Doctor and activist


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Category: Justice

Djokovic goes to Gaol or exile while Hillsong goes Scott-Free.

16 January 2022


Today Novax Djokovic is in Court trying to stop Immigration Minister Alex Hawke deporting him before the Australian Open Tennis starts tomorrow. For those who don’t follow tennis and have been sleeping under a rock, he is the number one seed and if he wins, he will be the first player to win 21 Grand Slam tournaments and as such, the Greatest tennis player Of All Time (GOAT).


Last time he went to Court he won, because the issue was whether the government or Djokovic had done the wrong thing in the visa application process. He won with costs and the government was heavily criticised by the Court (not to mention the rest of the world).


This time is different. Minister Alex Hawke, a young ambitious religious Conservative right-wing numbers man has excluded him in that he is a danger to the population from an infectious point of view, and because he is known to be anti-vaxx and will give publicity to that view. The Court decision is totally stacked the Government’s way because it only has to decide whether the Minister has the power to do this, and the legislation is written so that he would have this power and the meddlesome courts could not interfere. So what is likely to happen is that the government’s position will be upheld, Djokovic will be deported and Australia’s appalling immigration policies will be seen for the arbitrary farce that they are- beyond the rule of law.


The fact that ATAGI (Aust. Technical Advisory Group on Immigration) said that previous infection within the last 6 months could be a reason for vaccination exemption, that Djokovic had had such an infection and that a blind medical panel said that he was safe to come has been ignored. (‘Blind’ in the sense that the panel did not know the name of the person whose file they were reviewing). The point is that he is very unlikely to infect anyone, not to mention the fact that the virus has already escaped and there are few preventive measures in place. Anyone in Australia can fly into Melbourne and go to the tennis with no tests of anything and case numbers of omicron set new records every day. Djokovic has not trumpeted his anti-vaxx views, though one could argue that these are already well known. There is a whole industry telling us what famous people do and think, and that was before the anti-vaxx lobby.


Djokovic is not as popular as the ever-smooth Federer or the rougher battler Nadal, but his public image seems that he is a nice guy, if occasionally misunderstood and pretty ruthless in his quest for the top. Darker mumblings about his unsportsmanlike use of injury rules and mind games have surfaced from a few columnists recently, and one might wonder why. But this is all irrelevant. The government is excluding him ostensibly because he is a risk of infection (absolutely minimal), or that he will stir anti-vaxx sentiment (where the controversy has already done more for the anti-vax cause than his winning of the Australian Open would ever have done).


The real reason is that this government wants to look tough on border control and quarantine, having made a complete mess of the COVID epidemic, with outbreaks due to ‘careless’ border policy, (were there Hillsong groups on the Ruby Princess?), lack of purchase of vaccine, poor management of aged care facilities, and now a ‘let ‘er rip’ policy supposedly to help the economy. Today’s Sun Herald front page announces that ‘71% want Djokovic sent home’. So some hairy-chested populism is the order of the day.


On page 6 of the same Sun Herald (see below) NSW Police decided not to fine Hillsong church after videos were seen of people singing and dancing at a Hunter Valley religious camp. NSW State Health Minister Brad Hazzard is quoted as saying that the singing and dancing ban does not apply to religious groups, though it does apply to recreation facilities, nightclubs etc. Presumably a religious recreation camp is OK, but a non-religious one is a big problem. The fact that the same article notes NSW had 48,768 new cases, 2,576 in hospital, 193 in ICU and 20 deaths yesterday presumably is also irrelevant.


Is it relevant that Scott Morrison and Alex Hawke are members of Hillsong and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard is in the same Liberal party?

Craig Kelly has called Djokovic a ‘political prisoner’, and for once I agree with him.

If the Court agrees to deport Djokovic because the Minister said so and they cannot appeal it, it will show the world the arbitrariness of Australia’s immigration laws and the government may win a populist victory at the cost of further damage to our international reputation.

As a tennis follower who saw the US Open final, I am of the opinion that Medvedev will beat Djokovic in the tennis if they play, but it looks as though political stupidity has game, set and match.

