Friday, December 01, 2006

Don't call us Poms, say Poms

The English sometimes refer to Australians as "Colonials", which is clearly derogatory, but now some of them object to being called "Poms", which has no obvious independent meaning

It is the Don Bradman of whinges. A group of thin-skinned English expats wants the word Pom banned, claiming it is a racial slur on a par with the most appalling insults. British People Against Racial Discrimination has gone to the Advertising Standards Board in an attempt to derail the latest Tooheys campaign which mocks the warm-beer-drinking Brits. The ads claim Tooheys' supercold brand is "cold enough to scare a Pom".

The Aussie brewer will fight the complaint, saying BPARDs gripe is as wide of the mark as Steve Harmison's first ball in the Ashes series. "The Oxford Dictionary classes Pom as being derogatory just like wog, wop, dink, dago, coon and abo, it's every bit as bad as the term nigger," BPARD spokesman David Thomason said yesterday.

BPARD, which has a committee of 14 and branches in Perth and Melbourne, does not want Pom banned from general usage but Mr Thomason believes there is an agenda in the media to take the insult to new heights. BPARD has some well-heeled backing from the mother country in the form of the notoriously stuffy English and Wales Cricket Board. ECB chief executive David Collier said in a letter dated October 10: "The ECB continues with our position that we would prefer the terminology not be used".

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission disagrees however, saying it is only the descriptive language used in tandem with Pom that carries offence. "The prospect of the use of the word 'Pom' itself inciting hatred against a group appears more remote than the use of words used to describe other racial groups," commission spokesman Paul Oliver said.

The stink is unlikely to deter Australian cricket fans from roasting their English rivals when the second Test begins in Adelaide tomorrow. But even that battle is skewed against the Poms, according to Mr Thomason. "These songs that the Aussie supporters sing talk about we can't get near you because of your smell, your body odour, your bad breath, your buck teeth, your whingeing, have you got some soap," he said. "The worst you hear from the Barmy Army is that Aussies are sheep shaggers and you all live in a penal colony."


Protecting your right to mock

By Philip Ruddock, Federal Attorney-General

Australians have always had an irreverent streak. Our cartoonists ensure sacred cows don't stay sacred for very long and comedians are merciless on those in public life. An integral part of their armoury is parody and satire - or, if you prefer, "taking the micky'' out of someone.

However, our copyright laws have until now done very little to protect the way people use others works or images to parody and satirise others in the name of entertainment. I have a bill currently before the Senate which will ensure Australia's fine tradition of satire is safe. There will be a parody and satire exception for what the law calls "fair dealing''. In circumstances that are fair, it means that groups like The Fanatics will be able to parody popular songs in response to the Barmy Army. It will mean they can encourage cricketers representing Australia by making a fair parody musical works such The Monkees' Daydream Believer and adding some clever lyrics. I understand the Village People's Go West and Robbie Williams's Rock DJ get the same treatment.

There are other elements to the Copyright bill, that are aimed at ensuring consumers are not treated like copyright pirates and copyright pirates are not treated like consumers. They include:

- Making it legal for people to record TV or radio programs in order to play them at a more convenient time.

- Legalising 'format shifting' of material such as music, newspapers, books - meaning people can put CD's they own onto their iPods or MP3 players;

- Giving schools, universities, libraries more flexibility to use copyright material for non-commercial purposes; and

- Helping people with disabilities access copyright material.

The new provisions in the Bill for consumers and for parody and satire will commence after Royal Assent in mid-December. For parody that will be too late for the second Test, which starts in Adelaide tomorrow, but in time for the Boxing Day test in Melbourne. That means the first place that The Fanatics and other supporters will be able to act without impunity is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They should be in full voice by the Sydney Test, which starts on January 2. I imagine a few people will be armed with their songbook too.

Given the way the first Test went, the series may be over by then. Either way patriotic Australians will be free to mock the British team without the threat of lawsuits. The Government has ensured the use of copyright material for the purposes of parody or satire will be protected. To retain the law in its current form just wouldn't be cricket.



Three current reports about them below

Police immunity again

Police get kid-glove treatment for their misdeeds

Two policemen have not been prosecuted for shooting a dog after tying it to a tree. An inquiry recommended the men be summonsed under the Animal Welfare Act. But police last night said the officers had been subjected only to "internal disciplinary action".

The first officer fired at the family pet from close range but missed. A shot from the second officer passed through the dog's neck - depriving it of the ability to bark - and cut the rope. The animal ran home to its master with blood pumping out of the entry and exit bullet wounds.

Ombudsman Carolyn Richards, who investigates complaints against Territory Government departments, said she was "appalled". Dog-owning Police Minister Chris Burns said he was also appalled.

The incident happened after police in an unnamed "remote locality" went to a house to arrest a man's son on an outstanding warrant. A struggle started and the family dog bit one of the officers. The police decided the dog was a "vicious animal" and should be put down. The owners said the officers did not fully explain that they were going to kill the animal and they were "coerced" into letting them take it away. The dog was taken into the bush, tied to a tree and shot. After the first shot, the pet was "jumping all over the place". The police found out that the dog had returned home, but decided against seizing it again.

The Joint Review Committee - made up of police and staff from the Ombudsman's office - investigated the case and found the officers had made "misleading" statements and been inhumane. It recommended internal disciplinary action and prosecution.


Police try to gag Brimble witness

South Australian Police Commissioner Mal Hyde has tried to block a key witness from making claims of corruption within his police force when he testifies at the inquest into the death of Dianne Brimble. The witness, codenamed Mr White, is expected to raise allegations that one of the eight "persons of interest" in the 42-year-old Brisbane woman's death was a drug dealer who was protected by police officers and an outlaw motorcycle gang. Mr White, who is scheduled to give evidence in Sydney today under tight security, is also expected to claim that seven of the men of interest were involved in drug dealing in Adelaide nightclubs, some of which were "often" frequented by police.

Lawyers from the South Australian Crown Solicitor's Office wrote to their NSW counterparts after the corruption allegations became public on Monday and said the claims were "irrelevant" to the inquiry being conducted by Deputy NSW Coroner Jacqueline Milledge. They sought an undertaking the allegations wouldn't be raised in court. "We have no reason to believe that the allegations have any foundation in fact," the letter said. "The Commissioner of Police in South Australia is most concerned that the court proceedings may be used as a forum to spread baseless allegations or allegations based on speculation. "Could you please confirm that any witness statement that makes allegations of police corruption will not be placed on the court record and that (counsel assisting the coroner Ron Hoenig) will not lead such an allegation."

Mr Hoenig objected strongly to Mr Hyde's request to suppress Mr White's evidence, describing it as "impertinent" to the court. "I take exception to the suggestion that your honour has no jurisdiction in dealing with a particular matter when there are methods in place to do so," Mr Hoenig told the court.

Brimble died on the P&O cruise ship Pacific Sky in September 2002 from a toxic dose of the drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, also know as fantasy. The mother of three was photographed having sex with one of the men shortly before she died. It has been alleged her drink may have been spiked with fantasy.

Mr Hoenig foreshadowed parts of Mr White's evidence in court on Monday and said the witness would give evidence "that Matthew Slade had the protection of the Jokers motorcycle club and police officers". Mr Hoenig said Mr White would allege that Mr Slade, Peter Pantic, Mark Wilhelm, Dragan Losic, Luigi Vitale, Letterio Silvestri and Charlie Kambouris were involved in drug dealing in Adelaide nightclubs. Mr White had allegedly seen the eighth man, Ryan Kuchel, "self indulging" on ecstasy in an Adelaide nightclub.

Lawyers for Mr Pantic also tried to delay Mr White's evidence and asked for a suppression order to be put on parts of it. Barrister Peter Hayes said Mr Pantic faced being "pilloried before the press", based on untested evidence that might be "double or triple hearsay".

Mr Hyde said yesterday he wanted to hear the details of any claims of police corruption and determine if they needed to be investigated. South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson told The Australian the Crown Solicitor's Office and Mr Hyde were not trying to prevent Mr White from giving evidence. He said that if the allegations were relevant, there was a "proper forum in which to make those allegations".


Police union boss to face court

Queensland Police Union president Gary Wilkinson will face contempt charges arising from comments he made in March about the Palm Island inquiry's findings. Mr Wilkinson labelled Queensland's Deputy Coroner Christine Clement's findings into a death in custody as a "witch-hunt".

Ms Clements handed down her report into the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji on September 27, finding police officer Sen-Sgt Chris Hurley was responsible for his fatal injuries.

At a press conference, Mr Wilkinson launched a scathing attack on the findings. Two weeks later Mr Wilkinson apologised, emphasising he had not meant to question the impartiality or personal integrity of Ms Clements or to reflect upon the Magistrate's Court. However, earlier this month the Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine initiated contempt charges charges against Mr Wilkinson. In a brief Supreme Court application yesterday, Solicitor General Walter Sofronoff QC, appearing for the Attorney-General, and solicitor Michael Quinn, for Mr Wilkinson, agreed on a consent order for an exchange of documents and outlines of their cases. Justice George Fryberg set the hearing down for two days on March 19 and 20 next year.


No comments: