma took over. Scully understood the political gravity months back when he quickly offered his resignation from the front bench after multiple lies to Parliament were revealed.

 

The flushing out of Carl late last week in the press quizzing a political revival may well have come from crafty Iemma himself who needs a clean break from the Carr team to have a decent election show against the contender Peter Debnam, Opposition Leader but really ‘the PM Howard man’.

 

This clean slate imperative became even more compelling when the Howard federal team announced on the weekend their strong intention to support Debnam with ‘Here comes the cavalry’ metaphors in the Fairfax SunHerald via veteran journo Alex Mitchell. (Is he the only heavy weight there over summer?):

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/here-comes-the-cavalry-pm-orders-federal-troops-to-fight-fordebnam/2007/01/13/1168105230345.html 

 

Mitchell also ran this story:

 

Scully quits politics after cabinet snub

 

As one wag commented, said to be an ALP source, ‘public office has finished with Carl more than the other way round’ despite face saving ‘future plans in the private sector’. Bracket Scully therefore with unelectable Carr, Knowles, Refshauge in the year long ALP spring clean. It just took longer with Scully.

 

Stand in Jennifer Byrne on 702 radio canvassed the real reasons for the demise in the "Party Liners" segment with ex ALP federal minister Gary Punch and diplomatic ex Coalition (Nationals) state minister Wendy Machin. (The two in typical duopoly franchise style are on some chummy board together also.)

 

Byrne asked this great impromptu question about Carl “Was he honest?”. Amazing how three words can pack such a punch. The 'old hack' journo ex Australian 60 Minutes, wifey of Denton and kid(s) has still got it.

 

This parried Gary Punch’s extraordinary soliloquy for Scully who just ‘wanted to get things done’ (ironically Punch having the record of honourable resignation in protest over the mad 3rd runway infrastructure decision causing massive noise pollution, and vandalism of Botany Bay).

 

So was Scully honest? It would be defamatory for this writer to answer directly. So I will give an anecdote to answer indirectly.

 

The editor of SAM met Carl Scully in person with a delegation of senior environment group reps in about 1997 or 8 in the politician’s government offices. It was about the planned Eastern Distributor tollway from memory carving into the public parkland. Scully was most concerned about the usually ALP friendly Jeff Angel of TEC calling the good people at the RTA road dept “corrupt” in a press release. In words to the effect of "That’s not fair Jeff" Carl loudly complained "These are decent family men and women in the public service".

 

Now this writer and Jeff Angel don’t agree on many things not least his close and comfortable (including financial) dealings with the Carr government, so Scully must have been worried that even Angel was using such harsh language publicly. Neurotic even.

 

(As for Angel if he wasn't effectively 'duchessed' by the ALP then he has been most of the last 6 years like Peter Garrett today.)

 

But why would Angel or we generally think the RTA under Scully was “corrupt” and why would Scully be worried it had political resonance? Anything to do with revolving doors between Australian parliament(s) and Macquarie Bank? Or revolving doors between the NSW Labor Council and road construction companies? Anything to do with big donations of the building (labour and corporate) sector to the ALP?

 

The truth is people in civil society were noticing transport planning outsourced to private vested interests since the M2 in 1994, M4, M5, M5 East, then ED. The public interest as well as air quality and public transport patronage was going south at a fast rate of knots on Scully’s watch and his successors.

 

So dear reader ask yourself: Was Scully honest? Was anyone in the ALP honest? If he was so good and/or honest why is Premier Iemma so glad to be rid of him? It’s not in this writer’s view for the reason Gary Punch tried to advance on radio this morning, that ‘the RTA was a bureaucracy not up to their job’. Au contraire, the RTA delivered to the ALP and vested interests every time this last 10 years under Carr and Scully when it came to tollway construction and fat fingers in pies.

 

This writer is fond of recalling an ABC Quentin Dempster Stateline tv show years back where an employee dispute hearing at the Industrial Relations Commission was reported. Viewers enjoyed scurrillous evidence by the staffer to then ALP Minister Gabrielle Harrison claiming junior Gabrielle said to her "this ALP government is the most corrupt in the history of NSW". The evidence was presented by south coast unionist turned legal advocate Paul Matters for the erstwhile staffer.

