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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 22 June 2007
Aboriginal children, and the perfect political storm moves Howard to more action/revenge?
Mood:  hug me
Topic: indigenous

Picture: Jimari aged 4 picture of this writer, we've kept this last 10 years. A child dearly loved and as I understand is at a selective school here in Sydney (?) these days. He misspels my name as LOM and draws me with black skin and a beard. I like that. He asked me once "Why is my skin brown?" I told him without blinking that's normal for an Aboriginal boy and that was what he needed as we went on with things.

I keep coming back to the Brendan Keilar picture as a child in another story here on SAM news blog, his gorgeous children with their silent accusation - why didn't you help save our dad from violence, and now this story about beautiful Aboriginal children at risk.

This is why: Those healthy loved children beaming out of their class photo year 6, 1975 we pictured in an earlier story including Brendan Kielar and  this writer aged 11 or so) shows child raising done right. We were the social echo 30 years ago of the healthy kids of Brendan, the next generation, he raised well and strong till his outrageous death Monday this week when evil trespassed on this natural cycle. Brendan, a perfect exemplar of the Liberal Party faithful philosophy of life cut short by foul murder.

What power all those innocents, including front and centre of the major Fairfax press here in Sydney 20th June 07 and many other places in Australia?

Exactly this: Brendan died a successful lawyer, and an admired one by the profession left "numb" by the foul violence in Melbourne. The federal govt and many in Opposition are filled with lawyers that we expect shuddered at BK's disgusting death, not least John Howard ever the student of Big Media.

The Keilar family can believe the anger and frustration will be huge. Indeed we posed the question here "Where does the evil come from?" noting the cyclical nature of violence and the instinctive urge for revenge. We suggested a better Christian way somehow not the same old base aggression.  Today page 3 the Daily Telegraph today 22nd June in a comment by veteran Mal Farr, that paper states "PM leads the way against evil".

Not the evil that struck the Keilar family exactly causing their desperate searing loss, especially those kids well caught from falling into a crack by State Govt public intervention. (Bravo Victorian ALP Govt.) No, the PM is moving to catch the beautiful Aboriginal children falling in the cracks now, also victims of criminal violence. Will it work? We can only hope so.

See what I'm saying? The public awareness of duty to children is high. The challenge is very great on Black kids, and the reports are in again.

And to top it off the ALP federal Opposition have performed strongly on the federal govt's territory of the economics of productivity. Democracy really engaged, a real adversarial contest as here Wayne Swan: Howard, Costello in state of denial | Opinion | A moral victory for the Opposition in the conservative The Australian.

So the federal govt in this hard fought election year contest have moved in turn in reaction to poach the traditional territory of the traditional ALP being social welfare and support for Black Australia.

It may not be the most pure political motivation to shift the focus off the economics of productivity, or climate change debates the govt is surely losing, but the bipartisan general support to save child victims (demonstrated in Brendan Keilar's case above), must happen, for them but  for our own society's sake too. These damaged Aboriginal kids are the prison population of 5 and 10 years from now. The suicides. The petrol sniffers. The bank robbers.  It's as simple as that. The Howard govt want's to break the cycle the Left traditionally worry about too.

We feel all this is facilitated by the huge communication impact in the Big Media around Brendan's white kids as victims in a ripple effect from criminal violence, and the terrifying conundrum "Where does the evil come from?". The answer to that, we submit, is that it's all around us like benign bacteria and viruses that only become really dangerous in unhealthy environments turning toxic like the common cold into pneumonia this winter, we notice sending people in the political community to their sick bed.

It's the healthy social and general environment that we all as citizens have to work so hard at to nurture Australia's children. The kind of incredible endeavour and discipline demonstrated in Brendan Keilar's life for his kids.

You just keep achieving stuff don't you Brendan by your example and death. A life's work which is still travelling, and how.

We've seen this before - the transmutation of one semi related concern to another big concern in Big Politics: The angst and disgust at the hanging of a reformed Van Ngyuen in Singapore, resulting in huge public awareness and this Federal Govt reaction with hundreds of million$ in aid for other victims of circumstance in Asia - the Pakistan Earthquake in that case, and other initiatives. To prove to the voters our Govt does have a heart. They do of sorts, in a political context at least.

Those in the Big Media without these insights of the synergistic nature of morality with self interest in Big Politics are displaying understandable cynicism at the Howard Govt 'ambush' of the States and Territory Governemnts and 11 years of delay. Sure all reasoned suspicion but a bit narrow.

