Friday, November 05, 2010

A forgotten celebration

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
That gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Today is the anniversary of the infamous 1605 plot to blow up the British Houses of Parliament and, with them, King James I of England. Although the assassination attempt was thwarted, it remains one of history’s most commemorated events. Throughout Britain, and in parts of the Commonwealth, the foiling of the plot is celebrated each year on Guy Fawkes Night with effigies of the head terrorist burned on festive bonfires.

But it not celebrated in Queensland any more and I gather that most other Australian States are the same. The excuse? "Safety". Kids do get injured by fireworks etc.

I did myself get a burned hand as a kid on one long-ago Guy Fawkes night. But so what? Living is dangerous. We would ban cars if safety was an unalterable priority.

But whatever its initial rationale, Guy Fawkes day was a great treat for kids: Making the guy, building the bonfire and letting off fireworks. It really saddens me that children have had that great fun day taken away from them by those who fancy themselves as wiser than us. Celebrating the defeat of a terrorist act should be an individual decision, not a government one. As it is, most young Australians now have no knowledge or experience of a Guy Fawkes Night -- JR

What a disgrace! A vicious and cowardly attack that could and should have earned 20 years jail gets only a slap on the wrist

One can only hope that the sentence will be appealed

A man who carried out an attack on an Indian student that caused outrage in Melbourne and India has been spared a jail term today. Judge Meryl Sexton told Shayne Casey Comensoli, 20 his random attack on Indian student Lucky Singh was "quite outrageous" but there was insufficient evidence to conclude it was a "race hate crime".

Sentencing Comensoli the judge said he accepted the victim's account that as he and another man bashed Mr Singh unconscious he called him an "Indian dog" and said "shut up you Indian motherf-----, shut up".

"This attack occurred during a spate of reported offences of violence against men of Indian ethnicity in the western suburbs of Melbourne," Judge Sexton said. "I am satisfied that at the point in time when you were attacking Mr Singh you hated him.

"However it is difficult to be satisfied to the same degree that your offence was wholly or partially motivated by hatred for Indian people in general."

The judge rejected a prosecution argument that Comensoli should be sent to an adult jail and instead ordered he be detained in a youth justice centre for three years. [How come? Anyone over 18 is legally an adult. This guy is 20] But under the youth justice system an offender can be released at any time from the date of sentence.

Judge Sexton said Mr Singh, 23, was set upon at a phone box in Sunshine in October last year by Comensoli and co-accused Lennon Metaxas. Mr Singh was hit 15-20 times to the head and face, and kneed, and as he lay unconscious his attackers searched his clothing and stole a wallet containing $80. Mr Singh suffered fractures to his cheekbone and nose, severe swelling and bruising, and required reconstructive surgery.

Comensoli, formerly of Sunshine, pleaded guilty in the County Court to intentionally causing serious injury, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and robbery which carries a 15-year maximum. At an earlier hearing Metaxas, 20, was also sent to a youth detention centre for three years.

The judge said in his victim impact statement Mr Singh told of the devastating effects of the bashing. He suffered nightmares, was afraid to go out at night or use public transport and moved house twice.

"The effects of your attack have been felt not just by him, but by his friends, who are foreign students and his family in India," Judge Sexton said. "He says that he thought people in Australia were friendly and welcoming but since his assault his perception has changed."

The judge said Comensoli felt ashamed about his racist comments because he played cricket with a number of men from Sri Lanka and India. "Perhaps if you are faced with such a situation again , you will picture the faces of those men whom you count as friends and think how it would be to savagely beat them as you did Mr Singh," she said.


Onya Derryn!

"I’d rather be treated like a criminal than protect them", says Derryn Hinch. We need more like him. Justice in Australia is a rotting corpse

Getting ready for my appearance before the High Court in Canberra this week I did some eccentric research. I watched The Castle for the first time.

Shame, shame, shame. Hinch addressing the victims of crime rally. Picture: Craig BorrowShame, shame, shame. Hinch addressing the victims of crime rally. Picture: Craig Borrow

And whether your name is Daryl or Derryn it is pretty daunting walking up those steps to the towering glass fa├žade of the High Court building in Canberra. With life imitating art, some of the media gang and camera crews who played extras in The Castle were there again in real life for my High Court battle.

That’s where the similarity ended. The battler fighting to retain his home on the grounds that a man’s home is his castle had a suburban solicitor and a QC played by Bud Tingwell against a couple of high-powered lawyers.

In our case there were 30 lawyers packed along two rows. Only four of them were on my side. The other 26 represented most states of Australia and the Commonwealth.

I was there because, earlier this year, I had the rare privilege of being granted leave to challenge the legality of a Victorian law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

We challenged on two grounds:

That through suppression orders, our justice system is not being open and transparent – as justice constitutionally must be in a democracy like ours. I believe that the way some of our laws are being interpreted and enforced by our judges, justice is not being done and not being seen to be done.

And, secondly, that I have been denied my right to ‘political communication’ in a long-running public campaign to have a bad law changed.

