Friday, August 13, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has two toons on notable events in the current election campaign. Latham rather takes his fancy.

Those evil cameras again

Photography is under official attack worldwide and the attack now looks like being ramped up in Victoria. No-one could object to the banning of peeping Tom cameras but that reference is just camouflage. People can be and have been prosecuted for that under existing laws. The laws proposed seem very wide in their scope and clearly infringe people's right to know about things that might be dangerous to them -- such as police misbehaviour. The "inappropriate recording of individuals in public places" provision would be a Godsend to thug cops. In many jurisdictions they already claim that all filming of police work is inappropriate

Peeping tom cameras would be officially outlawed in toilets and change rooms, and filming street brawls for entertainment would be made a criminal offence, under proposed tougher surveillance laws.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has also called for the appointment of an independent watchdog to regulate the use of CCTV cameras and other surveillance devices in public places.

In its inquiry into surveillance in public places, the commission found privacy had been eroded by the proliferation of surveillance devices, including airport screening that can see through clothing, and laws had failed to keep pace with technological advancement.

The commission has recommended a suite of new laws under the Surveillance Devices Act to ban the inappropriate recording of individuals in public places. This would include outlawing surveillance in toilets and change rooms, and prohibiting filming violence for entertainment or to intimidate, for example filming someone attending an abortion clinic or drug rehabilitation.

The commission also wants to introduce provisions for civil lawsuits for individuals who have been victims of "serious invasions of privacy" through either misuse of private information or intrusion. "Although appropriate guidance is a cornerstone of our recommendations, guidance alone cannot protect people from some practices that seriously affect their privacy," the commission's report, tabled in state parliament today, says.


Photographers draw a line in the sand over picture permits

Photographs of life on Australia's beaches made Max Dupain famous, but spontaneous images in public spaces are becoming increasingly difficult to capture, the photographer's son says. Rex Dupain, also a renowned Sydney photographer, said he has several times been approached by lifeguards or police at Bondi Beach when taking pictures, and in one instance had his camera temporarily confiscated.

Fears about paedophilia and terrorism are largely to blame, he said. "If you're an artist and you want to photograph images on beaches, it's impossible. "The freedom is certainly not there; it's very restrictive."

But photographers are also worried that more councils, state government bodies and trusts are demanding permits and fees for commercial and artistic photography, leading to a situation where anyone with a camera can be approached with suspicion.

The commercial landscape photographer Ken Duncan said whether it was at the beach at Cairns or at the Opera House, photographers were constantly being asked for permits or fees.

"Photography used to be considered a noble profession; we were watching life," Duncan said. "Now we're treated like predators and paedophiles." Duncan will lead a group of photographers, Arts Freedom Australia, in a protest in Sydney on August 29 to speak out against what they say is an unnecessary intrusion by bureaucracy.

But organisations that manage iconic locations say the regulation is required to manage commercial pressures. Councils such as Waverley, which includes Bondi, require anyone taking pictures for a commercial purpose to obtain a permit and pay a fee of about $255.


Australia's misguided logging import rules

The Australian Labor Party's new crackdown on illegal logging imports won't cut illegal logging in developing countries, but the policy could send the prices of toilet paper and other consumer goods soaring, Institute of Public Affairs trade expert Tim Wilson said.

Australia's Labor-led government announced the crackdown Tuesday, less than a week after Wilson and the IPA released a report on how labor unions, environmental groups and industry collude to stop imports. Australian consumers suffer the consequences.

"Green groups want less forestry in the developing world," Wilson said. "Industry wants green protectionism to cut the volume of competitive imports. Unions want green protectionism to stop imports to ensure they can keep workers in high-paying jobs. But it will all come at a cost to the consumer."

The cost of ordinary goods could jump 42 per cent because of such green protectionism, he said.

Wilson noted that a Centre for International Economics report commissioned by the government found that "only 0.34 per cent of timber products incorporated illegally logged timber, and regulations to check for illegal timber imports would have no environmental benefit."

You can get the high points from IPA report "Green Excuses: Collusion to Promote Protectionism?" in two short videos here.

The above is an email received from Danny Glover [address withheld]

Why have Australian authorites kept setting a dangerous criminal free?

FOR some reason authorities keep setting killer, alleged drug dealer and would be hit man Graham Potter free. The "Head and Fingers" killer, as he became known after murdering teenager Kim Barry in 1980, is on the run again - granted bail by a Melbourne magistrate on charges of conspiracy to murder.

Potter failed to appear in court in February and has been the subject of a manhunt ever since. Given his violent history, it is remarkable that Potter was once again allowed to go free.

His infamy began when he murdered 19-year-old Ms Barry, a casual acquaintance, after crossing paths with her on the dance floor of a Wollongong disco while on his bucks night in 1980. That night, February 6, he took Kim back to his flat where he hit her so violently with two blows to the head her skull was crushed, killing her instantly.

He then put her body in a bath and used a hacksaw to cut off her head and fingers to try to hide her identity. Kim's body was found two days later on the side of a mountain at Jamberoo, south of Wollongong. A bag containing her skull and fingers was found three weeks later.

When he was finally arrested after 36 days on the run, Potter said he could explain it all - two drug dealers dressed in dark glasses and suits killed her and made him cut up her body. It took the jury 67 minutes to disbelieve his fantastic tale and find him guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison, but only served 14 years, despite escaping from Bathurst jail in 1990.

After his release the former coal miner lived on the NSW South Coast and in 2002 moved to Tasmania with his wife Sheree Jones, his fiance at the time of the murder and who had married Potter while he was in prison.

Police allege that while in Tasmania he became deeply involved in criminal activity, particularly the drug trade. In 2008, Operation Inca set up by federal police arrested Potter over his alleged part in the importation of $440 million worth of cocaine and ecstasy - one of the largest in Australian history. He was extradited to Victoria but for some reason was granted bail.

Freed by the courts, Potter soon got himself involved in the Melbourne underworld and was again in trouble with the law, this time as a gun for hire. Victoria Police allege Potter and two other men were involved in a plot to kill two men, one an associate of Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto. One of the murders was allegedly to have taken place at the wedding of Gatto's son.

In May last year, despite his criminal history and police opposing his release, Potter was again granted bail. Not surprisingly, he failed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on February 1 to face conspiracy to murder charges and has been on the run ever since. He was last seen in Woombye, in southern Queensland, on January 30.

Police would not reveal much about their hunt for Potter except that he was not to be approached and he sometimes used the alias Josh Lawson.

Retired detective Henry Delaforce worked on the Barry case back in 1980. "It was a gruesome murder. Potter had worked as a morgue attendant and was quite familiar with bodies," Mr Delaforce said.

Mr Delaforce said Potter was a pathological liar. "Liars of his calibre end up believing in their own innocence," he said. "He considered himself charming and suave and in some ways he could be, which is how I suppose he could get people's confidence."


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