Last night on ABC PM Mark Colvin tested Minister Brough what had changed between an interview last Friday and yesterday afternoon only 6 days?  A Cabinet meeting was the response. A Cabinet meeting this week. Was it on Wednesday 20th June when those white children stared out of the front pages in silent accusation as victims one step removed from ultra criminal violence? Because if you care for them you must care for all children the victims of criminal violence regardless of race colour or creed.

Did those childish eyes one way or another bring the killer Hudson in to surrender? We suspect so. They certainly closed doorways to escape.

The key to understanding this big announcement is the PM's choice of rhetoric - 'what if it was in Dickson (a suburb of Canberra) or Melbourne or Sydney?' he asks. That's the picture of Brendan's kids articulated by the Prime Minister on my radio today. Howard's a father and he knows the power of those innocents with just a look or a word or a picture above. Indeed Howard was a city lawyer like Brendan with kids like him and he might well have recognised himself.

Claire Martin the NT First Minister for the ALP knows this is a road train sized political juggernaut of huge moral and legal proportions and she is right to say time to act bigger. The federal opposition leader too. If it's a legacy pride thing as one talk back caller says well I don't care a jot one way or another.

Let's see how the detail and cross cultural cooperation pans out including existing expertise in the sector. Maybe we Australians can make it better for a change?


Postscript #1 25th June 2005

Warren the cartoonist at the Sydney Telegraph has an inspired cartoon about the nature of high level politiking over this serious "above politics" issuem involving the life and death of our young Indigenous citizens. Leveraging another story evocative picture story on page 7 "Like bats out of hell - Endangered creature swoops on park land" (offline for now), combined with the fact of end of Parliamentary sessions in Canberra for the next 6 weeks or more, Warren offers this:

Posted by editor at 10:08 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007 11:09 AM NZT
Sunday, 10 June 2007
John Howard's betrayal of practical reconciliation with broken $40M 1996 election promise for Cape York Land Use Agreement
Mood:  sharp
Topic: indigenous

This article in the Weekend Australian, Noel Pearson


The ideal equilibrium | The Australian Your Say Blog


should have read - John Howard’s 1996 betrayal of “practical reconciliation” $40M broken election promise for Cape York Land Use Agreement (CYLUA). Because those are the seeds of the desperation that Pearson is complaining about but refuses to acknowledge in his article:


Here is the reference for that broken 1996 election promise, compounded again in 1998 with another broken pre election media release promise of Minister Robert Hill


$40 Million in Federal Funding for Cape York Plan Media Release 16 ...


The money was never paid to jump start employment in the Cape and the CYLUA became a dead letter despite 1996 promises to support it prior to the Howard election ousting Paul Keating. The Wilderness Society corroborates this real history of Noel Pearson's new friends amongst the conservatives:


The Wilderness Society - Cape York and Robert Hill's folly


Noel Pearson of Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership

 appears to have become the catspaw of Big Capital through the pages of the anti green, big coal The Australian. Maybe he is getting worried that his compromise with the Howard Govt are about to run out of time come the next federal election.


Noel Pearson makes egregious slurs in his column this weekend. A slur that must not go unanswered. Nor should his airbrushing of the Howard Govt’s wicked failures in regards to implementation of the Cape York Land Use Agreement of 1996.


First the slur


“Few tears are shed when thousands die and billions suffer. It may be the underlying psychology of extreme Western environmentalism is that mass depopulation from disease and starvation would be an ecological benefit.”


But who exactly, specifically holds these views in Australia, Mr Pearson? The truth is the sensitivity to the rights of the environment springs from the same respect for all life and Indigenous People and culture.


I want to know if Pearson is accusing this writer of such. Specifically. If he is I will be looking at a defamation action.


In all of his article this weekend he omits in the most sleazy way the history under Howard that he lauds including achievement via one Greg Sargent of The Wilderness Society who tragically died of skin cancer some years ago, and can't speak for himself.


The context of the weasly Pearson article above such as disgusting editorial here and accompanying articles by “environment reporter” Matthew Warren here 


Extreme greens prevent growth


and here


Green means go for show | Science & nature | The Australian


tells its all.


Warren is the anti climate change green writer from the Coal Lobby that puts mafia in the phrase 'greenhouse mafia'. What will sea rise do to the Cape or the wetlands I wonder? And let's not forget Warren's pro uranium mining position for his paper, after the weapons testing in the jungles up there on the Cape decades ago. Here is the referencing ABC TV Documentaries: Fortress Australia


(We are advised that film by Peter Butt refers to a simulated nuclear test in the Iron Range National Park around 1972, and the local police sergeant died of a mysterious illness 10 months later.)