Hillsong let off as NSW posts 48,768 new cases and 20 deaths
Sally Rawsthorne, Sun Herald, 16 January 2022
NSW has recorded 48,768 new COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths on the third day positive rapid antigen tests are included in the daily infection numbers.Of the new cases, 21,748 were self-reported from at-home tests and 27,020 were from PCR testing.There are 2576 people in hospital with the virus, of whom 193 are in intensive care units. Eleven men and nine women have died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.Yesterday, police confirmed they had decided not to issue a fine to Hillsong church for a camp in the Hunter Valley, after videos of attendees singing and dancing without masks sparked public outrage.‘‘NSW Police have attended an event in the Newcastle area and spoken with organisers. Following discussions with organisers and after consultation with NSW Health, no infringement will be issued,’’ said police in a statement.‘‘Event organisers are aware of their obligations under the Public Health Orders, and NSW Police will continue to ensure ongoing compliance.’’NSW’s Public Health Order prohibits singing and dancing at music festivals, hospitality venues, nightclubs, entertainment facilities and major recreation facilities.Health Minister Brad Hazzard said while the order does not apply to religious services, it does apply to major recreation facilities, which is defined as a ‘‘building or place used for large-scale sporting or recreation activities that are attended by large numbers of people, whether regularly or periodically’’.‘‘This event is clearly in breach of both the spirit and intent of the order, which is in place to help keep the community safe,’’ he said.Hillsong said the camp differed from music festivals and the organisation was committed to a COVID-safe plan.‘‘Our camps involve primarily outdoor recreational activities including sports and games. We follow strict COVID procedures and adhere to government guidelines,’’ it said.‘‘Outdoor Christian services are held during the camp but these are only a small part of the program.’’It said the video of attendees singing and dancing represented ‘‘only a small part of each service’’.Yesterday, the state government announced its rent regulation would be extended by another two months to March 2022. ‘‘Small business is the engine room of our economy and we need to make sure we support impacted businesses through this latest Omicron wave,’’ NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said. ‘‘With staff shortages and reduced foot traffic, many businesses are struggling at the moment but the ability to negotiate rent will give them a buffer so they can keep the lights on now and recover more quickly.’’Business tenants can access rent relief if they have an annual turnover of less than $5 million. Rent relief has the same eligibility criteria as the discontinued JobSaver and Micro-business Grant programs.It comes as almost 1000 NSW Health workers have resigned or been sacked after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, placing further pressure on the hospital system that has seen coronavirus patient admissions almost triple within a fortnight. As hospitals and general practices are overwhelmed with surging cases and almost 6000 healthcare workers are isolated across NSW due to COVID-19 exposure, the state’s health department on Friday confirmed 995 of its 170,000-strong workforce had resigned or been stood down after refusing the vaccine.

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Kerry O’Brien Speaks for Julian Assange

24 December 2021

Kerry O’Brien, who was for a long time host of ABC’s 7.30 Report took the opportunity at the Walkley Awards on 29 November to call for Julian Assange to be released. Hear what he said on the link below.

It seems to me that as an Australia, not living in the USA, Julian Assange was in no way subject to their laws, but it seems the US wants to charge him under their laws, then demand that countries with extradition treaties simply hand him over, effectively making their laws world laws.  This might be OK for most murders and frauds etc, but for political crimes, it is a different matter.

Another significant fact that is deliberately overlooked is that Assange was not the first to release all the Wikileaks information.  He had spent a lot of time with major media journalists and they had their front pages ready to roll.  He was advised that if he released the information, he could be solely liable and they would merely be republishing material that was already public.  So he delayed his release. The major media called him and demanded that he release the material, but he did not. They could not stop their front pages, so put it out before he did.  They may accuse him of bad faith by not taking all the risk himself, but technically in a legal sense, these huge outlets did it before he did.  And the US government, rather than target the major media who actually did it before he did, have given them impunity and are targeting Assange only.  The lack of support from the major media is perhaps because they could be targeted; presumably that is the US government’s message, ‘See what happens to him- you would not like it to happen to you’.

