Monday, June 20, 2011

Murderous social workers

They did not commit the murders themselves but they might as well have

THREE Victorians have been murdered by parole violators after case workers failed to notify the Parole Board of new offences that would have put them back behind bars.

A police review of murders committed by parolees has blamed Corrections Victoria staff for at least three of the seven deaths investigated.

It has now been revealed another five murders have been committed in other states by Victorians who absconded on parole.

Victoria Police acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay and Corrections Victoria Commissioner Bob Hastings have both admitted that procedural failures left parole violators on the streets.

An urgent review was ordered after the Herald Sun revealed in April that years of police bungling had left parole violators at large, because the force's LEAP computer system was not programmed to flag a suspect's parole status.

Now, it has been discovered that the Parole Board was not given the chance to cancel the parole of some reoffenders because community corrections case workers did not report the new offences.

The police review found that:

ONE parole violator, arrested and bailed three times without the Parole Board being advised by his case worker, was charged with murder two months after he was last bailed.

ANOTHER parolee was charged with murder only six weeks after he was bailed for the third time over assault and aggravated burglary charges.

POLICE first approached the then Labor government in 2002 to request access to parole information, but were refused.

SENIOR police were warned of the potential ramifications of the computer deficiency as long ago as 2007.

A SOLUTION to the computer problem was delayed for almost six months while police and Corrections authorities argued over whether giving parole details to police breached privacy.

The cost of an upgrade of the force's LEAP computer system to include parole status - finally done last month - is believed to have been less than $50,000.

The secret police report obtained by the Herald Sun in April identified seven Victorian murders committed by offenders whose parole might have been cancelled if police had known they were on parole.

The leaked report revealed that the seven were among 11 parolees charged with murder in Victoria between July 1, 2008, and November 17, 2010.

Further inquiries by police have now disclosed that in three of the seven cases the parolees had been arrested and charged with other serious offences before being charged with murder.

In all three cases, the parole violators' case workers failed either to check back with the arresting police or to report the new charges to the Parole Board.

Mr Lay said the failure to pass on information to the Parole Board had exposed people to risk, but it was hard to know how many deaths could have been prevented.

"Have offenders stayed in the community and not been breached as a result? Yes, there's no doubt about that," he said. "Have offences occurred as a result? Yes. "Could these murders have been prevented? I suspect not, but that will be up to the Coroner."

A police spokesman confirmed that five Victorian parolees had been charged with murders interstate. He said only one had previous contact with Victoria Police while on parole before being charged with murder in 2002.

Police would not reveal the names of any of the parolees.

Mr Lay said police managers at all levels had been told of the LEAP computer problem since 2007, but "for a whole host of reasons it hadn't been fixed". "We just need to work hard to get better at that, but there is a level of confidence that it's highly unlikely there would have been any different outcome in these three cases," he said.

He said the force still had some training issues with regard to the approach to the granting of bail to parolees by police, but he was confident all issues had now been identified.

Mr Lay said police had no idea how many other serious crimes had been committed by parole violators whose parole status had not been flagged to the officers who arrested them.


Christian group fears Federal government could back homosexual "marriage"

A CHRISTIAN lobby group fears the Federal Government could join the Queensland Labor Party and back same-sex marriage. The state conference of the ALP's Queensland branch yesterday passed a motion calling on both federal Labor and the ALP national conference to support same-sex marriage.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is worried federal Labor could follow Queensland's lead when it meets for its national conference in December. "We have appreciated Prime Minister (Julia) Gillard's resolve to honour Labor's commitment but we are worried about elements of the party who are seemingly dismissive of the party's election promise and are following the Greens' lead on redefining marriage," the lobby group's chief of staff Lyle Shelton said.

"ACL urges delegates to the federal conference in December not to break Australia's bi-partisan support for marriage being between one man and one woman."

Ms Gillard last week reaffirmed in Parliament the Labor Party's commitment not to support gay marriage.

Federal Labor MP Shayne Nuemann, who represents the Queensland electorate of Blair, today backed Ms Gillard's comments, saying he did not support same-sex marriage. "But that's a matter for national conference (and) federal caucus at some stage in the future and I'll have my say there," he said.

Mr Shelton said the changing of federal laws in 2008 to give gay couples the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples meant issues of equality had been dealt with under the law. "But equality under the law does not mean that marriage should be redefined," he said. "This debate would be understandable if there were issues of substantial inequality but there are none."

Mr Shelton said the Queensland Labor Party risked alienating mainstream voters by fixating on a small, activist component of the population instead of dealing with the issues most Australians were concerned about.


Thought crimes a bolt through the heart of modern democracy

By Paul Howes (The national secretary of the Australian Workers Union)

IN most public libraries you can read the most controversial things and no one bats an eyelid. In fact you don't even have to visit a library to access the most evil of tracts, such as Mein Kampf or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Just jump on to Google and you'll be able to download the entire texts.

You can wander into many bookshops and find weirdo ideas from groups ranging from the Moonies to the Mormons, or the early novels of L. Ron Hubbard. Or listen to preachers such as the Reverend Fred Nile, who tells us homosexuals will burn for a billion years in hell.Or take in the words of Danny Nalliah of the Catch the Fire Ministries and his ranting about Muslims and atheists.

So you can say a lot of things in our democracy and you can watch a lot of things - violence, pornography, cattle being clumsily slaughtered - and you can read.