So we feel Pearson is indeed being positioned as the catspaw of big capital against independent and committed green movement which includes the The Wilderness Society, not beholden to any political party, unlike WWF to the Coalition, or ACF to the Labor Party, both big business in alliance setting.


It is all so pathetically transparent and immoral as the smear by Waren of Kevin Rudd’s Prius presumably chosen not only for greenhouse claims, but also for it's low particulate pollution impact, in urban areas at least as important an environmental agenda, and probably recyclables. These latter criteria are totally airbrushed in that article same edition of the paper. Typical. Toyota no doubt make other claims about their environmental performance that can be debated but at least they are pitching.


Why no mention of the Howard betrayal of “practical reconciliation” with the broken election promise of $40M to implement a pro cattle and agri industry model in that CYLUA? There was plenty of industry agenda within that CYLUA under Farley, Sergeant and Jacko.


That’s Pearson’s political bias and pandering to the current Howard govt, as charged by Mick Dodson in the Fairfax Press 2 weeks ago: Favoured leaders slated as government 'pets' - National - smh.com.au


I personally find the slur above an outrageous smear, and a disgusting wild exageration. Only weeks ago I was doing legal checking to reinforce Sam Watson’s interview on the Palm Island Death in Custody scandal for broadcast here on Ch31 Sydney, the same Sam Watson who features on the same page as Warren’s sleaze piece: 


Symbol clash at Palm cop's trial | The Nation | The Australian


In 1989 I completed my honours thesis: A legal foundation for Aboriginal Land Rights at ANU Law School virtually predicting the Mabo no.2 High Court decision in favour of native title rights, that launched Noel Pearson’s public profile. And I've kept faith with that 15 years since.


So the evil ultra violence inflicted on the Aboriginal people, which has precious little to do with the environment movement and who have been horrified by these historic wrongs, have taken their course with Pearson seeking revenge against the white people who love(d) him and love the Aboriginal culture possibly the most from our side of a wide gulf.


Isn’t it always the way, that you hurt the people who love you most simply because they are closest on the political spectrum. That’s another form of victim mentality, and shame. Stop taking your pain out on the greens Noel. It's not right. And it's not fair.



Postscript #1 Monday 11th June 2007


What appears to be happening with Noel Pearson from the recent  Australian Story Cry Me a River is that he is getting fat and middle aged, tired and jaundiced. He says as much that he 'is sick of this struggle' and wants a normal life. But the hard, profound truth from one who knows, is in a vocation regarding huge historical issues like social and land justice for Indigenous the world over, and environmental destruction by Big Capital the struggle is NEVER over.


It's not a timeline based on one person's life cycle or what life stage they have arrived at.


Later on yesterday after our angry repudiation of Pearson's generic smear we read this below at the heart of Pearson's media and industry allies at The Australian same edition page 40 9-10 June 2007 - shale oil extremism, as an indicator how these guys just don't get climate change imperatives AT ALL let alone sustainable development:


With oil on the skids, US hails shale  

The diagram shows to quote


"In the high desert near Rifle, Colorado, rods 600m underground to heat the shale to 370 degrees Celsius, the tempereature at which Teflon melts. The heat will be applied for the next four years to convert the hydrocarbons ....into high quality crude ....


"The old technique required them to dig the equivalent of the Panama Canal every month", said former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, whose tenure from 1975 to 1987 included the last attempt to extract oil from shale. "This new approach is a much more sane process, but that's all relative," Lamm says. "They're doing this in an immensely fragile area where wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail in the 1840's are still visible. It doesn't excite me because I think they're about to indelibly change our state."




And this shale is not some boutique aspiration, as the lead in says:


"Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezeula, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combined." 


and later


"If we waited a few million years, all this stuff would turn to oil" Rand's Bartis says. "Some people don't want to wait that long."


You can't get a better warning about extreme capitalism to the custodians of a 40,000 year old Aboriginal culture than that on Cape York. And there is shale oil in Qld too The Stuart shale oil project: will it be Beattie's Ningaloo or his ... , but if not shale oil someother extreme developer agenda. And if Pearson thinks he can ride that kind of bucking monster into a tame pony he is living an illusion. Big Capital is not like that and not interested a jot in respecting the human and environmental values of the Cape. It's all about big money and power. And vulnerability of middle aged men.


Postscript #2

Part A 

The Australian declined to publish my submission last night on their comments page to the story above:

This is what we wrote this morning, as well as copying the above to the Pearson's Cape York Insitute by email, and notice the challenge to the Murdoch press to publish this below or be exposed for censorship:

at 10.35 am 11th June 2005


It was John Howard and his minister Robert Hill who refused to support the pro economic development Cape York Land Use Agreement with greens and pastoralists as promised at both the 1996 and 1998 election.