 

An embarrassing quote to be sure, possibly not helpful to resolution of the IRC case itself, and indeed only hearsay by the aggrieved staffer attributing the quote to her ex ministerial 'employer' (technically the Parliament is employer, but only on advice of the MP). Harrison later denied the quote outside the court, that is not on oath if memory serves. But then she would have to for a quiet life post politics in this ALP town, as a widow, with a young son to raise.

 

Personally I tend to think still youthful Harrison did say it, she did mean it, the staffer used the truth of the quote to hurt her Minister's career as revenge for the staffer ending up at the IRC, as well as Matters with his own history,  and this was in truth the ALP in government in NSW then and today. That indeed is why reputable Dempster reported it as probitive of something. If Harrison did say it she was talking about Carl Scully. 

 

The staffer lost her IRC unfair dismissal case. Minister Harrison soon quit both cabinet and politics. That might be a new story entitled "Was Gabrielle Harrison too honest?"


Posted by editor at 11:28 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007 5:44 AM EADT
'Increased policing of young people all about votes not solutions' ...maybe
Mood:  hug me
Topic: election nsw 2007

No one on the left likes to be known as a fascist but this story running no. 2 on the SMH web page index frontpage  today:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/armed-duel-during-family-picnic-fight/2007/01/15/1168709645393.html

 

runs counter to the sense of the Green Party media release below. It would only be indicative of plenty of social conflicts over the holidays.

 

Here is an even more scary story, and notice the gang pride theme of immature minds:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bomb-case-accused-locked-up/2007/01/14/1168709616111.html

 

But before I read the Herald stories I was reacting from my own extensive observations of the Sydney streets of inner Sydney of flighty immature school age to 20 year old young men wandering around in the silly season Christmas to New Year and since: Keen for action around alcohol and partying and girls and pride games. Looking for action and no supervision. A jumble of identity and physical confusions, and suffering various levels of boredom.

 

You can call it law and order tub thumping but the heat and season adds resonance to the Iemma political strategy out in voter land.

 

That's my observation and this worthy notion which I totally agree with about frameworks for teens to enjoy themselves constructively stuck at the bottom of the Greens release looks pretty wimpy compared to the danger stories above:

 

"Dealing with alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour is a challenge.

The starting point has to be working with young people. More youth
workers and more late night transport options would help to reduce
unacceptable behaviour," Ms Rhiannon said."

 

In the last weekend I have seen 2 mounted police horses down in front of Banana Joes 9.30 pm in Marrickville, and along Bondi Beach. It was appreciated because I did feel safer from the symbolism. In the second case a mob of children gathered in curiousity to look at the impressive animals and talk to the horsewomen.

 

But the Greens are right too. What about those kids when the police move on? They are still left in a state of boredom prone to high risk behaviours. One thing the successful local government Bondi Beach Safety Committee 1996-1998 taught this writer as a member of that committee: Boredom and crowds are a bad mix. And that means social resources for youth.

 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Lee Rhiannon"

 

MEDIA RELEASE 12 January 2007

Increased policing of young people all about votes not solutions

 

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said the Iemma government's three-month plan to increase police surveillance of young people is a crude election pitch that will not assist young people or make our communities safer  

 

"The Greens are committed to making communities safer but putting more police on the streets in areas where young people congregate will not achieve this," said Ms Rhiannon

 

"This plan is clearly political. Premier Morris Iemma cannot pretend this is just an operational matter

 

"In agreeing to a three month policing plan the Premier has signalled that this will be another law and order election.

 

"The Premier is trying to stay in front of the opposition in the tough on crime battle between the major parties

 

"This plan could well backfire. Once again young people will be depicted as a 'criminal group' and that society is under threat from a 'youth crime wave'.

 

"Police Commissioner Ken Moroney's announcement that the special patrols will include mounted police, dog squads, highway patrol, licensing police and transit police is a serious misjudgement on how to handle young people

 

"The Greens are concerned that this plan could result in over surveillance of marginalised young people

 

"Dealing with alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour is a challenge.

