Law reform AG asked to hold Royal Commission

The fairness and quality/integrity of the legal/justice system in South Australia remains questionable following the Henry Keogh case. The State of SA has compensated Keogh $2.5m for his wrongful murder conviction and 19 innocent years in jail. However, forensic and other legal errors around the Keogh case may have been duplicated in 400 other major SA trials over the past 50 years. CLA has  – again,  we also asked in 2016 – asked SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman to call a Royal Commission to clear the air: she personally and the Liberal State Government have committed to law reform as part of their platform in winning government.

Dutton devalues sex register by false, overblown claims

Minister Peter Dutton is devaluing a most important and needed public debate, apparently for political purposes, about preventing child sex abuse. “The way he has gone about what amounts to a sham consultation is a very clear indication that he and the government are much more concerned about the upcoming federal election than bringing in better and effective protection for children than exists now,” CLA CEO Bill Rowlings says. “From the outset of this media silly season thought bubble, Minister Dutton has made outrageous claims, quoted inappropriate sources and combined figures for categories of offences in a way that would see him charged with fraud if he were to do something similar in a commercial prospectus.” There is no evidence to support Mr Dutton’s claims that a sex register would work, he said.

We need people to be more revolting!

 

Darwinites gathered recently in a commemorative rally to recall the events of a century ago, when the tropical township was starting to earn its reputation as one of the revolutionary hotspots of Australia. CLA’s NY-semi-centurion, Rob Wesley-Smith, was moved to motivate the crown to further action, even as he recalled some of the key rallies, strikes, marches and dog-burning escapades of earlier years.

 

Suppressed! Your right to know    

A noted person was apparently convicted of historic sex crimes in Victoria in December 2018 – but Australians can only find out about the conviction by reading overseas media outlets. In Australia, news of all details of the case is ’suppressed’ by the judge. That is, no-one anywhere in Australia is permitted to report what international outlets say was a unanimous finding by a jury that a person was guilty. The person is to be sentenced in February, but is currently on bail despite being convicted of offences against children, which usually involves residential restrictions. Court suppression orders in Australia, like defamation laws, need a thorough overhaul.

Electing to study how good/bad law is made

One problem with law-and-order politicians is that their efforts inevitably lead to more prisons, more prisoners and more taxes paid by the very people who voted for them. It’s a bit like a two-card trick: vote for me and I’ll take more money from you. But laws are derived from all sorts of community inputs – as well as glib pollticians – and a new academic team across universities is studying how we get both good laws and bad laws.

Dutton & Home Affairs conduct sham, pre-ordained ‘consultation’

Minister Peter Dutton is conducting a sham ‘consultation’ after which he will determine “arrangements that govern the protection and management of identity information”. In other words, a man on record 16 years ago as demanding wholesale sharing of personal information across police, security and all government bodies is about to decide whether we get a national ‘Australia Card’ ID system or similar open-slather access to your private information. CLA’s submission says he’s the wrong man, it’s the wrong department, and any inquiry into personal ID rules should be run with equal numbers of rights, liberties and IT gurus as part of a balanced review panel.

October 2018: MPs move to safeguard genes data from insurance companies; ABC management fail, but journos spark another Royal Commission

There’s a welcome push in federal parliament to rein in insurance companies through a moratorium on citizens’ having to disclose the results of genes testing. The move would safeguard rights under insurance and superannuation policies, which affect nearly every Australian. Meanwhile, as ABC management spectacularly implodes, ABC journos and researchers yet again spark a Royal Commission, this time into aged “care”. CLA’s submission to the RC will concentrate on how the elderly gradually have their personal liberties and dignity stripped away, at the age when they and their contribution to Australia should be being honoured and feted.

Also in this issue:

  • Time to revamp a 60-year-old promise for children?
  • Wimpish committee gives coded warning only
  • Travellers and friends latest to be subjected to police state ID checks
  • Australia’s Indigenous people most incarcerated on the planet: prosecutor
  • Commonwealth is anything but a model
  • Gender-bender law will save our dunny heritage
  • PM promises citizenship to millions of refugees (Pakistan)
  • Jailed doppelganger seeks $1.5m – see photos

SINGLE COLUMN (read on screen)

TWO COLUMN (print, read over a break)

Govt models only bad behaviour, unlike in 1912

A parliamentary inquiry into how Big Government screws the little guy and small business in court is struggling to have its voice heard. A Senate committee’s investigation of a proposed law to fix the problem was announced in November 2017, but the committee’s report now been postponed, for the fourth time, to 7 December 2018. That’s a day after the last sitting day of the year for parliament. If an election is called early in 2019, we may never get to see why the government believes it can ignore its legislated responsibility to make its own bodies give people a fair go in legal battles

We need an ideological revolution in criminal justice

For nearly 30 years, since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Australia’s rate of jailing Indigenous people has been going totally in the wrong direction, says ACT Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold. The option of ever-increasing sentences hasn’t worked so, he says, it’s time we totally switched our thinking towards solutions that work in other countries rather than continuing failed policies that not only have not worked, but have been demonstrated for decades to not work to solve an ongoing problem.

Evils of mandatory sentencing on display

Zak Grieve withdrew from a murder plot before the event, refusing to go through with it. But that didn’t save him from two legal evils, mandatory sentencing and the ‘joint criminal enterprise’ doctrine. Under the latter, he was guilty because he knew of the plot in advance, and didn’t stop it. Under mandatory sentencing, Zak – the 19-year-old who wasn’t there, who had no previous criminal record – received a longer sentence in prison than the actual killer! Now a group of activists, including CLA’s Felicity Gerry QC, have lodged a petition for mercy in the Northern Territory to try to overcome legal inflexibility in pursuit of justice and a fairer go.