Our government has no commitment to freedom of the press, and simply manipulates the media as much as it can, that is no news to anyone. Assange must be freed.  We can only hope that Labor gets the courage to do something if they are elected.  Don’t hold your breath.

www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-28/kerry-obrien-press-freedom-walkley-awards-julian-assange/11748198

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31% of JobKeeper recipients checked were ‘not eligible’

3 October 2021

As we all wonder at the level of corporate rather than individual fraud, a Federal review of JobKeeper found that 31% of recipients who triggered compliance checks were ‘not eligible at all’.  This was after a survey of 13% of the recipient companies.

The ATO seems reluctant to say who they were or how much. 31% of the recipients may not mean 31% of the $89 billion given out. 

Only $194 million has been repaid (which is around 0.2%) of the total payout.

The Government response contrasts starkly when compared to the amount of attention that went to Robodebt, where welfare recipients received relatively small amounts of money.  The ATO is very concerned about the confidentiality of Tax records, but this is not tax records, it is money given out.

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Corruption at Many Levels- the ripping off of Meat workers

1 September 2021

An article in the SMH on 31/8/21 said that there was a lot of bribery and corruption in the recruitment of Chinese to work in Australian abattoirs.

Abattoir work is physically hard and unpleasant, so rather than pay Australians more to do it, workers are recruited from overseas, like fruit pickers.  The government, perhaps because of political donations is happy to make special 457 visas for this, rather than insist that the jobs go to Australian residents. This is the case for both Liberal and Labor. (Marx said that people were more loyal to their class than to their country, but we won’t mention this now).

So the recruitment process has been corrupted as some foreign people will pay a lot to get into Australia and after working here for 2 years on totally exploited wages they hope to get a residency visa.  Recruitment agents may take whatever money they can get, and whatever other little sweeteners.  Fake CVs were used to claim that Chinese had good English skills and had worked in abattoirs, which is presumably unlikely as Chinese abattoir workers would not have the money to pay the recruiters.  This farce came to light naturally from a whistle-blower who was in on the deal rather than any regulatory agency, the Home Affairs Dept or the Meat Industry National Training Council (MINTRAC).  The Union was not mentioned in the story. 

Migration agents are a poorly controlled profession at the best of times, with many dodgy operators exploiting desperate people.

Australia should spread its wealth by paying people to do jobs like abattoirs and fruit picking, and if these products are more expensive in consequence, we need encouragement to Buy Australian produce. Of course ‘free trade’ treaties favour cheap imports, but if we are going to have the social harmony that comes from a reasonably equitable society, we have to spread the nation’s wealth.  Cheap meat should not just lead to a conga line of corruption and exploitation as a by-product.

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Afghanistan- a Callous debacle

26 August 2021

A brief history of Afghanistan. 

It was a monarchy where the British and Russians had striven for influence for centuries. 

The British had invaded in 1838 and installed King Shah Shujah, who was assassinated in 1842.

The second Anglo Afghan war was 1878-80 and gave Britain control of Afghan foreign affairs.

In 1919 Emir Amanullah Khan declared independence from British influence and tried to introduce social reforms, in particular education. He flees after civil unrest in 1926

King Muhammad Shar came to power in 1933 and tacitly supported the Germans in WW2 as the Afghans did not acknowledge the 1893 Durand Line, the British-initiated border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he wanted to unify the Pashtun nation, which straddled the border.  His government came under pressure from an increasingly educated younger population. He voluntarily created a Constitutional monarchy in 1964, but this did not lead to significant reform and his government lost prestige due to its mismanagement of a drought in 1969-72. There was a coup by another Royal, Prince Muhammad Daud in 1973. 

The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan led by British-Indian-educated Nur Muhammad Taraki staged a coup in April 1978 and formed a secular leftist reformist government.  It was relatively pro-Russia and anti-religious.  It was more brutal than had been anticipated, and had internal infighting and resistance from conservatives and Muslims.  Taraki unsuccessfully appealed to Russia for help.

The Cold War

It might be noted that US President and Russian Chief Secretary Leonid Brezhnev met in June 1979 to discuss SALT 2 (the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty). 

(I read somewhere near that time that Afghanistan was mentioned and Carter, being somewhat naïve, said words to the effect that Afghanistan was in the Russian sphere of influence.  Carter’s horrified minders corrected him after the meeting, but Brezhnev took this to mean that the US would not interfere if Russia took action there.  I have been unable to confirm this story despite several efforts since, which either means that I imagined it or that it has been expunged from any written history that is available online).

The US began to help the mujahedeen in July 1979 to overthrow the Taraki government.  Taraki was overthrown and murdered by his protégé, Hafizuzullah Amin in September 1979.  The Russians invaded in December 1979.   The Russians were in some economic trouble, and it has been said that their government wanted a military victory that would distract attention and shore up the state.

President Carter refused to sign the SALT11 treaty and boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. The US also increased training and weapons to the Mujahideen. President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan insisted that all this aid go through him and hugely favoured a more radical Islamist agenda, also getting aid from Saudi Arabia to set up large numbers of Islamic schools.  The Mujahideen guerrillas overthrew the Russians.  The USSR was falling apart when the Russians, now under Mikhail Gorbachev, departed in February 1989.

The Russian Legacy

The Najibullah government, installed by the Russians lasted until 1992, when here was a civil war with the Northern Alliance fighting the Mujadiheen, which was not a united force, but a number of warlords, each with their own territory.

The Taliban

Taliban means ‘student of Islam’.  The Taliban emerged in 1994 from the Pashtun nation who straddled the Afghan-Pakistan ‘border’, considerably helped by the money from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  They were seen as less corrupt than the Mujahideen. 

In 1996 the Taliban got control of Kabul and controlled two thirds of the country. 

In 1998 the US launched air strikes to get the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden.

In 2001 Ahmad Shah Masood, the leader of the Northern Alliance was assassinated.

9/11 Leads to the US Invasion

The US was shocked by the 9/11 (11th of September 2001) attack by Al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers in New York and invaded Afghaistan, ostensibly to get Osama Bin Laden. Some have said that the US hawks wanted to invade and 9/11 merely gave them the excuse.  They won militarily in 3 months, but were always an occupying force.

Interestingly in 2007 the UN stated that opium production reached record levels.

The Allied occupation was by many different national forces, and each country had different rules for the area it controlled.  It seems that some countries simply paid the Taliban not to make any trouble.  The Australians went in because the US did and cited our national interest.  The only way that this was our national interest was in pleasing the Americans.

Exit Wounds 2013

The book ‘Exit Wounds’ by John Cantwell, the Australian commander from both Iraq and Afghanistan was written in 2013. He had been on the short list to be the supreme head of the Australian Defence Force, but withdrew to treat the PTSD that he had hidden but had been suffering.  He stated that the war could never be won and it was his opinion that every Australian life lost there was wasted.  The pointlessness of the exercise was what caused his PTSD, and probably led to the feral actions of some of the forces, as is being uncovered. We might note that in a story on the ABC (26/8/21) a witness known as Captain Louise who was going to give evidence to the Brereton Inquiry into Australian War Crimes had her house bombed.  Her former husband is an SAS operator who told her of unauthorised killing and is under investigation after 4 Corners broadcast footage of him killing an unarmed Afghan in 2012 (Killing Field 16/3/20).  Clearly the hearts and minds of Afghans were not won. 

Corruption was rife in the Afghan government, and some of the 2009 UN election observers were killed in a bomb blast in their Kabul hotel. The UN could not insist on an independent investigation and the head of the UN team, who was not killed in the blast, was hurried out of the country. The re-elected government did the inquiry.  So much for democracy!

Australian Embassy Closed May 2021

The Australian Embassy was closed on 21 May 2021, 3 days before the last Australian troops left. Clearly our own intelligence was that things would not go well.  It made the investigations of war crimes more difficult and put the interpreters who had helped the Australian troops in much more danger.  An Australian digger who has tried to get his Afghan interpreter and his family since 2013 has been blocked and been unsuccessful, despite seeing Minister Dutton’s senior adviser 3 years ago.

Taliban Victory

The Taliban won a victory in a few weeks as government forces that we had been training simply declined to fight. Now there is a cordon around the airport and the Taliban are stopping people getting through to the Kabul airport, where the allies are trying to do an airlift of Afghan civilians.  The UN has been most desultory in not looking after locally recruited Afghan UN staff, who are at risk and do not even have foreign passports to allow them to leave.

The Europeans have asked the US to extend the deadline for evacuations, which is 31 August- 4 days away. The US has declined to extend the deadline.  Presumably this is because they are unable to even if they wanted to.  The Taliban surround the airport, and could easily shoot down any planes they chose or bombard the whole crowded area with huge loss of life.  American hubris would be very clearly shown.

The Debacle

It is a debacle- even when the Russians left the government that they established lasted a couple of years.  What is wrong with US intelligence- did they have no idea that the whole country would collapse?  It is hard to know why the Americans went into Afghanistan and why they stayed there.  One wonders if the arms industry is happy to have a war somewhere and really do not care very much how much damage it does or who wins.  One must ask what Australia is doing there and why we are so uncritical of the Americans.  Sadly, Australia does not have a Peace Movement worthy of the name and seem to follow the US blindly. But when the Australian military commander says we cannot win and we continue there for another 8 years, there is something absurd.

The fact that the Labor opposition said nothing is also a worry- does  our government work for us or the US?

The Fate of our Interpreters

Many people will be left behind outside the Taliban-controlled Kabul airport perimeter, or unable even to get near the city.  The Taliban have been searching them out and killing not only those who helped the foreigners, but also their families.  The idea that they have reformed seems very unlikely; the schools that taught them were radical Saudi Islam.  It is a horrible story that has not yet ended. 

www.smh.com.au/national/he-could-have-done-something-why-diggers-feel-let-down-by-scott-morrison-20210820-p58kks.html

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Christian Porter Rape Allegations

25 June 2021

The much publicised rape allegations against Christian Porter have been released.

People can judge their veracity for themselves. Click on the link in The Saturday Paper:

www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/post/max-opray/2021/06/25/porter-dossier-released

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Ransomware Now Done by Privateers

4 July 2021

The rise of ransomware has been a major problem for business. The government and law enforcement have traditionally cared little about scams, hackings or identity thefts.  I have tried to report these, giving phone numbers of the scammers call back numbers after having proved that the scam number answers in order to demonstrate that they were the Tax Office or whatever.  No interest at all. Eventually a government Scamwatch website has been developed.  (There is a nice irony in the title as it watches rather than acts).

But scamming has progressed to Ransomware, where a computer system is hacked and huge sum of money demanded if the business is not to be either rendered  permanently dysfunctioned or have it all its information shared to a competitor, and then still not function.  The ransoms are usually paid, though no one actually likes to admit this.  The fact that JBS Meat processing stopped in the whole world, and the whole East Coast of the USA could not buy petrol has stimulated law enforcement to take an interest.

Presumably, hacking and viruses are a continuation of the goodies and baddies in the programming world, with both working on the same computers and programs. The fact that it can be used as part of ongoing war against another country now seems relevant, with smaller countries seeking to take down larger ones. It seems that some hackers are nation-based, so they are termed privateers, after the pirates who actually worked for a country, like Francis Drake, who famously stole Spanish galleon gold (stolen from the South Americans) for England and was knighted for it.

As a safe computer system has to be developed, marketing and implemented, there is always a time lag which must surely help the hackers.  Modest small businesses cannot be at the cutting edge of software systems, so will always be vulnerable- the only hope is that law enforcement gets serious about screening for miscreants and tracks them down. If they can screen every Facebook post, and act quickly there may be some hope, but I am not sure what difference encryption makes to all this.

This story is in a lot of papers this weekend in slightly different forms. Here is the SMH one:

www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/pirates-of-the-cyber-seas-how-ransomware-gangs-have-become-security-s-biggest-threat-20210624-p5840c.html

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Porter’s Defamation Case Against the ABC

17 March 2021

Many were surprised when Attorney-General Christian Porter sued the ABC, using the very defamation law that he has criticised as favouring the plaintiff.

What will happen? Will it go ahead?  Will he win?  And what will be the effect?