 

"The starting point has to be working with young people. More youth workers and more late night transport options would help to reduce unacceptable behaviour," Ms Rhiannon said.

........................

 

Postscript #1: Sure enough this lead story in the Sydney Daily Bugle, err sorry Telegraph today refers to the local government Safety Committee model that succeeded in Bondi Beach in the late1990's. But the underlying solution of that committee was positive frameworks for youthful energy to address boredom and immature psychology, not least in holiday times:

 

 How we'll stop thugs

 By Joe Hildebrand: THE State Government has unveiled the biggest community policing program in more than 20 years and will launch a range of radical measures to tackle street violence.


Posted by editor at 10:14 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007 12:11 PM EADT
The Bilal Skaf 55 year sentence for gang rape by Justice Michael Finane
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: peace

 By Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW

When I studied the subject of Jurisprudence in 1989 at Australian National University which I greatly enjoyed, we were taught there is an institutional conspiracy in the administration of justice around the choice of judges.

That is the judges are chosen from a fairly limited group of society, who had a certain socio economic childhood, education, religious training, ethnicity, career as a lawyer and then choice as a judge.

This is the realist theory of the law, as a social contract we all sign up to to live here, where morality is not nearly as significant as maintaining order, because disorder creates confusion and that leads to conflict and social breakdown. So the law is more about keeping the peace than actually doing justice.

[Notice too the legalistic objective of keeping the peace is only one social good. If law is too strict it stifles creativity, freedom of expression, and innovation. Too much 'legalistic order' can be not only boring, it can be unhealthy to civil liberty and so fascist. As always it's a balancing act for society as a whole.]

Similarly there is a jurisprudential academic view this background influence reflects the approach of judges to court decisions on any particular matter.

In a way this is common sense, and blatantly obvious. A judge is affected by their own background personal experience. But this has to be applied professionally according to the evidence in a case and the actual law. So much for the human condition.

One presumes Judge Michael Finane is such an orthodox judicial officer.

Indeed this writer has met him socially on one occassion at his home long before these controversial cases and some of his family around the topic of permaculture gardening. This puts this writer in a delicate position. One is able properly to comment on legal decisions but not hold judges in contempt by suggesting they take note of anything in their decisions other than the evidence before them. For instance their family background should not be a factor beyond what is known as "judicial facts", that is commonly known things that everyone accepts without evidence - say the sun comes up and sets, the harbour bridge is big etc. They have to be common blatant things beyond controversy. Perhaps. Does it includes a father's concern for the well being of his own?

So from a legal theory point of view I wish to comment on the fairly widespread view amongst some critics of the 55 year very long sentence of Skaf by Finane that discrimination might be involved. No. Simply I don't believe it and here is why:

There is one thing in common between Finane and critic Mufti Hilali - they are both fathers of adult children. My intuitive belief is that subliminally or subconsciously Finane must have been influenced by this reality of his own family. Similarly if any of Hilali's daughters had been violently abused he would probably be quoting the Koran or Old Testament dictum of capital punishment, rather than 55 years.

There might be quite a few women's groups with sympathy for that too, as victims of violent sexual abuse, though the law is properly not in the business of revenge. 

So I don't buy the theory about Finane prejudice against Islam in his harsh punishment. No, I think it's an explanation around evidence and law, training and yes his own family, far closer to Hilali's own life journey perhaps than the Mufti actually realises. Not the evil of discrimination but the positive motive of a family man.

It is regretable to mention a judge's family in analysing his decision but there wouldn't be a good defence lawyer in the whole country who didn't make similar calculations of the presiding judicial officer in a case. What's he like? How many sugars in his coffee and every other personal detail. So it is with Finane and that's the burden too of a judge's family.

I write this in what I believe to be the public interest, and a small risk to my own practising certificate, as there is a gathering momentum behind the 'discrimination against Islam' theory of Skaf's sentence which calls up the need for credible alternative versions of reality of which a father's natural concerns for their own surely plays a part while properly exercising a public duty.


Posted by editor at 8:44 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 10:33 PM EADT

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