Kid killed in busy school playground: Nobody charged
Police should have been able to take someone into custody same day
THE father of a teenager killed in a schoolyard brawl almost six months ago says it is "atrocious" no one has been charged. Steve Drummond, father of 15-year-old Jai Morcom, who died at Mullumbimby High School in northern NSW on August 29, slammed police yesterday after they issued a media release appealing for more witnesses. "It's pretty atrocious that this hasn't been sorted out by now," Mr Drummond told the Courier-Mail newspaper. "There were that many witnesses to it and there's no doubt there were a few (specific) kids involved."
Jai died after a playground fight over a lunch table. Students later staged a mass walkout and protest amid claims of a bullying problem at the school.
Mr Drummond has raised suggestions of "standover tactics" at Mullumbimby High, and NSW education officials have ordered a major review into student welfare at the school.
Tweed/Byron police crime manager Inspector Greg Carey appealed for patience, saying "every effort" was being made to solve the case. "We have conducted interviews with literally dozens of students, teachers and community members," he said. "We have been in constant contact with Jai's parents and the school community. "Investigators have also set up an email address which has been circulated throughout the school community, in the hope that additional information could be provided by that method."
Jai died from his injuries in the Gold Coast Hospital. Insp Carey said NSW police were still waiting the full autopsy report from Queensland authorities. "As Jai died in Queensland, the (NSW police) report will be submitted initially to the Queensland Coroner," Insp Carey said.
Corporate regulator takes 9 years to make its case -- and still bogged down
It's either gross incompetence or a witchhunt with no substance behind it. Or maybe it's both. But as long as you are churning through heaps of taxpayer money, why worry? Very unjust treatment of the accused, though, who is at this stage entitled to the presumption of innocence. Fortunately, the judge recognizes that. Are government lawyers the worst of all? If they were any good, would they be working for the government?
THE Australian Securities and Investments Commission has again come under sustained fire in the Victorian Supreme Court where a judge hearing the regulator's case against the former AWB boss, Andrew Lindberg, has accused ASIC's lawyers of ignoring his rulings.
One day after Justice Ross Robson permanently halted one of two civil penalty cases against Mr Lindberg, the judge reiterated that, in his view, ASIC's claim against Mr Lindberg was limited only to breaches of Mr Lindberg's fiduciary duties that occurred before Saddam Hussein was toppled from power in March 2003, and not after that date.
ASIC strongly disagrees with this interpretation as it believes Mr Lindberg's duties to AWB, including the duty to inform the board and to investigate allegations of corrupt behaviour by the wheat exporter, continued unbroken from early 2000, when he was appointed chief executive, to February 2006, when he quit.
ASIC's board is expected to meet next week to decide if the regulator will appeal against Justice Robson's decision of Wednesday, when he stopped ASIC from proceeding with its second civil penalty case.
Justice Robson also said that considering all the interruptions to ASIC's original case against Mr Lindberg, including the regulator launching its second case in November and now seeking appeals against his decisions, he was concerned about prejudice to Mr Lindberg. ''I think therefore that the primary consideration here must be that Mr Lindberg gets a fair trial,'' Justice Robson said. ''I think we are really reaching the outer limits of when a person gets a fair trial when it is some nine years after the events. I think we should do as much as possible to get the trial over and done with.''
ASIC's original case, filed in December 2007 and amended several times, alleges Mr Lindberg knew about $US225 million of kickbacks that the wheat exporter secretly paid to Saddam's regime in breach of United Nations sanctions, and that by failing to stop those payments he brought the company into disrepute.
In the second case, ASIC alleged Mr Lindberg misled the AWB board and took steps to prevent his fellow directors learning about either the kickbacks or other abnormal transactions.
ASIC's counsel, Norman O'Bryan, SC, told the judge yesterday that if ASIC appeals his decision to halt the second case, then the ''cut-off'' date imposed by Justice Robson will certainly be raised in the Court of Appeal.
Amid some tense exchanges, Justice Robson said he had limited ASIC's allegations of breaches to events before March 2003 because that was the way he had interpreted ASIC's amended statement of claim.
Tony Abbott does well with a female audience
It was a chance for Tony Abbott to put to rest the perception, in the words of his host, that "you don't like women". But the Christmas lunch in Brisbane of the Women's Network Australia became so much more for Mr Abbott and 80 corporate cougars, who ganged up on him over his penchant for Speedos, laughed at his spruiking of their wares and then joined hands as newfound disciples of self-helper Amanda Gore, author of The Gospel of Joy.
It wasn't an orchestrated picture opportunity; Mr Abbott had planned for a catch-up lunch with former MP and recently exhumed candidate Teresa Gambaro, who was already booked to attend the event in a room overlooking Allan Border Oval. And like the great Australian cricket captain, Mr Abbott played defensively when needed -- promising to supply a picture for the group's website, but only in "my boardies" -- and moving on to the front foot about his problematic image among women.
Asked how he could be perceived in such a way when he lived with four women, Mr Abbott hit a proverbial six over the crowd of businesswomen. "Well, I know who the boss is and it's not me," he said, to cheers.
He then paid tribute to his supportive and independent wife and three daughters, before tackling the question of his alleged problem with women. "I think it is (a myth)," he said. "But in the end, I suppose, in politics you just got, to some extent, just roll with the punches. "Sometimes they are low blows, sometimes, they are not and you try and be yourself and you hope people will give you a fair go."
It should have been a segue to Ms Gore -- who near-eulogises on how to deal with competitors in the workplace -- but first, Mr Abbott was called to compere the product promotions of several WNA members.
Ms Gore talked of surrounding yourself with the right people and being a leader who is a "spirit igniter, and not a spirit foofer" of colleagues.
Illegal Immigration Crisis in Australia
By John Stone
ANYONE SURVEYING the Australian immigration policy scene today must be seized with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Not only has the Student Visa racket emerged into the plain light of day, with its chains of corruption from beginning to end, but the threat to our borders from the illegals has re-erupted.
The Student Visa program, as noted earlier, stands out for its corrupt practices in an immigration program now grown notorious for corruption across its entirety (including not least its Refugee and Special Humanitarian Visa components). So long as we blindly continue to fail to acknowledge that Australian citizenship (the real goal of almost all involved, both genuine students and bogus “students” alike) is a highly valuable property right—for which people from countries such as China and India will pay whatever bribes are necessary—it will remain so.
As to the re-emergence of the people-smugglers and their human cargoes, put aside, first, the lying (regrettably, there is no longer any other word for it) assertions by the Rudd government that the recent upsurge of illegals arriving on our shores owes its origins solely to “push” factors—in particular, the conflict in Afghanistan and the defeat of the Tamil Tiger insurgents in Sri Lanka. No more people are squatting in UNHCR camps around the world today than there were when the Howard government shut down the earlier people-smugglers’ trade in boat people.
At any given time, people-smugglers and their criminal clients have a choice of destinations—continental Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States (usually via Mexico), Canada, Australia and so on. The choice they make will be a function of the relative expense (that is, the fee charged by the smuggler), the relative value to the client if successful (very high in the case of Australia), and the relative likelihood of such success. Under the Howard regime, that last factor had become so small, and subject to such relative hardship even if successful, that the choice was strongly weighted in favour of attempting to go somewhere other than Australia.
The tearing down by the Rudd government of the barriers erected by its predecessor has changed all that, and no amount of lying denials of that fact will alter it.
At the time of writing, a new element has entered the equation. Having boasted of abolishing “the Pacific solution”, the Rudd government has now been forced to go, cap (plus millions of dollars) in hand to the government of Indonesia. On bended knees, it has been begging that country to “warehouse” two boatloads of illegals—most of them, seemingly, from Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the criminals involved have resorted—with the eager co-operation of the Australian media—to one threat after another: first, to blow up, or set fire to, one of the boats in question; second, to embark on several hunger strikes—rapidly abandoned when that tactic failed to work; third, refusal to disembark from either vessel without various “guarantees”; and so on.
Not only is this whole bizarre incident leading to Australia being seen as a laughing stock around the world—with both the illegals and the Indonesian authorities playing our government for suckers—but also, even if eventually resolved (temporarily) in our favour, there can be no lasting assurance in such arrangements. To quote again from that above-mentioned Quadrant article three years ago, “we would be wise to avoid becoming too reliant on Indonesia’s goodwill and co-operation. As the record has consistently shown, those attitudes can change overnight.”
Meanwhile, the so-called processing facilities at Christmas Island have become rapidly over-crowded. (I say “so-called” because there is no way that people who arrive there without identity papers can be properly processed as to their criminal—or even terrorist—records, or general character. Nor, as a matter of fact, can they be properly checked for various transmissible diseases, given the facilities available on the island.) The government has been frantically trying to minimise this problem, principally by “clearing” the criminals involved and granting them Permanent Residence visas. So frantic has this process been that even the illegals—one or more of whom is known to have deliberately set fire to the boat off Darwin on which, as a result, five people perished—were also recently granted permanent residence and released into the West Australian community.
If the government’s performance on all this has been abysmal, the Opposition’s has been little better. Not until a former Minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, spoke to the Australian (and then gave a succession of excellent, hard-hitting interviews to both radio and television), had we heard so much as a cheep out of the Opposition. Its formal spokeswoman on immigration matters, Sharman Stone (no relation, I am glad to say) had effectively said nothing. The best that the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, could do was call for an inquiry! Why he would need an inquiry into these matters when he has within his own party room two of the most knowledgeable people in Australia—Philip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews, both of whom he has small-mindedly relegated to his backbench—beggars imagination.
In a larger sense, of course, we do need an inquiry, and a thoroughgoing one at that, into the whole corrupt immigration scene—one leading to an immediate major reform and reshaping of the Department of Immigration. The Howard government failed to take up that suggestion, and the present government will certainly not do so.
The bottom line is this. It is the first duty of any government to protect its citizens, including their protection against invasion by undesirables and incompatibles who seek to penetrate the nation’s borders by entering into criminal conspiracies with people-smugglers. The Rudd government’s palpable failure in this respect means that we have lost control of our borders. Just as the British government under Tony Blair (whom Kevin Rudd more and more closely resembles) lost control of immigration into Britain—with results that are now producing a sharp rise in the fortunes of Britain’s only truly fascist political party, the British National Party—so we are losing control of immigration into Australia. Though the consequences may be literally incalculable, one thing is certain: Australia will be a lesser country—and progressively so—as a consequence.