Well almost anything. Increasingly it seems the "well almost anything" may involve two names, Andrew and Bolt.

Now as you might suspect, I actually disagree with many, if not most, things [conservative commentator] Andrew Bolt says and writes. But I am concerned that people in some of the circles in which I mix, on my side of politics, increasingly seem to think they should write, or invoke or resurrect, laws that will shut Bolt up.

A democracy is, at the very least, a free marketplace of ideas, and a free marketplace of arguments against those ideas. But it is never, ever a stifling or suffocation of ideas. Ideas will out, they cannot be contained. They are our better, or our worse, angels and they will be heard.

Now I do vehemently disagree with what Bolt says, and often says, about certain people being insufficiently black. There really is a silly idea here, of how black or white applicants should be for certain prizes and scholarships. Andrew grabs an idea and often follows his logic to wherever it may lead him; God help those who stand in his way!

Now while I really can't accept some of this stuff I will - unsurprisingly - defend to the death his right to run a hot-headed, half-cocked argument where he says he is now putting into his crosshairs all sorts of political, academic and media grandees. It is the Voltaire in me that says I don't like what you're saying - or about to say - but sure as hell I reckon you have the right, in our democracy, to run that argument.

Sometimes I hear about Bolt's latest outrageous challenge to orthodoxy and groan and wonder if he truly believes the words he has written. Or whether he merely loves the controversy and headlines it creates.

But despite all the bombs he regularly throws over the parapet at some of my mates in Canberra, I have to own up to liking Bolt. I have done media battle with him plenty of times and I know there is a real decency there, to which I would be proud to attest in any court.

So I am sorry to see him now dragged through the courts for possibly breaching - if he did - a law that, probably, should not be there, stretching out its fingers into the realm of what Orwell might have called a Thought Crime; because he impertinently asked the wrong questions, when all the right answers have been handed down from above - in tablets of stone - long ago.

This is not a cast of mind that I applaud. It smacks of the 16th century when William Tyndale was strangled to death while tied at a stake and his body then burned, all for translating the Bible into English. Or the 17th century, when Galileo was put in danger of the same fate for saying the Earth moved around the sun.

And the 20th century, when books were burned in the public square for being not quite the way a dictator preferred a book to be.

In each case a Thought Crime is said to have been committed, the accusation comes from an elite keen to assert its casting vote on what is reality, and who should decide what ideas are allowed and in what circumstances they can be promoted.

So we need to be very, very careful when we define vilification and what, by contrast, dissent is, or what can or cannot be accepted as a contrarian view.

I sometimes feel we are getting a bit too vigilant over words and ideas when many really vile deeds go unpunished.

I suspect I will always disagree with Bolt. On most things.

I will always fear his persuasive powers as an advocate of ideas that I will never agree with; but I will always be ready to meet him in vigorous debate over things that shape our country's future.

And I will always defend his democratic right, as a member of a free society, to say what he will, to exercise that privilege of dissent that has defined, since Federation, the Australia we all belong to, and all, with varying shades of caveat, believe in and remain proud of, a free Australia.

Our freedom of speech should remain unmitigated by this new quavering cowardice that some would impose.


Fascism and faith prove too hot for outdoor advertising giant

OUTDOOR advertising giant APN has refused to display two posters on government-owned buses for Ten's new prime-time TV show Can of Worms.

The posters that were rejected are based on questions that will be put to guest panellists on Ian "Dicko" Dickson's new show, due to air next month. The two questions that were rejected were: "Is it wrong to tell your kids there is no God?" and "Is it wrong to dress up as Hitler for a fancy dress party?".

Can of Worms producer Anita Jacoby told Media she was shocked the campaign had been rejected by APN Outdoor. "The marketing campaign has taken some of our fodder for the show and used it as a device to capture people's attention," said Ms Jacoby, who is Andrew Denton's partner in the production company Zapruder's Other Films. "We've put the key questions out there to provoke some conversation.

"I can't for the life of me see what's so controversial about putting out a question like: 'Is it OK to tell your kids there is no God?' "I mean, isn't that what we talk about around the dinner table every night? For one politically correct person within an organisation -- who is fearful of government -- to say we can't talk about these things is wrong."

Earlier this month, another outdoor advertising company, Adshel, was forced to back down on a decision to ban billboards on bus shelters in Brisbane promoting safe sex and the use of condoms. Adshel had been targeted by the Australian Christian Lobby, but the Can of Worms marketing campaign was rejected even before a single complaint from the public.

The Group Radio and Outdoor chief executive for APN, Richard Herring, was asked to comment on the ban, but did not return Media's calls.

The company's stance is in contrast to the acceptance of the campaign by every other advertising platform rolling out today, including radio, newspapers, magazines, and fixed and moving billboards. APN is a rival to EyeCorp, a outdoor ad company owned by Ten Network Holdings. Ten's marketing department did manage to get the company to eventually accept a third poster, which said "Is it OK to spy on your kids online?", which the company had originally rejected.

Ms Jacoby said the ban on bus panels had not ruined the campaign: "We've already opened our first can of worms and already people are talking about it."

A Ten source said APN had pointed to its guidelines, which say anything "political, sexual or offensive" was not acceptable. Ironically, another division of APN approved the artwork for government-owned trains.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Mr Shelton said the Queensland Labor Party risked alienating mainstream voters by fixating on a small, activist component of the population instead of dealing with the issues most Australians were concerned about."

I'm no fan of the ACL but...Touche