It stems from my naming two notorious sex offenders at a victims of crime rally on the steps of Parliament House in Victoria several years ago. Thousands of supporters shouted the names but the DPP chose to prosecute only one. Me. Consequently in the Magistrate’s Court I face five charges which carry maximum penalties of $60,000 in fines and up to five years in jail. If the High Court action fails I go back to the lower court for sentencing only.

In the High Court, before a Full Bench of seven judges, I was opposed by the attorneys-general for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Commonwealth Solicitor-General.

One state was surprisingly missing. Victoria. The state where I allegedly committed this offence on the steps of their own Parliament.

The irony in all this, is that I applauded when that Government appeared to get tough by announcing they were amending the 2005 Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act. It meant the Secretary of the Department of Justice could apply to the County or Supreme Court for a supervision order if a convicted sex offender is assessed as posing a serious risk to the community of re-offending on his release from jail.

And they could then have tabs kept on them under an Extended Supervision Order. Where they could live. If they changed their name or their job. Even be ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Nobody mentioned to us that, in return, some of the worst rapists and paedophiles in this country could have their names and addresses and photos suppressed by law. For ever. Even after they die. That they could return to the community incognito and melt back into the community without the public knowing who they are or where they are.

That they could be living next to you, or next to your kids’ school, or your local park. They didn’t trumpet that minor point.

Police Minister Tim Holding said in 2005 ‘The public can be reassured that every precaution is being taken to protect the community against these people.’ And Corrections Minister Bob Cameron said ‘The new scheme will….. result in enhanced community safety.’

Both were speaking rubbish. Dangerous rubbish. These suppression orders are not used to protect the identity of other criminals like murderers, or tax evaders, or drug dealers.They are only invoked for serial sex offenders whom the courts believe are likely to re-offend.

I know what I did, and what several thousand others did, on the steps of Parliament House, was morally right. The High Court will decide if I was legally right. Whatever they decide I am proud of what I did and I am ready for whatever happens.

But I can say, whatever happens, I have won. The issue of public interest and open courts is now being debated in the highest court in the land. Questions are being asked. The door of secrecy and suppression has been prised open. And some light is getting in. Can’t ask for more than that.

I accept that at times there must be restrictions and evidence and names must sometimes be suppressed. But that should be a rarity and not the norm as increasingly, and ominously, seems to be the case.

I have said this many times before—in the 23 years since I went to jail for naming a paedophile priest—but never before has this simple question been so important:

Who’s looking after the children?

Footnote: I only got to the High Court this week because of a legal team that understands the constitutional issues at stake here. They are all working pro bono and have put in months of work on my behalf on a complex and, I believe, nationally important, legal matter. I thank them. David Bennett QC, for ten years the Solicitor-General of Australia, my barrister, Geoff Slater and from HWL Ebsworth Nic Pullen and Andrew Thompson.


Note: There are recent posts on my QANTAS/Jetstar blog and my Queensland Police blog

Australian government not only shelters thug illegals from justice but approves their refugee claims and releases them into the community

Given their behaviour, there is a clear likelihood that the thugs concerned are former Tamil Tiger terrorists

A Perth magistrate says the immigration department "effectively sabotaged" police investigations into a riot by detainees on Christmas Island and allowed key players to escape justice.

Magistrate Stephen Malley on Thursday also criticised federal police as he delivered his verdicts on charges against five Sri Lankan Tamil detainees following the riot at the detention centre on November 21 last year.

He said it was "bizarre" that within 48 hours of the extremely violent confrontation, the immigration department shipped off 40 detainees to the mainland, many of whom were involved in the violence. The actions of the department "effectively sabotaged" investigations into the riot by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Mr Malley said.

The Perth Magistrates Court heard that Afghan detainees were violently set upon by Sri Lankan detainees following a dispute between the two groups. Mr Malley said rioters armed themselves with tree branches, pool cues, mop handles, chairs and parts of soccer goal posts that were dismantled during the violence.

He said that following the riot the immigration department showed "little or no regard whether those they were releasing committed serious or criminal acts". Those more seriously involved were in effect "assisted to evade prosecution", the magistrate said. The department showed "reckless disregard" for the significance of the events and had given limited assistance to the AFP, he said.

Mr Malley also said video interviews conducted by police were "poorly done and in most instances worthless" while photo boards used for identification were inadequate.

He found that staff employed by the firm Serco, charged with running the centre, were "not well trained in the manner in which to deal with these events".

Originally 11 Sri Lankans were put on trial over the riots but six had charges against them dismissed. Mr Malley said the case had been frustrating for the court given the inadequacy of the investigations and the "considerable money" invested in bringing lesser players before the courts.

The magistrate found two of the five Sri Lankans guilty on charges of rioting and weapons possession and another guilty of possessing a weapon. On the rioting charges, Pranavan Sivasubramaniyam and Anburajan Anton were given six-month jail sentences suspended for six months. They and Gnararajah Jesurajah were put on good behaviour bonds of $500 on the weapons possession charges. Anantharajeevan Thangarasha and Kokilakumar Subramanian were found not guilty on the charges against them.

The court heard the riot started in a compound at the detention centre and spread onto the sports oval. Sri Lankans, agitated over an earlier confrontation in which Tamils were injured, gathered and pursued outnumbered Afghans, bashing many of them in a "violent confrontation based on racial lines", Mr Malley found. "The evidence is of a running battle, with Afghanis retreating towards the medical compound chased by the Sri Lankan detainees."

In sentencing, Mr Malley told the convicted men they had allowed their emotions to affect their better judgment. The five Sri Lankans have been granted refugee status but have been kept in detention in Perth pending the result of their trial. They are expected to be released from detention within weeks.


A great day for the ladies

An $18 "horse dress" bought online has upstaged Melbourne's most stylish on the biggest fashion day of the spring racing carnival.

Colour and classic styles, with many women drawing their 1950s and 60s inspiration from the popular TV show Mad Men, were the order of Oaks Day at Flemington.

But Cairns resident Jaydee Paino stole the fashions on the field show - and the $100,000 in prizes - in her first time in the competition. The 25-year-old bought her vintage outfit online for just $18 after typing in "horse dress". When the steeplechase print dress arrived from Nashville, Tennessee, Ms Paino and friend Nigel Vogler took it apart and got to work transforming it into a 1950s style with a full skirt. "I love the whole Mad Men style," Ms Paino said. "I think it's so appropriate for a day at the races."

Supermodel Jerry Hall and daughter Georgia May Jagger, both wearing Vivienne Westwood, were the big celebrity drawcard for Ladies Day. Posing for the cameras, Hall described Australian fashion as "gorgeous". "We just got here but we've got our eyes out. Georgia and I have seen a few that we think are possible contenders."

Over in the Lavazza marquee, former Baywatch babe Carmen Electra was revelling in being "treated like a queen" in Melbourne. "It's fun to see everyone get decked out and dressed to the nines and the men as well," she said.

Irish singer Ronan Keating had such a blast at last year's Melbourne Cup that he opted for his first Oaks Day when he couldn't make it back to Flemington on Tuesday. "I absolutely love it, you guys know how to do it in style," he said.


Prominent Australian Greenie false prophet

Tim Flannery does it again

I’m astonished that people still take this shameless alarmist seriously despite all his dud predictions. The latest example. Tim Flannery in The Sydney Morning Herald, February 12, 2009:
THE day after the great fire burnt through central Victoria, I drove from Sydney to Melbourne. Smoke obscured the horizon, entering my air-conditioned car and carrying with it that distinctive scent so strongly signifying death or, to Aboriginal people, cleansing. It was as if a great cremation had taken place.

I didn’t know then how many people had died in their cars and homes, or while fleeing, but by the time I reached the scorched ground just north of Melbourne, the dreadful news was trickling in. And the trauma will be with us forever.

I was born in Victoria, and over five decades I’ve watched as the state has changed. The long, wet and cold winters that seemed insufferable to me as a boy vanished decades ago, and for the past 12 years a new, drier climate has established itself.

Bureau of Meteorology Monthly Weather Review, Victoria, August this year:
OVER half the state recorded rainfall in the highest 10 per cent of previous totals, with some locations in the western district, specifically Weeaproinah, Cape Otway Lighthouse and Apollo Bay, all highest on record. In fact, Weeaproinah experienced not only their wettest August on record, but also their wettest month on record, with a 628mm soaking.

BOM, Melbourne Metropolitan Area, last month: WETTEST since 1975.


How Australia's main public broadcaster shields the Greens

They are a Green/Left outfit that wouldn't know what a free and fair debate even looked like

The Australian Conservative describes how ABC host Jon Faine shut down an attempt to question a Greens supporter:
Melbourne ABC radio presenter Jon Faine threatened to switch off his guest panellists’ microphones this morning when one of them—IPA executive director John Roskam—tried to press questions on the policies of the Australian Greens.

Faine’s threat came after Roskam tried to question “Rob of Monbulk”, a Greens’ supporter, during the program’s talkback segment.

The caller phoned in to criticise Roskam over the IPA boss’s opposition to trialling drug injection rooms. But when Roskam attempted to ask the caller about the Greens’ policies on euthanasia and carbon taxes, Faine would not let him do so, declaring that he wanted to “move on”.

Roskam said this was an example of why the Greens are enjoying growing electoral support – “no one has ever held them to account"…

When Roskam attempted to question the caller about electricity prices, his co-panellist, former editor of The Monthly, Sally Warhaft, urged the Greens’ supporter not to answer.

Jon Faine said, “And we’re moving on, we’re moving on, we’re moving on, we’re moving on, and we’re moving on. I can turn your microphones off, but it would be a drastic step to do so.”

This report doesn’t even describe just how desperately loaded this “conversation” was. Listen at the link. The Greens-leaning Warhaft was allowed to speak long and uninterrupted by Faine, himself Greens-sympathetic. The Greens caller was allowed to speak at length, even when he falsely accused Roskam of being a liar. But whenever the outnumbered Roskam attempted to speak as the lone voice of the non-Greens majority…

SOURCE (See the original for links)

No comments: