Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atrocious decision to prosecute Australian soldiers

There is no way that soldiers in the heat of battle can always make wise decisions. And I don't see that they made unwise decisions, anyway. They were under fire from close range and had to shoot back. It's the ignorant bitch who laid the charges who should be disciplined. What would she know about fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan?

The step-father of a Melbourne digger killed in Afghanistan has warned charges laid against elite soldiers over the deaths of five children will cost more Aussie lives.

"My biggest worry is that it will make (soldiers) hesitant about going into combat situations where they have to make a quick judgement but have the added pressure of waiting...which will cost them lives," he said.

He also questioned the decision of Australia's top military prosecutor Brigadier Lyn McDade. "This should have been handled with an inquest first by the army before the decision to lay charges."

The three elite soldiers were involved in a night raid near a village in Oruzgan Province on February 12, 2009 that left five children dead, another two injured and two adults wounded. One suspected insurgent was killed.

One soldier yesterday was charged with manslaughter, and another faces lesser charges including a failure to follow orders and dangerous conduct. The third will be charged when he returns to Australia.

Australia's top military prosecutor, Brigadier Lyn McDade, yesterday confirmed the charges against three former members of No. 1 Commando Regiment.

The unprecedented legal action has sent shockwaves through the military, with sources on army bases saying the decision had left a "bitter feeling through the military". The possible jailing of the trio had caused "enormous angst and upset", with defence personnel discussing Brig McDade's statement as they went about their work.

The commandos - one of whom is understood to be a former Victorian policeman - have received strong support from families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. It's understood two of the soldiers are reservists and one is a regular.

The Director of Military Prosecutions said the accused men would be charged with various offences including manslaughter and failing to obey orders.

But Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne said the charges against the soldiers should be dropped on the grounds they were fighting for survival. "It's a sad incident, but the enemy has always used the cover of children and the civilian population," the Vietnam veteran said. "These blokes would have drawn fire and not known there were children and gone in protecting themselves."

The father of commando Pte Greg Sher, who was killed in a Taliban rocket attack in January last year, also condemned the charges as "totally unfair". "I would urge Lyn McDade to proceed with caution lest she send out the wrong message," Felix Sher said.

Mr Sher said the Taliban had no regard for human life, placing civilians at risk to protect themselves. "It makes life difficult (for Australian soldiers). It's all very well going by the Geneva Convention, but these insurgents don't operate under the Geneva Convention," he said.

Two of the soldiers yesterday vowed to defend the charges through court. "We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the Director of Military Prosecutions to charge us with offences arising from the incident in Afghanistan on the night of 12 February, 2009," the soldiers, identified only as A and B, said in a statement through legal firm Kennedys.

"We will strenuously defend the charges and we look forward to the opportunity of publicly clearing our reputations, as well as the reputation of the ADF."

They said their actions had saved the lives of Australian and Afghani soldiers involved in the raid.

"It should not be forgotten that the casualties were ultimately caused by the callous and reckless act of an insurgent who chose to repeatedly fire upon us at extreme close range from within a room he knew contained women and children," they said.

The decision to lay charges comes days after the Herald Sun revealed frontline soldiers were complaining they were not getting sufficient support.


Green Party now helping to decide Australia's climate policy

Astounding. Getting any Warmist policy through the parliament will be another matter, however

The arrival of the Greens as a political force has been cemented with a seat at the all-powerful Cabinet table - not quite as a minister but courtesy of a new committee.

In the latest bid to put a price on carbon emissions, Julia Gillard's "multi-party climate change committee" will hold monthly meetings in the Cabinet room. The Prime Minister will chair it and the Greens have landed the position of co-deputy chair. "This isn't easy but we intend to work through and tackle the question of reducing carbon pollution," Ms Gillard said.

Federal politics' new paradigm burst into living colour yesterday with the first Labor-Greens joint press conference of the hung Parliament. Ms Gillard and senior ministers joined forces with Greens leader Bob Brown to announce the committee, whose job is to investigate carbon-pricing options such as an emissions trading scheme, a carbon tax or a blend of both.

Independent MP Tony Windsor is a member too but it is unlikely any Opposition MP will sign up.

Ms Gillard will invite two Coalition MPs to join but only on the condition they agree climate change is real and a carbon price is needed. Terms of reference state the committee would "ensure its deliberations and papers remain confidential" until a final position was reached.

Ms Gillard defended the confidentiality provisions on grounds of economic sensitivity and Senator Brown said it was needed to confidently air differing views. "The end result is going to be very public and a bit of secrecy or confidentiality along the way to get the best result overall is a reasonable price to pay," he said.

Treasurer Wayne Swan and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet will sit on the committee along with four expert advisers - Prof Ross Garnaut, Prof Will Steffen, Rod Sims and Patricia Faulkner.

Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt rejected the committee's membership requirements as "repugnant". "You can only be part of the committee if you accept the pre-ordained outcome," Mr Hunt said.

The terms of reference offer Ms Gillard a dignified way out of her much-maligned Citizens' Assembly to discuss climate change - the committee will decide if it is needed at all.


Committee ignores third way in tackling climate change, says Coalition

"Belief test" shows that it is religion, not science that is involved

THE Coalition has sharpened its attack on Labor's climate change committee, saying it's too secretive and based on accepting a pre-ordained outcome.

Squabbling over the committee intensified this morning before the official opening of the 43rd Australian parliament, the swearing-in of members and the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The government says members of the multi-party committee should be committed to establishing a price on carbon, and its deliberations will be in secret until an agreement is reached. The Coalition has refused the government's offer to sit on the committee.

Opposition spokesman for climate action Greg Hunt claimed today that a “belief test” had been imposed on the committee, saying the two options up for consideration were a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. “Our view is that there is a third way in terms of market mechanisms,” he told ABC radio.

“And that's the water buyback equivalent - what we would call direct action for a carbon buyback. “That's off the table. And you are not even allowed to participate in the committee unless you accept that the third way is not on the table,” he said.

“And I'm not aware respectfully of a belief test ever having been imposed. It's almost Orwellian to say we have a new openness but now in fact we have a) almost the most secret committee ever and b) certainly the only belief test committee in parliamentary history.”

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said the government was effectively ruling him out of the committee, adding: “I'm probably the most highly qualified scientist in this place.” He said he was being ruled out because he didn't “believe in a carbon price”. “It's as simple as that. I'm being ruled out on that basis,” he said.

“It would make no difference if I thought that there were other mechanisms to tackle things. “And I think that there are things that you can do responsibly without needing to go to a carbon price regardless of what's your philosophical viewpoint on whether human beings are causing climate change or not.”

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet dismissed the criticisms as “hyperbole”. He said on Sky News it was “complete rubbish” that the committee required its members to have a pre-ordained position.

Mr Combet said membership of the committee membership was based on whether a political party respected the climate science, saying it would provide common ground to “move forward”. However, he confirmed the purpose of the committee was to “discuss the options for introducing a carbon price”.

Mr Combet also defended the confidentiality arrangements, arguing there would be some “very commercially sensitive” information being considered. However, he added that some of the information being considered could also be useful in stimulating debate, citing an updated version of Professor Ross Garnaut's climate change review.


Criminals won't get discounts for incriminating others

And even "soft on crime" Cowdery agrees with that

CRIMINALS who dob in other crooks can no longer expect lighter sentences just because they fear being bashed in prison. Under a new directive to be issued to NSW judges by the State Government, courts will also get tougher in sentencing child sex offenders who plead hardship because they have lost their jobs.

Attorney-General John Hatzistergos will today announce a package of reforms to sentence discounts, designed to stop excessive leniency given to criminals who plead for sympathy.

The Government will tell judges not to shorten sentences because offenders suffer "hardship" directly caused by their own criminal behaviour. It follows a report by the NSW Sentencing Council into sentence discounts.

"Discounts for hardship are to be given only where the evidence shows they are warranted, not in instances where an offender's apparent suffering is a consequence of their appalling criminal behaviour," Mr Hatzistergos said.

He said one example to be addressed was the practice of the courts assuming "rollovers" - prisoners who inform on other criminals to police - would endure a tough time in jail.

While such criminals would still be eligible for sentence cuts for co-operating with authorities, no further discount would be given for the feared violence from inmates. "Courts have traditionally presumed that offenders who 'roll over' do it tougher on the inside but the modern reality of our prison system dictates that this is not the case," Mr Hatzistergos said.

Courts would also have to reveal the sentence an offender would have received, had the offender not offered to assist authorities.

There would also be no discounts for offenders who have had their assets confiscated as proceeds of crime and argued the loss of their home was already a punishment.

And sex offenders who have previously received lighter sentences because of "hardship" after being prohibited from working with children under Child Protection laws would also get no discounts.

Director of Public Prosecutions Nick Cowdery yesterday supported the changes as being "matters of logic and commonsense". "A discount for hardship should not be given for difficulty created by the offending and its normal lawful consequences," he said.



Paul said...

"Ms Gillard will invite two Coalition MPs to join but only on the condition they agree climate change is real"

This is the "New World Order" that supposed conspiracy theorists have been warning us about, in action. She lied to get elected, pure and simple. She was always required to bring about a Carbon tax/ETS whatever, and she has no hesitation doing so. I wonder what the going rate is for betraying your country?

Ruby said...

She also snubbed her country today by not being present at the traditional church service before Parliament.

She has only contempt for the 50% plus of the population who do not agree with her policies for late term abortions, atheism, big new tax for climate change and the secretive committee to regulate it. This will not fix the climate if indeed it needs fixing. It will just make the rich and the Socialists richer and us poor mugs poorer. Bring on the elections. Go! Tony the "wrecker" get rid of them.