Howard's regime destroyed that living treaty causing Pearson's cries of desperation now. And now he seems to be doing Howard's work as a wedge and a catspaw, as pointed out by Mick Dodson in the Fairfax press, as described on my blog.

Prove it isn't so, if you can, Noel Pearson in the lead up to this federal election. I am copying this to my blog to see if The Australian has the guts to publish it.

Unlike the censoring of my submission of last night ... tsk tsk, democracy of the blog, but only as far as you can control it?



Part B

Sent: Monday, June 11, 2007 9:34 AM
Subject: response to your director in The Australian, Australian Story, etc etc 
Dear CYI/Noel Pearson
It seems to me your director has been courting a serious response from the greenies down south, right down south here as far as Sydney, though I come from even further south on Bass Strait, Warrnambool originally, which means meeting of two rivers.
So here it is and its not that pretty. I met Gumbra Jacko, Peter Costello and Greg Sergeant and Rick Farley over the years and including 1994 Starke campaign here in Sydney the land of cancer causing Smog.
But even so I think your director is using unworthy wild exageration, and kidding himself he can ride a bucking monster like Big Capital into a docile pony as regards the best interests of the Cape and its people. That's my advice and my challenge person to person, white greenie to Black traditional owners.
A first version of this repudiation of the philosophical smear has been copied to federal MPs. Since then I've realised the Shale Oil indicator of the Big Capital madness via The Australian, and the nuke test in Iron Range National Park (which is quite significant given the nuke weapons deterrent on Australian soil agenda of this Howard Govt are moving toward, vis a vis USA Missile Defence relations with China, North Korea Japan Taiwan South Korea, Singapore and others etc).
Bucking monster indeed.
Respectfully yours,
Tom McLoughlin, principal ecology action australian http://cpppcltrust.com/ecologyactionsydney
editor www.sydneyalternativemedia.com
editor background
tel 0410 558838
Postscript #3
[Joint press release of 2003 by ACF and TWS, from our archive received by email June 4 2003 from The Wilderness Society]

Senate Inquiry called for as $40 million Cape York Natural Heritage Trust Plan Flounders

Conservation groups have today called for a Senate Inquiry into the failure of the Federal Government to deliver on the Prime Ministers pre-election promise to protect Cape York Peninsula.

To support their call, conservation groups released a review of the $40 million Cape York Natural Heritage Trust Plan, which shows that of $12 million promised for expanding and enhancing protected areas, only 1 % has been allocated.

"In 1996, the Prime Minister promised to ensure that Cape York Peninsula's 'high conservation areas are fully protected'. Yet seven years later, only $140 000 of the committed $12 million has been spent on this," said Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director, Don Henry.

"Given the outstanding conservation values of Cape York Peninsula, it is deeply concerning that so little Commonwealth funding has been put into promises to protect high value conservation areas."

"A Senate Inquiry should ask what has happened to the Prime Minister's promise and where's the money?" said Mr Henry.

The Wilderness Society's National Campaign Director, Alec Marr said, "The review does show that $7 million of a promised $8 million has been spent on indigenous people's land management, which we strongly support."

Mr. Marr said "The groups are calling for a reformed Cape York Natural Heritage Trust Plan, focussing on:
- A strong voluntary property acquisition strategy for areas of high conservation value;
- Substantially increased funds for National Park and protected areas management;
- Recurrent funding for Indigenous Land and Sea Management Centres and other Indigenous conservation initiatives; and
- A Peninsula-wide conservation plan, including a weeds and feral animal strategy;
- Support for the development of ecologically sustainable industries."

"The recent Commonwealth Biodiversity Assessment highlighted the Cape as a critical sanctuary for Australian mammals and birds and the importance of conservation action. Yet the Prime Minister's $12 million promise is missing in inaction", concluded Mr Marr.

To view a full copy of the submission, visit 

For further information contact:
Don Henry, Executive Director Australian Conservation Foundation: 0418 501 395
Alec Marr, National Campaign Director, the Wilderness Society: 0417 229670
Postscript #3
More evidence of where this Howard Govt are coming from here?
Did Australia demand reversal on natives? Ottawa pulled support after Howard's visit

Posted by editor at 9:32 PM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 16 June 2007 10:25 AM NZT
Sunday political talkies - Is God angy, she seems to be
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: indigenous


Author’s general introductory note (skip this if you know this regular weekly column):


This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies  in Big Politics and Big Media.


Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208


“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”


Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.



For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.



Media backgrounder:

Picture: Tim Blair right wing blogger has realised like Wendy Deng wife of Rupert Murdoch, that Kevin Rudd's language skills are a profound change for the better when we have many big issues with China on climate change and security this next decade. Inset is the wonderful David Rowe in today's Sydney SunHerald echo of this below - great outdoor chess set at local community centre.


 -         state ALP battle cardinal Pell bringing ALP female politicians to the fore

- good economic figures airbrush under employment figures but never mentioned

-         Keating riposte to Costello alleged economic mastery on Lateline

-         G8 on climate change preface to APEC in Sept 07

-         But the trump of all was the ferocious and fatal weather storms in NSW with ship stranded, family killed outright in shocker road collapse, following rail shock crash harbinger start of the week. Is God angry – maybe she is.


10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am


Kevin Rudd front, sounding  a little head cold fluey but clear and moderated.


Petrol monitoring.


Kyoto attack by PM footage. China and India massive increase coal generated ghg.


Rudd attacks ‘Pledge and Review’ back to late 90ies. Sounds strong. Carbon target, carbon trading. Canada 20% by 2020. Q. Nuclear as there? KR dodges saying market is the answer.


Never ever silly on nuclear. Leave to market. Sounding strong on clean renewables. Rich array achieve without taking on extra safety and environmental problems.


Joe Hockey as shrek with nice Scottish accent. Keating watched it shows he’s got too much time on his hands?


Panel quality of 2, Michelle Grattan Age Melbourne, Clinton Porteus Courier Mail Murdoch Brisbane, this is the Keating fall out section …


MG kicks off …even Keating says …..


Even under Keating …. In 90ies 3.2% productivity growth – straight out paraphrase of Keating on Lateline. All these road tested lines coming out re world boom IMF, World Bank.


Union threats – KR refers to Hawke Accord examples of 80ies. Fundamental economic reforms. Proud labour history – again responding to PK concerns.


Union knocked off Linda Kirk endorsed by Shoppies official asks MG.


CP – unemployment – ignores question goes to productivity, great silent story. PB brings him back – goes to training.


Max Gillies – via Get Up “claims to be independent” runs YouTube piece link


Footage of Howard change for the better mantra – time for change idea faltering?                     


No restore the balance, work family balance, housing affordability, Iraq, climate, education, new technology.


CP doing the Murdoch press job, Qld full page adverts in central QLD take on Beatie. Disagrees on local govt amalgamations. Voluntary.


MG – donate a home for the PM, by the business community in Melbourne. KR - Shouldn’t use Lodge or Kirribili for fundraising.


MG – Shergold playing political role, public service heads. Restore westminister. Times up.





Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress




7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary  -


Congratulations 7 for streaming this on your website (2 week delay?)



Very interesting and amusing again. Satire of PM but equally cutting of Rudd stuff up IF he were PM.


Mostly entertaining. Female compare in her stride too. Andrew is still the most natural with his chisel/dentist comment.


2 and 9 to follow



Sunday 9

Follow of drug story last week, Abbott embarrassed, but shows limited resourcing at 9 now for Sunday.  Move on to brain injury wonder drug, positive to balance negative.


Ray Martin with Dalai Llama – great work by Sunday, giving a proper respect to a religious leader of 100’s of millions. Standing against Chinese dictators censorship. Australian political 'leaders' won't meet him. What a disgrace. 

Missile Defence story is very good summary (again, by Tim Lester), Beazley conspicuous, Asia reaction very worried. The same old thesis we have been plugging away at for 12 months now on SAM and before that on IMC re Taiwan, North Korea, Japan, Australia promoting an arms race and nuke weapons deterrent on our soil. In short an arms race.




Insiders 2

Conroy on IT future, praises Hawke Keating achievements.


Everyperson segment – missed it.


Panel – Middleton SBS, Marr SMH, Ackerman Murdoch Sydney tabloid Sydney Telegraph.


Paul Kelly Murdoch broadsheet – on economic figures -


Panel talk on Keating stuff.


G8 climate change, Pell in NSW, Milne cracker story hurting PM Howard


Talking pics with Peter Andren MHR independent.


Akerman foreshadows more stories of nasty union behaviour this week.


Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/

Posted by editor at 10:59 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008 11:11 AM EADT
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
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, 9 January 2007
Burrup world heritage quality cultural resource being vandalised again
Mood:  sharp
Topic: indigenous

Senator Rachel Siewert
Australian Greens Senator for WA

Monday 8 January 2007

Destruction of rock art to commence on the Burrup

"This Government and Woodside will go down in the history books as
vandals for allowing the destruction of rock art on the Burrup", said
Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the news that Woodside is commencing initial site works on their Burrup Pluto site today."
"I can not believe that in this day and age our Governments think it is acceptable to destroy ancient rock art to allow development," said
Senator Siewert.

"It is not too late to relocate the development onto already cleared
land next-door to the current site. Surely Woodside can negotiate with its joint venture partners to protect this unique rock art?"

"Woodside have not even made the final decision to commit to the
project, and reportedly will not be making this decision until later in
the year - yet they are still proceeding with initial site works," said
Senator Siewert.

We need to ask why they are rushing to clear the site now - is it simply because in the New Year period they think people won't be paying attention?"

"I simply cannot understand why the Federal Government is not requiring Woodside to co-locate the plant just a couple of hundred metres up the road - thereby enabling the development to proceed and saving the rock art," said Senator Siewert.

"Our failure to protect our unique Indigenous heritage is an
international shame."

Posted by editor at 9:22 AM EADT
Friday, 5 January 2007
Sovereignty Day event by original Australians, January 26th 2007
Mood:  special
Topic: indigenous
[This following is an amalgam of two emails from world renowned street artist Benny Zable with the final version of the artwork. Thanks Benny, we think it's just about perfect: editor]
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 [11.30 PM]
Subject: Sovereignty Day POSTER Jan 26th-27th Tent Embassy

Enclosed is the new [Sovereignty] Day poster authorised by Michael Anderson Aboriginal. The new poster extends an invitation to stay there at the Tent Embassy till Tuesday, February 6th, to prepare actions for the opening of Parliament 2007.
It has been stressed that drugs and alcohol not be brought onto the site and to support and respect the Aboriginal agenda.

Benny Zable

[In a third email received from ever humble expert Zable: 'This final copy was crafted with Isabel Coe [Wiradjuri woman, co founder Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra 30 years ago]. Franklin Scarf did the art work actually. Between a whole lot of us this became the final copy. The credits are to a whole lot of people stumblin around in our isolation to attempt to get it right. My part was speaking with different people listening to criticisms and to eventually come up with this.' Yours Benny Zable]

Posted by editor at 7:35 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007 9:11 AM EADT
Sir Laurence Street really the corruption reformer wanted by many in the Doomadgee wrongful death case, after AWB comments?
Mood:  sad
Topic: indigenous

The editor noted with interest on AM quality ABC news




this morning respected semi retired lawyer Sir Laurence Street of NSW has been appointed by the Queensland government in the terribly tragic case of the death of an Aboriginal man, Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36 in 2004 at Palm Island from horrific internal injuries. There has been huge community backlash since then. The story is also carried here




A little research will show Sir Laurence




was asked in March 2006 what he thought of the highly limited terms of reference (TOR) of the Royal Commission like Cole Inquiry of the now infamous scandal over the Australian Wheat Board bribery of now dead Saddam government in Iraq:


"SIR LAURENCE STREET, FORMER ROYAL COMMISSIONER" There is always a temptation when one is a royal commissioner to think, "Well, look, I'll clean up all of this." And one thing I'll suggest to the Government. I'll do this I'll do that. I'm not going to be specific, but we all can recollect a royal commission that got way, way out beyond its original terms of reference, as the commissioner followed various rabbits down various burrows. That's not what a royal commission is about. A royal commission is a specific - or a commission such as this in the federal arena - is a commission to inquire into a particular topic and report back to executive government.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Sir Lawrence Street is one of Australia's most respected legal minds and he's no stranger to royal commissions himself.

SIR LAURENCE STREET: I don't criticise politicians for one moment. I've done high-profile political inquiries myself. That's the political arena is the political arena. The arena is the fourth estate in which you and your colleagues function, Mr Brissenden is another. But the judicial arena, or the judicial arena such as an inquiry such as this, although it's not an adjudicative function, is something which is apart and has to be ruthlessly protected by the integrity of the commissioner to ensure that he or she doesn't find themselves pushed out beyond what is the proper scope of their terms of reference."


and a moment later in the same interveiw:


"MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Veterans like Sir Laurence Street agree the position for Cole is difficult, but he simply has to play it straight.

SIR LAURENCE STREET: His duty is to carry out the inquiry as it is laid down in the terms of reference. He's not the guardian of all aspects of public interest associated with this topic. He's been given a specific task and his duty is to get on with that task and make his report. I may say a duty that he's discharging with admiral balance and, as one would expect, integrity. He's a judge of enormous stature, of shining integrity and he's doing I think a very praiseworthy job in a difficult political climate."


The full interveiw is here: Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2006/s1604156.htm

Broadcast: 29/03/2006 Cole inquiry lacks powers: Opposition Reporter: Michael Brissenden


Street who it is fair to say is a bastion of the legal establishment in NSW for many decades said that the TOR have to be limited otherwise the AWB inquiry could grow like topsy as per a certain Royal Commission held in Australia in the 1980's.


If memory serves this writer, a junior solicitor here in NSW, thinks Sir Laurence is almost certainly referring to the hugely significant anti corruption Fitzgerald Inquiry in Qld in the 1980's. This is the same Fitzgerald Inquiry that Premier Peter Beatie appears to have obliquely referred to at times as ‘a lawyers picnic’ for becoming very expensive and possibly endless: There is one very serious veiw of history that the Fitz RC was moving from the corrupt Bjelke Peterson government of the National Party to the entrenched corruption in the Qld ALP but never got the chance. Topsy indeed.


Nor is this writer so naive about the legal and moral issues in the tragedy of every single premature Indigenous death. At one time in my life I was effectively a surrogate father figure to a 5 year old Aboriginal lad called Jimari for six months and I worry about his future most days of my life. I have also met a gifted Aboriginal artist friend of my sister called Glen from Palm Island with teeth missing from the frightening violence in that community. On another occassion at an environmental stall held at a peace rally in Belmore Park, Sydney CBD, on Palm Sunday many years ago a drunken Aboriginal young man stole all my Jabiluka stickers and started handing them out: Maybe I should have accepted this situation as paying the rent but when challenged for 'this disrespect to the Gundjehmi elders campaign on Jabiluka' given the stickers were a fundraising project against a uranium mine, he grabbed a stick and started to break it as if to stab me with the pointed end. He wanted my blood. When I took it off him he complained that he was 'homeless' and so it was my fault. But I didn't make him drunk at 11 am in the morning, nor are most Aboriginal People drinkers. Far more in the white community. In 1989 I completed my honours thesis 'A legal foundation for Aboriginal Rights' predicting the famous Mabo High Cout decision 3 years later. Once I got my car window broken while donating books to the Redfern Community centre. The undercover cops watched the whole thing as I negotiated to get my address book back.


Indeed respected lawyer Andrew Boe has been involved in the Doomadgee controversy as here March 2005




and here up to late 2006




and notes the complex social problems at Palm Island leading to violence in too many situations. So what share of responsibility of the policeman Chris Hurley in this death? I don't know. The facts and the coroner's findings are highly relevant of course. It's a matter for professionals and family much closer to the facts of the tragedy. Only this writer lacks confidence in Sir Laurence being quite the corruption fighting reformer others, especially in the Aboriginal community, might be hoping for. On the other hand Sir Street may do well in brokering a quasi legal resolution with the family and community stakeholders. Maybe. Here's hoping.


Postscript #1

Minimalist lawyer Street to shut down Doomadgee case file as predicted?
by Tom McLoughlin solicitor Monday January 15, 2007 at 03:32 PM

As predicted and advised to [Melbourne Indymedia website]  readers perhaps a week ago, this breaking news report on Sydney Daily Telegraph says it all: 'Not open ended', and 'not taking any new evidence'

As I understand it Noel Pearson Aboriginal lawyer of Cape York and national figure wrote in The Australian around 6th January that it was imperative that whoever takes on reviewing this file be able to look at new evidence or new information.

At least as I recall it on the Lavartus Prodeo web blog I read yesterday.

Here we have Street who in one interview on 7.30 Report

1. criticised the famous Fitzgerald corruption inquiry 'for chasing every rabbit down every hole' and

2. commended the cautious narrow rigour (my words) of the Cole AWB as if to bless its limits

also now stating it's going to be a 1 week flash in the pan job after 2 to 3 years of full on controversy over the death in custody riots and national controversy as per Telegraph report below.

Well here is something very interesting I noticed: The heat on the Beattie govt really increased when National President of the ALP prominent Aboriginal man Warren Mundine started hitting the airwaves a few weeks back saying its not good enough after the DPP appeared to cancel out the Coroner.

Warren Mundine is pretty quiet now. But guess what: The big articles that broke the story about the largely but not entirely symbolic and big Githabul native title successful land use agreement with the NSW ALP government over Christmas New Year involved the one and same Warren Mundine. Warren has had a big victory on indigenous rights as "chief executive of NSW Native Title Services, which funded the claim, [and] told the ABC that the deal is a watershed.

"It gives an opportunity for that community to have lands returned. It gives an opportunity for that community to have an economic base as well as a cultural base to operate from" said Mr Mundine"

In The Epoch Times Jan 3-9 2007 quoting AAP.

I'm sure Warren Mundine is more than capable of covering two big items of indigenous controversy at once, but I sure hope he is not trading one State ALP indigenous issue for another State ALP win on Black rights, all in the ALP family so to speak?

Sure is an interesting coincidence. Qld side of the border has not cooperated in the Githabul land use agreement. I wonder what that means?

Street's report looks like a hopeless avenue for the Palm Island Aboriginal community on the basis of this article posted at midday at News Ltd (and notice the spin about Sir Street being an ex WW2 veteran as if this could possibly be relevant. Is this undue vanity?)


Palm Island report 'due soon'

January 15, 2007 12:00

THE man appointed to review Palm Island's controversial death in custody case says he expects to finalise his report in as little as a week.

Sir Laurence Street will arrive in Brisbane from Sydney this afternoon, before flying out to the north Queensland island tomorrow to get a "feel" for where Mulrunji Doomadgee died in November 2004.

The respected former NSW chief justice was appointed earlier this month to review the Director of Public Prosecution's (DPP) decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Mulrunji's death in custody in 2004. Leanne Clare's ruling came despite a coroner finding the officer was responsible for Mulrunji's death.

Sir Laurence said he would take his senior counsel assisting, a barrister and crown law officers with him on a "three or four" hour trip to Palm Island.

The WWII veteran said his visit came after working "virtually full-time" on the matter since receiving the files last Monday.

"It's a matter which should be finished within a matter of a week or so," Sir Laurence said today.

"It's not open-ended. I have the material. It's a question of our team evaluating it."

Sir Laurence will visit the site of Mulrunji's death in the island's watchhouse, which was later burnt down in a riot.

He stressed he would not be collecting any evidence during the trip.

"I won't be receiving any information or interviewing anybody," Sir Laurence said.

"All the information is already in the documents that have been gathered by the coroner and by the DPP.

"I'm going over to enlarge my understanding (of what happened)."

Sir Laurence said that included rejecting any attempt by Mulrunji's family to provide him with further information.

"It's not within my province to do so. In any event, there's no purpose in doing so because there's exhausted material already gathered by the coroner and by the DPP," he said.

Sir Laurence will return to Brisbane on Wednesday before flying back to Sydney to continue reviewing the case.

Postscript #2

Death is the final silence, Sir Laurence
by Tom McLoughlin Wednesday January 17, 2007 at 02:06 AM

Even Laurence Street had the self knowledge to hesitate on camera on late SBS tv news tonight at the death of the critical 24 year old witness who swung from a noose and died in the last 24 hours.

The witness that likely had more to say but Sir Street said was irrelevant to his review because they were not taking any 'new evidence'.

Perhaps the dead man agreed that silence was indeed his future fate, and there indeed is nothing more silent than DEATH.

The report below is at


timed at midday Tues 16th January 07

with Sir Street referring to his 'coincidental' visit. Trouble it seems related not coincidental.

My belief is Street's visit and the form and shape of his investigation could well have influenced the deceased Bramwell that he wasn't going to be listened to yet again. He was 'nothing' yet again, to a legal system, and broader Australian society, and he'd had enough of it and us, and in particular the 'Street Review'.

Sir  Street made it very clear he was not even going to talk to Bramwell as per reports in the last day or two in the general press, and echoed here on Melb IMC

Doomadgee co-arrested found hanged

By Dave Donaghy

January 16, 2007 12:00
Article from: AAP

A WITNESS in the Mulrunji Doomadgee death-in-custody case has been found hanged on Palm Island.

The discovery coincided with the arrival on Palm Island of New South Wales chief justice Sir Laurence Street', who is reviewing the Queensland Director of Public Prosecution's (DPP) decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Mulrunji's death in custody in November 2004.

When he arrived on the island today Sir Laurence learned that Patrick Bramwell, who was arrested alongside Mulrunji, had committed suicide on the north Queensland island overnight.

"There's maybe even more point in me coming here on a day like this because it's very tragic," Sir Laurence said.

Mr 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.

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.

Sir Laurence visited the site of Mulrunji's death and the local council during his brief visit to the island, 60km northeast of Townsville.

He expects to finish his report soon and the State Government has promised to release the results when parliament resumes next month.

However, Acting Premier Anna Bligh has said if Sir Laurence made a finding against Snr Sgt Hurley, the report would not be tabled in the parliament until after the matter went to court "to ensure that nothing in the report jeopardised the success or otherwise of the prosecution".

Ms Bligh said Mr Bramwell's death was a "tragic incident" but declined to comment further for cultural reasons.

"The death of a young person is always a tragedy," she said.

[You can say that again, and tragic for the administration of justice in the whole state of Qld.]

Posted by editor at 9:09 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007 2:35 PM EADT

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