Friday, January 17, 2014

Sex fiend Robert Fardon wins fight for freedom after Newman Government drops court challenge

PREMIER Campbell Newman has fired another shot at the legal fraternity over the release of reviled sex predator Robert John Fardon.

Speaking at Kangaroo Point on Thursday after sections of the Government's new sex offender laws were ruled invalid by the courts, Mr Newman said he was disappointed with the outcome as were many other "fair minded people".

"Sadly in a time past, people like Mr Fardon would never have got out, and it really distresses me that today for whatever reason that is not the case, (and it) seems to be we have a lot of a legal system, but not enough of a justice system," said Mr Newman.

He rejected any suggestion the Government's laws designed to keep Mr Fardon behind bars were rushed, and drafted without proper consultation.

"We have on all occasions with changes to the law, sought top legal advice," Mr Newman said.

"But the legal system is an interesting system. It doesn't always serve up outcomes that the people expect."

He vowed to continue to try to find ways to keep dangerous sex offenders like Mr Fardon locked up and expressed concern that Wednesday's decision would see other rapists and pedophiles released back into the community.

"We have worked extremely hard to find solutions to some of these really vexed problems, these terrible criminals who've committed such awful crimes," said the Premier.

"The faith will continue but clearly in this case it's trying to lock the gate after the horse has bolted."


REVILED sex predator Robert Fardon has won his fight for freedom after the Newman Government abandoned a High Court challenge aimed at forcing him back behind bars.

The Attorney General will not appeal a court decision which declared sections of the Newman Government's new sex offender laws invalid.

The decision, made on high-level legal advice, clears the final hurdle for Fardon who has fought to be released for more than a decade.

Other notorious sex offenders could soon follow Fardon and earn their freedom, forcing authorities to closely monitor their movements in a desperate bid to prevent them reoffending.

Acting Attorney-General David Crisafulli said the Government had done more than any of its predecessors to keep Fardon behind bars

"We did everything we could but some of Queensland's top silks, including the Solicitor-General, all advised we were out of options," he said.

Fardon was jailed for rape, sodomy and assault offences and was to be released in 2002 but had his 14-year prison term extended under indefinite sentencing laws introduced by Beatiie government.

His case is being regularly reviewed by the courts.

Last year the Newman Government rushed through new laws which would have given them power to override the court and keep dangerous sex offenders in prison permanently.

Fardon remains under a 24-hour a day court-imposed curfew on the grounds of the so-called "garden of evil" at Wacol, where offenders on supervision orders are often housed by authorities, after the Court of Appeal ordered his release in December.

His conditions, which also include GPS tracking, a drug and alcohol ban and supervised trips into the community for medical and legal reasons, will eventually be reviewed by the courts.

Mr Crisafulli said legal advice advice clearly indicated a successful High Court challenge was unlikely.

"We kept Fardon in prison after successfully appealing his release last year and we lodged a subsequent appeal when he was ordered to be released again,'' he said.

Along with monitoring sex offenders released by the courts, the Newman Government continues to investigate ways to inhibit the release of prisoners deemed dangerous by experts after committing to make Queensland the safest place in Australia to raise a family.

"Protecting Queensland families should never have a price tag which is why we fought so hard to keep Fardon locked away for as long as we could,'' Mr Crisafulli said.

"We didn't want him out in the first place, but it's now a matter of keeping him on a very tight leash and working out ways to ensure other people like him are kept behind bars.

"Our resolve will not be broken and that's why we are working on toughening the existing legislation."

Victim Sharon Tomlinson, who was just 12 years old when Fardon brutally raped her at gunpoint 35 years ago, has warned the 65-year-old will reoffend.

Fardon's long history of sex crimes began as a teenager in 1967 when he was convicted of attempted unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl aged under 10.

The demise of laws allowing the Attorney-General to veto court release decisions will also leave the Government with few options in the case of killer Mark Richard Lawrence, 51.

Lawrence, who has been in jail since 1984 for the manslaughter of a female psychiatric patient and the later rape of a prisoner is due to face his sixth review of a continuing detention order.

Despite past convictions for aggravated assault against three boys and a girl, psychiatrists are expected to testify at his next hearing that the killer and sex predator was now a lesser risk of reoffending if released.


Co-payments key to affordable healthcare system

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair once said that it was impossible to have a serious discussion about the future solvency of Western governments without putting greater personal responsibility for health costs at the front and centre of the debate.

Unfortunately, Blair said this after he was safely retired from politics and didn’t have to cop any political flak for questioning the sustainability of a “free”, taxpayer-funded health system.

This appears to be the lesson of the debate over the proposed Medicare ­co-payment, which interest group after interest group has lined up to condemn, despite out-of-pocket contributions for GP services featuring in public health systems in social democratic countries, including New Zealand and Sweden.

At this stage, the Abbott government appears to be seriously contemplating the proposal, with the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, signalling in-principle support for greater cost-sharing as a way to start getting on top of the ­ever-increasing cost of health to the budget. This is despite the opportunistic campaign launched by the federal opposition, which is keen to portray the idea of a co-payment with income-based exemptions as a mortal threat to Medicare.

This is ironic, because 20 years ago this was Labor Party policy. In 1991, the Hawke government was searching for savings in the midst of a recession. It decided to put the brakes on the rising cost of Medicare by introducing a $2.50 compulsory co-payment, excluding pensioners and other low-income groups.

This policy lasted only three months before being abolished by Paul Keating in return for the support of left-wing members of the Labor caucus in the successful leadership challenge that made Keating the prime minister.

Scrapping the co-payment is one of the worst public policy decisions of the Keating government. The Hawke co-payment policy simply recognised the iron law of economics: what is consumed for free will inevitably be overused or, if you like, “if it’s free, I’ll have two”.
Paying $6 or a similar sum is a small amount to access still heavily subsidised healthcare and deliberately so.

Co-payments of this magnitude work by restraining use without having a negative impact on health outcomes, as was proved by the famous RAND healthcare experiments. Having to pay the equivalent of the cost of a hamburger will make people think twice about whether they really need to see the doctor, while the expense is not large enough to deter the genuinely ill. The Medicare Safety Net is already in place to protect the chronically ill and compensate those with high out-of-pocket medical expenses, so the equity concerns cited by critics are overstated.

Critics are also ignoring the fact that GP visits are relatively low-cost health services and a co-payment doesn’t fully address the structural problems with Medicare.

Health insurance should ideally be used only to access high-cost services (which are usually provided in hospitals) that individuals could not possibly afford to pay for out of their own pockets.

Lower-cost health services should be considered a normal, everyday living expense for which people should make provision in their household budgets.

Imagine how expensive car insurance premiums would be if every time someone ran into a trolley at the shopping centre their insurer paid for the repairs with no excess charges applying? This kind of “first dollar” cover, which is what Medicare provides, is a fundamental reason why the cost of the system has continued to spiral.

The real solution for this rise, and the long-term health-funding challenges we face, is to ensure that individuals are required to pay for their own, affordable health services. This is the logic behind the idea of instituting for all Australians a personal “health savings account” funded along the lines of the superannuation system from which they would make withdrawals to pay for services such as GP visits, pathology tests and optometry.

The co-payments debate is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss to have the bigger discussion about personal responsibility for healthcare that Tony Blair says we have to have. It’s time.


Judges orders Queensland father to jail until daughter brought back from overseas

A Muslim, no doubt

A JUDGE has taken the extraordinary step of indefinitely jailing a father in Queensland for ignoring an order to return his young daughter from overseas, where he left her last year.

The father, who took the Australian child overseas without her mother's consent, then returned to Australia without her, has to stay in jail until she is returned.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Margaret Cassidy said it was so serious, with the child,overseas without either parent, that the father should be punished for contempt.

