Sunday, January 03, 2010

Coverup for crooked Queensland cops: No review after innocent man served four years for robbery

Queensland is the only State that has had to put a chief of police in jail

THE State Government has abandoned a review into the wrongful conviction and jailing of a north Queensland man for armed robbery. Terry Irving served more than half of an eight-year sentence for a hold-up at a Cairns bank in 1993. Then 39, the concreter protested his innocence, claiming a case of mistaken identity and a suspect investigation. The High Court quashed the conviction in 1997, saying it had "grave misgivings about the circumstances of this case", and cited concerns about the police evidence. Documents obtained by Mr Irving's legal team under Freedom of Information legislation revealed 19 instances where evidence had been falsified or withheld.

Mr Irving was hoping for a full inquiry, apology or compensation, which could have topped $1 million. But any favourable outcome was knocked on the head last week when Attorney-General Cameron Dick reneged on a previous government deal. Former Attorney-General Kerry Shine agreed in September 2007 to an independent review. He said he was impressed by evidence Mr Irving had presented to him at a Community Cabinet meeting in Bowen in June 2007.

In February 2008, Mr Shine appointed retired Supreme Court judge Martin Moynihan to review the case. But Mr Moynihan was then given another government assignment: a review of the criminal justice system. That task was completed by January 2009 and Mr Moynihan was expected to finish the Irving review by July. Then last month Mr Moynihan was appointed to replace Robert Needham as chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission for the next two years.

Mr Dick told Mr Irving's legal aid lawyer, Michael O'Keeffe, last week the Government had decided to abandon the judicial review. Mr Dick rejected a plea for an ex gratia payment and said Mr Irving would have to sue the Government if he wanted compensation. Mr Dick claimed that Mr Moynihan was not appointed to review the case and a review was never established. That is in direct contrast to comments made by Mr Shine to The Sunday Mail last year.

"The best way for Mr Irving to test evidence and call witnesses is for him to pursue the civil proceedings against the state that he started 10 years ago," Mr Dick said.

Mr O'Keeffe slammed the decision. "The appointment of a judicial review was a most serious matter and was taken by Kerry Shine only after the closest personal scrutiny of the actual evidence in Irving's case by Mr Shine himself. It was not done lightly at all," he said. "The abandonment of that review by Mr Dick without reasons and in such a cavalier, almost throwaway, manner must be deeply disturbing for most right-minded Queenslanders."

Mr Irving said he would still seek restitution for the almost five years he spent in prison after being wrongly convicted.


School policies on disruptive students 'not working'

The Leftist horror of physical punishment is anything but kind

A MOTHER whose nine-year-old son missed 53 days of school on suspension last year is appealing for Education Queensland to improve its policies on disruptive students. Brock Duchnicz will start year 5 at a new school this year unable to spell simple words like at, in or on.

In two years he has missed 63 days – almost 13 weeks – of school for offences such as swearing, class disruption and pushing chairs over. His mother Sarndra said EQ's policy of blocking her son from the classroom was not working. Ms Duchnicz said teachers were not equipped to deal with children like Brock and called on the Government to introduce specialised behaviour management training for all teachers.

"I feel as though these kids are just pushed to the back of the classroom in the too hard basket," she said. "There are so many more children coming up the line like this and if they (teachers) are not equipped they need more understanding and time put into them."

Ms Duchnicz said the more Brock was suspended from Eagleby State School, the more he misbehaved to get another day off. "He thinks if he's naughty he gets to go home. The little light bulb goes on 'if I'm naughty I get to go home'," said Ms Duchnicz. Brock was recently diagnosed with ADHD but Ms Duchnicz stopped his Ritalin medication because it had no effect. She plans to have him reassessed.

EQ's assistant director-general of education (student services) Patrea Walton said the department fully supported a principal's decision to take disciplinary action. "It is not in any school's interests to keep badly behaved students in the classroom disrupting the learning of others," Ms Walton said.


Workplace laws may backfire on mothers

PROVISIONS for two-year parental leave in new "family-friendly" workplace laws could work against career mums, feminist academics and business groups have warned. A new right for parents to request unpaid leave of two years, and for parents of young children to request flexible work arrangements, are "major legal changes that may lead to major social change", University of Sydney professor of employment relations Marian Baird said.

She said research showed men generally did not take unpaid parental leave, so women were more likely to request their 12-month maternity leave be extended by up to a year. But Professor Baird suspects the provision contained in the National Employment Standards - which came into force on Friday - will increase the silent discrimination against women who interrupt their careers to have children, even though it is illegal. "There is evidence that employers restructure after 12 months, making it harder for women to return to their role. Imagine what will happen after two years," she said.

In July, the Fair Work Ombudsman was given the power to investigate discrimination for the first time and expressed concern at the large number of women losing their jobs for taking maternity leave. Ombudsman Nick Wilson said his office had intervened repeatedly in cases where women's jobs were advertised or small employers refused to grant 12 months' maternity leave.

But NSW Business Chamber chief executive Stephen Cartwright said keeping a job open for two years would be difficult for small companies. The Government should fund a 12-month paid parental leave scheme instead of increasing employers' burdens, he said. "I understand paternity and maternity leave are a societal issue that needs to be supported. But the problem at the moment is it is only being supported by employers. I'm being realistic here. How do you keep a job open to anyone if at the end of 12 months they might say, 'thanks, but I'm not coming back'?"

Australian women take nine months of maternity leave on average and three-quarters return to part-time roles, Professor Baird said.

Among the 10 new employment standards, which cover all workers, is the right for new parents to request flexible working hours, patterns or location. Professor Baird said this would help women resume quality part-time careers after the birth of a child. "It sends a very strong signal about what the Federal Government expects."

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said it was a "crucial breakthrough" that allowed parents to negotiate job-sharing and change start and finishing times so they can pick up children from childcare, or work from home. Employers have to seriously consider a request and respond in writing. "A simple refusal is not sufficient," she said.

Mr Cartwright said employers were "confused and nervous" about flexibility requests. The chamber is advising companies they "don't have to agree to something that will put you out of business".

"Employers don't need to overreact," Professor Baird said. Britain introduced a similar law several years ago "and the sky hasn't fallen in".

Kate Sykes, founder of - a recruitment website for parents returning to the workforce and wanting flexible hours - said Australian law was only catching up with society. She said the long-term skills shortage and an ageing workforce meant the increased provisions and flexibility would create "no downside for employers. We need to change the way we work."


QANTAS again

Huge queues at Brisbane Aiport as QANTAS computers crash. You would think it was a budget carrier from the way it is run. There seem to be no backup systems for when things go wrong. Will it be another PanAm? Seems like it

QANTAS flights have been impacted by a global crash of the airline's check-in system. Queues at the Brisbane Airport departures area this morning snaked right through to Jetstar as frustrated travellers were repeatedly told of the computer problems.

Issues with the baggage system compounded the delays but passengers were reassured their flights would not leave without them. The 7.55am flight to Melbourne eventually departed more than 40 minutes later and other flights were held up for as long as an hour.

Qantas apologised to passengers for the inconvenience, on one of the busiest flying days of the year. An airline spokesman confirmed the global crash of the Amadeus check-in system. The problem last arose on November 16, 2009, and took about six hours to rectify as check-in staff were forced to process passengers manually.


No comments: