Sunday, July 13, 2014

Judge compares incest and paedophilia to past attitudes towards homosexuality, claiming they might not be taboo anymore

A Sydney judge has compared incest and paedophilia to homosexuality, saying the community may no longer see sexual contact between siblings and between adults and children as “unnatural” or “taboo”.

District Court Judge Garry Neilson said just as gay sex was socially unacceptable and criminal in the 1950s and 1960s but is now widely accepted, “a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner”.

He also said the “only reason” that incest is still a crime is because of the high risk of genetic abnormalities in children born from consanguineous relationships “but even that falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion”.

Judge Neilson made the extraordinary and bizarre comments in the case of a 58-year-old man, known for legal reasons as MRM, who is charged with repeatedly raping his younger sister in the family’s western Sydney home in 1981.

The man had earlier pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when she was 10 or 11 years old in 1973 or 1974 after police recorded a telephone conversation between the siblings in July 2011 in which he admitted to having sexual contact with her when she was “a kid”.

But he has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual intercourse without consent, with an alternative charge of incest, regarding the 1981 events.

On April 7 a jury was empanelled and the Crown Prosecutor requested the jurors be told of the earlier misconduct to show MRM had a tendency to have a sexual interest in and have sexual intercourse with his sister.

The Crown argued that without the background information, the jury might find it hard to understand why MRM began raping his sister “out of the blue” and why she did not report it to her parents or police.

In the mid-1970s MRM had warned her not to tell their parents because they had just lost another son in a car crash and she remained fearful of upsetting her parents when the abuse recommenced in 1981.

But Judge Neilson refused to admit the evidence, saying the sexual abuse which had occurred when the girl was 10 or 11 and the youth was 17 occurred in a different context to the sex which happened when she was 18 and he was 26. By 1981, she had had sexual relationships with two men and had a young child.

“By that stage they are both mature adults. The complainant has been sexually awoken, shall we say, by having two relationships with men and she had become ‘free’ when the second relationship broke down,” Judge Neilson said.

“The only thing that might change that is the fact that they were a brother and sister but we’ve come a long way from the 1950s … when the position of the English Common Law was that sex outside marriage was not lawful.”

He went on to say incest only remains a crime “to prevent chromosomal abnormalities” but the availability of contraception and abortion now diminishes that reason.

“If this was the 50s and you had a jury of 12 men there, which is what you’d invariably have, they would say it’s unnatural for a man to be interested in another man or a man being interested in a boy. Those things have gone.”

On Tuesday Crown Prosecutor Sally Dowling SC asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to remit the case to a judge other than Judge Neilson because of the "misogynistic" attitude he displayed towards the complainant.  “These remarks in my submission are completely disgraceful,” Ms Dowling said.  "The reference to abortion is particularly repellent.”

Justices Arthur Emmett, Derek Price and Elizabeth Fullerton reserved their decision.

Adults Surviving Child Abuse president Dr Cathy Kezelman said: "To equate homosexuality, incest and the crime of child sexual assault is as ill-informed as it is outrageous. For it to be paraded by a Judge in Australia in 2014 during the time of the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse, or at any time, is beyond belief. Literally thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse have given testimony before the commission of the decades of damage their abuse has caused," Dr Kezelman said.

"The relational betrayal of the horrors of incest between a brother and sister of any age is abhorrently criminal. Failure to understand that prior abuse disempowers the victim establishing the ground for future assaults is ignorant. This together with referring to a sibling as being sexually ‘free’ or ‘available’ demands strict censure."

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston called for Judge Neilson to step down from the bench for "ludicrous and obscene remarks".  "These comments are offensive to every child, every victim, every homosexual person in this country."

Ms Johnston also called on the case to be referred to the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


How Tony Abbott can win over the new Senate

 Peter Reith

Prime Minister Tony Abbott can’t afford to let the Senate get away with shredding the budget. He will need all his political skills to get through the new Senate session. And if he botches it, he will dismay his supporters.

The public expect politicians to be good at politics. Politicians need to be every bit as good at politics as they are at running the country and the economy.

Abbott can’t afford to say, as he did last week: “Eventually - if not at the first attempt or even the second - this budget will pass, because no one has put up a credible alternative.’’

The fact that opposition MPs have no credible alternative does not mean that the Senate will miraculously bow low and give Abbott the budget.  Oppositions often avoid alternatives - the current government avoided policy options in the lead-up to the 2010 and 2013 elections.  It’s not realistic to think that Abbott will have a better chance of securing the budget on a second attempt or third. In some cases, for example the proposed pension indexation, it will get harder, not easier, to legislate as the next election looms.

As at today, it looks like there will be a big hole in the budget. The opposition disingenuously says there is no problem with more spending and more debt, but nothing will dissuade them from their attacks on Abbott. The big problem for Abbott is that without some wins from the budget his supporters will start to lose hope that he can turn around and then redress Labor’s dysfunctional economic management. The buck stops with the PM.  Despite a number of wins on other policies including stopping the boats, the big question is the ability to make progress on fiscal policy in the next few months.

So this week’s Senate session start is Abbott’s first big test.

I faced a not dissimilar test in the early days of the Howard government. Industrial relations was a key plank of our 1996 policy. We hammered Paul Keating on issues such as unfair dismissal all the way to election day.

Like today's government, we did not have control of the Senate. I spent 50 hours negotiating with the Democrats to secure our IR reforms. My colleague Robert Hill told me the Democrats would be impossible to deal with. But in the end, we forged an agreement in writing and the legislation passed in record time.

For the Howard government, it proved for the first time that we could successfully implement a major policy and that we could also manage the Senate. We didn't get everything we wanted but we got most of it. Critically we established a working relationship with the Senate, which later paved the way for other big issues including the goods and services tax (GST). Abbott needs to show that he can make progress. The repeal of the carbon tax and the mining tax will be signature reforms but he needs to make headway on fiscal policy.

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit this week, Abbott will be busy - but he needs to start now. He knows how to negotiate: in his first policy job as a junior employment minister he successfully put together a tricky set of reforms through discussion and negotiation. He could do the same with the three crossbench senators - NSW Liberal Democratic Party’s David Leyonhjelm, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts' Ricky Muir and Bob Day of Family First - who are publicly saying they want to talk.  Leyonhjelm wants some deregulation of childcare. It sounds like Abbott’s policy anyway so why not? Muir wants to be sensible, so be imaginative and find something for him. And Day would like something on industrial relations so why not throw aside the government’s IR reluctance and offer to work to cut youth unemployment, which is one of Bob’s key objectives.

Abbott has advantages in dealing with the Senate. He has so many things in the budget that he could easily shift a few around. Some proposals will need to be dropped. If he doesn’t have the numbers for the pension change he could offer to drop it and thereby give Palmer a win as part of a package.  In my opinion the Coalition will not go to the next election promising a reduction in pensions so why not be realistic and drop it now but get something in return? Instead of being pushed, why not do a triple pike and demonstrate political flexibility? 

The hardest part is dealing with the Greens. At least we know that they will do anything for a deal, as demonstrated when they participated with Al Gore when he went along with no carbon tax repeal and no effective ETS. The Greens want something on the environment and the public is interested in environmental protection so the government might start with what the voters want and work from there.

It’s not easy to reconcile the irreconcilable but it’s time to make a start.


NSW government reveals first Millers Point public housing properties to be sold off

Public housing residents have been evicted as the first of the 293 government-owned properties at Millers Point and The Rocks go under the hammer within the next few months.

The sale of the first six heritage properties will test the waters in what real estate agents say could become some of Sydney's priciest and most exclusive harbourside suburbs of the future. Similar freehold properties have sold for as much as $3 million each.

The six properties will be auctioned, and the public housing residents in these properties will be relocated, the NSW government announced Saturday. The marketing of the properties will begin next week.

Justifying the eviction of many tenants who have lived in the properties for their lifetimes, ministers said today the sale would reinvest millions of dollars back into the state's social housing system.

For every house sold in Millers Point, the government would "build three houses in many other suburbs of Sydney," the Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, and Minister for Finance and Services, Dominic Perrottet, said in a statement.

"While we are very conscious that this involves relocating tenants who live in these properties, a tough decision had to be taken that will benefit far more people in need of housing assistance," said Ms Upton.

"It simply is not fair to the 58,000 applicants on the social housing waiting list for the government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining properties which are not suitable for public housing."

Of the 293 government owned properties, 214 are heritage listed. The government claims it would cost as much as $100 million to restore and maintain the properties. The average maintenance bill of each property averages around $14,500 a year, compared with $3,000 to $3,500 across the rest of the state.

The sale of the properties is expected to rapidly gentrify one of Sydney's oldest and grittiest neighbourhoods. An agent who has sold former public housing previously told Fairfax Media that once it was gentrified "it will be such an exclusive suburb,''

Di Jones agent Andrew Stewart said. ''I don't know of an area in Sydney at all that would have the attributes of the housing of this area. You are right on the waterfront but also a short walk to the CBD, ferries just down the street. Maybe Kirribilli is similar, but most of Kirribilli is apartments.''

Mr Perrottet said the sales would test the market, but wouldn't be rushed.

"The properties in Millers Point are of important historical significance for the people of NSW and we don't want to rush the planning or the sales processes," he said.

He said the process of relocating tenants was being done with "sensitivity and compassion." A Tenant Relocation Team was "going to great lengths to satisfy their specific requests."

Three of the six properties are located in Dawes Point, and the rest are in Millers Point. Tennants of the six properties have already been relocated.


So-called protectors the real marine polluters

LISTEN to the Greens, Labor or their broadcast arm, the ABC, and you might think the biggest threats to the pristine waters of north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef came from the mining industry and the ships that serve our export industry.

Dig a little deeper though and you will find it is the ecoterrorist group Sea Shepherd, a darling of the Leftist media, that has been fouling our northern waters.

Not that you would know about it if you were wedded to the taxpayer-funded broadcaster, Fairfax or the other news services which pander to the group. Yet it was Sea Shepherd Ltd, whose Australian arm is chaired by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which was found guilty of pouring up to 500 litres of diesel into the Trinity Inlet, the mangrove-lined estuary which serves as the port to the city of Cairns, and fined $15,000 last month for marine pollution.

Another case of do what I say, not what I do, for the global green movement. According to court records, Sea Shepherd’s ship New Atlantis pumped diesel fuel into the harbour as the ship was moored alongside the Cairns wharf on October 13, 2012.

It was claimed that a crew member failed to manually flick the “low level” switch during a fuel transfer, despite being aware the switch was faulty.

The court was told Sea Shepherd Australia, which had only recently taken possession of the ship and brought it from Japan a week earlier, had yet to translate signage and manuals or repair the switch.

Crew members had been given basic handover information but the chief engineer had to work out the ship’s systems “by his own devices” due to instruction manuals and other materials all being in Japanese.

All crew members were volunteers and were either German, Dutch or American. Fortunately, a member of the public noticed diesel flowing into the sea and after unsuccessfully attempting to alert crew members notified the master of a ship moored alongside who boarded the New Atlantis and notified its crew.

“She noticed a strong smell of diesel fuel and saw liquid running from the New Atlantis into the water,” the court document read.

“The smell was so strong the passer-by had to put a jumper over her nose ...”

Magistrate Kevin Priestly called the amount “not insignificant” and questioned why a crewmen carried out the fuel transfer and not the chief engineer. No conviction was recorded against Sea Shepherd and the group was given six months to pay.

While Sea Shepherd’s polluting activities were not reported by some, every accusatory claim made by the Greens about the development of the deep water Abbot Point harbour has been unquestioningly repeated, even though they have been baseless


1 comment:

Paul said...

Unless the good Judge has something in his own closet that needs some kind of justification, then his comments fail the simple test of 'consenting adults'. Of course some cultures that we aren't allowed to criticize have been mating first cousins for generations, hence all the blood and neuromuscular diseases that turn up in said cultures (who wouldn't countenance abortion anyway).