"There cannot be anything more important than returning this child ...with both parents here in Australia, to enable the court to be able to ascertain what is in the child's best interests,'' she said.

The girl's Queensland mother, an Australian citizen, is desperately worried about her daughter.

The mother believes her child is living in a basic village mud hut without electricity or plumbing and not going to school.

"This is the worst thing that can happen to a parent, not knowing what is going on,'' the mother said yesterday.  "It's been an emotional roller-coaster. I've had nightmares.  "I've been sleepwalking around the house, making her lunch boxes, looking for her in her room.''

The mother said she did not want the father, who has been in jail since December, to stay behind bars. She just wanted their daughter back in Australia.

""All I want is Julie Bishop or Tony Abbott to say there is an Australian child who needs to be brought back to her parents,'' the mother said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing consular assistance, but Foreign Minister Julie Bishop could not personally engage with every consular client.

"There is only so much that consular officials can achieve in this case, given that (the country where the girl is living) is not a party to the Hague Convention,'' a DFAT spokesperson said.

In jailing the father, Judge Cassidy said: "Retribution is called for because it is essential to the proper working of a court system that court orders are obeyed.''

The father claimed a foreign court order meant he did not have to return his daughter to Australia, but Judge Cassidy said the documents did not say that.

The mother offered to pay airfares to Australia for her daughter and an adult and the judge said the girl could live with her father on her return.

The mother told Judge Cassidy she did not know the father, from whom she was separated, was taking their daughter out of school and overseas.

"I had no contact for two days and then I had a phone call from her saying 'Hey, guess what?", the mother said yesterday.

Federal Member for Brisbane Teresa Gambaro's office said it would continue to help the mother with Immigration and DFAT to ensure all consular support was provided.


Derryn Hinch refuses to pay fine, expects jail

Good on him!

Broadcaster Derryn Hinch says he will go to jail instead of paying a $100,000 fine for contempt of court.

Hinch, 69, was ordered to pay the fine - or face 50 days in jail - after breaching a suppression order about Melbourne woman Jill Meagher's killer.

"On principle I will not pay the $100,000 fine which was due today," he told the Seven Network on Thursday.  "Instead, I'll go to jail."

Hinch was found guilty of contempt for breaching a suppression order made by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle.

In sentencing Hinch in October, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye said the former broadcaster's web posts had been populist and self-serving.  "Your conduct was grossly irresponsible," Justice Kaye told Hinch.  "Although you thought you knew better than Justice Nettle, clearly you did not."

It is Hinch's sixth conviction for contempt of court or related offences, a record which Justice Kaye said was disgraceful.

Hinch apologised at the time, but on Thursday said recent cases had prompted him to send a message to the judiciary.

"I'll go to jail for 50 days to draw attention to all the suspended sentences for crimes of violence and child pornography, for the obscenely short sentences given to king-hit killers," he said.

Hinch said he was unimpressed with the fact former magistrate Simon Cooper had avoided jail, despite pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault committed in the 1980s.

Hinch spent 12 days in jail in 1987 for contempt of court after he revealed pedophile priest Michael Glennon's prior conviction while a trial was pending.

He was sentenced to five months' home detention in 2011 after publishing the suppressed identities of sex offenders.

The magistrate, Charlie Rozencwajg, told him he would have had no hesitation in sending Hinch to jail had it not been for the broadcaster's poor health, having just received a liver transplant.

The former newspaper editor had a net value of $1.18 million and an annual income of $212,000, the Supreme Court was told last year.



Paul said...

Unfortunately, co-payments will only mean that those with the means to pay will be pursued to pay, and the bulk of those that abuse the Health system monotonously will always be those who deny the ability to pay. Workers will continue to subsidize an ever expanding welfare demographic.

Anonymous said...

Damn elderly abusing the health system, expected us workers to subsidise their drugs and frequent doctor appointments and hospital visits. They're just an unproductive drain on society.