I do not pretend to be an expert on defamation law, but I did run a live radio programme that called tobacco executives mass murderers most weeks for 14 years and I gave some thought to avoiding being sued.  The advice was basically that if you spoke about a class of people, it was OK, but if an individual was identifiable you were in much more danger.

Defamation was defined merely as likely to lower the opinion of someone in the opinion of their peers, so was relatively easy to prove.

The defences were that it was true, or that it was in the public interest, or it was ‘fair comment’ on a known situation.  (There was also ‘qualified privilege’ if the allegation was made to a closed body entrusted with maintaining standards, such as a complaint to a Medical regulatory body).

But after the lawyers had given this rather bleak advice, they said that main question was whether it would actually be in the interests of tobacco companies to sue a little-known doctor speaking on a little-heard community radio station.  They could send him broke, but the issue would get a lot of publicity and how many people they killed would compete with how callous they were to stuff up the life of a little truth-teller.  So I was to be careful, but not fearful.

Porter has raised the stakes in that if the ABC wants to run the truth defence, it has to prove it, which is hard with Katherine Thornton dead and the Police saying that without even a sworn testimony there was no hope of proving the case.  If the story is not true, then arguably it is not in the public interest to discuss it, and since the ABC raised the issue, it is hardly fair comment on an existing discussion. Most people did not know which individual it referred to, but some did.

I am unsure to what extent comment will be shut down by the fact that it in sub judice, but I think if it is not a jury trial, judges are supposedly uninfluenced by the media, and you can comment  on civil but not criminal matters.  There is no doubt that everyone in the pub or tea room will have an opinion.  If the ABC settles without running the case, Porter will claim a big victory.  If the ABC fights and loses, he will also claim a big victory, but the damage done to him in the process is likely to be terminal.  Most people are likely to continue to believe the story and he is likely to look like a privileged pratt using a bad law.  This is not good when both he and his party have to face the voters.

Also, if the ABC loses, it will have a large budget blow, a loss of prestige and probably a budget cut from a vengeful government.  But the process may have damaged the government enough to turn the next election and Labor may then restore the funding. 

If you look at the tide of history, this issue is one that’s time has come. The coverage and discussion of the issue will make this a watershed moment where high legal costs are merely an investment in hastening a major social reform, though we cannot reasonably expect the ABC’s lawyers to see it that way.

Crikey looks at the strength of Porter’s team and case.

www.crikey.com.au/2021/03/16/christia-porter-defamation-trial-of-the-century/?fbclid=IwAR1_dcbIg1jexXl3TUkooK73YSy9yEIlKjTJ6CvMuE68BSqqZtKENo-TbvU

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Ex-Solicitor-General Calls for Inquiry into Porter’s Rape Allegation

14 March 2021

The former Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson has made the case as to why there needs to be an investigation into Katherine Thornton’s rape allegation against Attorney-General, Christian Porter.

The mechanism for this would be that Morrison should ask the Solicitor-General for advice as to the situation.  This Morrison has so far declined to do. 

Interestingly, Justin Gleeson was highly respected Solicitor-General who resigned in 2016 after a very public argument with the then Attorney-General George Brandis, when Brandis wanted all referrals to the Solicitor-General to go through his office.  Gleeson felt that this was restricting his freedom to give advice and effectively politicising his office.  Prior to Brandis’ restriction he had made a statement about the legality of refugee legislation. (Guardian 24/10/16)  The Prime Minister not asking the Solicitor-General now and the Solicitor-General not making a statement does sound like the same issue.  Brandis, like Porter, was also accused of making poor appointments (of political party hacks) to judicial bodies. 

In terms of the reasons for having an inquiry into the rape allegation, this opinion is as good as it gets.  At least as an ex-Solicitor-General, Gleeson can speak publicly.

www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-09/christian-porter-historical-rape-allegation-gleeson/13229880

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Time to Look at the Legal System

12 March 2021

As a schoolkid, I was a good debater and the vocational guidance advice was that I should be a barrister.  My father was dead against this idea. His dictum was, ‘Don’t go to court, you will get law but you will not get justice’.

He was a surgeon and to prove his point he took me to a court case where he was an expert witness. A company that manufactured concrete pipes was having an industrial dispute. The workers had stopped work and the union delegate was standing on a pipe giving an impassioned speech about how terrible the company was and that they should all go out on strike immediately.  As he spoke a runaway truck crashed through the fence, knocked him off his pipe and broke his leg. It seemed obvious that was injured but he was not at work.  The Union claimed that he was at work.  The employer argued that he was not at work, and threw in that he was not injured either, which was why an expert witness was needed. 

My father’s point was the process had nothing to do with the truth of the matter- it was just a talkfest that would give me the sh-its after a while.  He won in the sense that I did not do law.

40 years later I went to a Family Law barrister as a support person for a friend getting divorced.  The barrister, unprompted, said that he had thought about being a doctor, and regretted having done law as, ‘there is right and wrong on both sides, it all becomes adversarial, it is random which side you are on, and it is all about money.’

When I lived in New Zealand there was a high profile trial where a man had allegedly shot his brother in law. The brother in law was to inherit the family farm and he was jealous. The evidence looked very strong. His barrister managed to create a shadow of doubt in one of the juror’s minds and he walked free.  It then came out that the man had been released charged with damaging farms, killing stock and burning buildings where he felt that he had been slighted, But the jury had not been allowed to know this.  The defence barrister, Greg King, a family man with two children suicided a few months later.  (Radio NZ 17/10/13). In his obituary people said he was a good kind man who did jobs that had to be done but no one else wanted.

I had a barrister acquaintance who said he had had a bad week in that he had been vehemently abused by a stranger as he tried to buy a pizza.   He had been recognised by his critic as the defence barrister for a paedophile. He felt that this was completely unreasonable as he was ‘just doing his job’.

Our legal system is adversarial. Effectively there is a debate, with one side saying that the person is guilty and the other that they are not.  It is about winning the argument; the truth is often an early casualty. The people running the system are as affected as those in the dock, albeit differently.  The adversarial model in our legal system spills over into our parliamentary party system.  It is more about winning than the truth. 

Napoleon reformed the French legal system by making it inquisitorial rather than adversarial. The object of all parties to the court proceedings is to get to the truth, then the judge deals with that. Lawyers trained in our system think this is a terrible idea, but it seems very reasonable to me.

Now, because the complainant in the alleged rape by Christian Porter is dead there supposedly cannot be an inquest. No adversary, no action.  No truth either.

Minter Ellison is a big end of town law firm which advised Christian Porter.  Now its chief executive, Annette Kimmitt is being forced to resign because she questioned the firm’s support for him.  Is giving him advice supporting him?  Obviously she is not alone in thinking so.

Is there any chance of Australia getting a cost-effective, affordable legal system that gets to the truth, or is it too long after Waterloo?

SMH article today

MinterEllison boss exits after Attorney-General all-staff email

MinterEllison’s board and its chief Annette Kimmitt have ‘‘mutually agreed’’ she will leave the law firm after she sent an all-staff email critical of a senior partner for providing advice to Attorney-General Christian Porter about a 1988 rape allegation.

In an email to staff this week, MinterEllison chairman David O’Brien said the board had come to an agreement with Ms Kimmitt that she would depart the firm.

Managing partner Virginia Briggs, who heads the firm’s infrastructure, construction and property division, will serve as acting chief executive while the board considers a permanent replacement.

Ms Kimmitt has faced pressure since she sent an all-staff email last week that was critical of veteran partner Peter Bartlett for not following ‘‘consultation or approval processes’’ before he provided advice to Mr Porter. The Attorney-General has denied the allegation.

She apologised in the email to staff who may be experiencing pain over ‘‘the nature of this matter’’ and said that she too had been ‘‘triggered’’.

The email divided the firm and implicitly questioned whether the firm was right to represent Mr Porter.

Mr Bartlett, who also provides advice to the Herald, wasn’t aware of the email until it landed in the inboxes of the more than 2000 staff and partners it was sent to, some of the firm’s lawyers have said.

Tammy Mills, Chris Vedelago

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