Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Pell punished for trying to aid victims
TODAY, Cardinal George Pell is giving evidence via videolink from the Hotel Quirinale in Rome to the child sexual abuse royal commission.
It is the third time he has testified to the commission - the fourth, if you count the Victorian parliamentary inquiry which preceded it. He has hardly been hiding.
And yet the point of much of the unrestrained vitriol spewed at him is that he is a coward who has refused to “come home” to testify.
But Pell, 74, has a heart complaint and has been told by doctors not to fly, a fact accepted by royal commissioner Peter McClellan after some delay, which only served to add to pressure on the star witness of the $500 million exercise.
Watching Pell is a self-invited group of about 120, including 50 journalists and assorted victims, supporters and Pell-haters who have travelled to Rome, largely on the proceeds of an abusive ditty by anti-Catholic crooner Tim Minchin, calling Pell “scum” and “coward”.
The royal commission has sent “support staff” and media people, at unknown cost, to assist this unofficial lynch mob.
It doesn’t matter that he is in frail health and will have delivered 21 hours of testimony after today’s stint.
The worst accusations are that he helped move paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale between parishes in the 1980s, when he was a junior priest in Ballarat under Bishop Mulkearns. However, as Father Eric Bryant has testified to the commission, at a 1982 meeting he attended with Pell, Mulkearns simply said Ridsdale was being moved because he had a “problem with homosexuality”.
Bryant said he didn’t link homosexuality with paedophilia and was offended by the suggestion put to him: “I know a number of clergy who are homosexual and who are the most decent people in the world... who have lived their celibacy to the letter. There’s others who have fallen weak and make mistakes but they don’t abuse children.”
Pell’s accusers must expect that he should have made that terrible link, which is ironic, because the central reason for his unpopularity is that he is a conservative priest who upholds the teaching of the Church and raised the eternal ire of homosexual activists by refusing to give them communion.
So he is fair game. But the indifference of much of the media to any semblance of fairness or legal restraint is astonishing.
The ABC has illustrated stories about Pell with images of a red toy truck, a cutout of his face glued into the driver’s side, and festooned with rocks and spiders, a blatant reference to “rock spiders”, slang for paedophiles.
On Channel 10’s the Project, Minchin debuted his vicious song in full, along with an illustration of a hollow cross with Pell inside with two altar boys.
There is no justification for this abuse of Pell in anything before the royal commission.
Pell denies the accusation that he tried to “buy” the silence of Ridsdale’s nephew and victim David Ridsdale, and at the time police were already investigating the paedophile, so there is no logic to the claim.
Anthony and Chrissie Foster, who have received $750,000 compensation from the church, accuse Pell of a “sociopathic lack of empathy” when he met them as the new Archbishop of Melbourne, to discuss the abuse of their two daughters by a priest a decade earlier.
But Pell was the most senior churchman to meet them and the first to respond with a plan to help victims, his Melbourne Response.
This is the profound unfairness of the attacks on Pell. He alone of any church leader in Australia responded to the crisis of child sexual abuse and set up a system in which claims would be investigated, counselling and compensation offered and victims would be directed to police.
He became Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 June 1996. Sick of the dithering inaction of his fellow bishops, within a month he had instructed Corrs lawyers to come up with a plan. By mid-October Peter O’Callaghan QC had been appointed the first Independent Commissioner, who went on to investigate 351 complaints of abuse, of which 97 per cent were upheld.
Pell acted with his usual decisiveness and efficiency, qualities invaluable to the Pope now as the Vatican’s top financial official, bringing integrity and transparency to Church finances.
Yet he has become the whipping boy, and even on the eve of his testimony this week, was betrayed by Victoria police who leaked vague allegations that Pell himself had sexually abused boys in the past.
This was an appalling intervention by police who are in the firing line themselves for failing to investigate complaints of child sexual abuse and for telling untruths about the church to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton claimed 43 suicides related to child sexual abuse in the Victorian Church, but, after an internal investigation, only one could be confirmed. That’s one too many, of course, but the exaggeration cast doubt on the motives of police. Ashton also claimed police had not “had a single referral of a child sexual abuse allegation by the Catholic Church’’.
Wrong. As O’Callaghan has testified, of 304 complaints, 97 were reported to police, and 76 victims he encouraged to go to police.
So pleased were Victoria police at Pell’s initiative in 1996 that they issued a press release praising the Melbourne response, and NSW police royal commissioner Justice James Wood also lauded the Catholic Church’s response then as a “model” for other institutions to follow.
For its time, Pell’s response to the child sexual abuse plaguing the church was groundbreaking. Not perfect, but it acknowledged a problem, helped victims and referred offenders to police if possible.
There is evidence, however, that Victoria police seemed to drop the ball, whether because prosecutions in those days were too difficult or for some other reason, we don’t know.
Last week, for instance, former priest and psychiatrist Dr Peter Evans told the commission he was contacted by police in 1975 about the paedophile Ridsdale, who Bishop Mulkearns had asked him to assess after an allegation of child sexual abuse had been made against him.
“The police were certainly investigating it and knew about it. The police informed me that they would not be pressing charges. However, the policeman added that they … thought, he was guilty.”
So what you have today is one potential scapegoat accusing another of covering up paedophilia, and leaking untested allegations to bolster their case.
If all the abuse heaped on him would ensure that children never again suffered sexual abuse, perhaps even Pell would say it is a cross worth bearing.
But it does the opposite. By targeting the one man who tried to do the right thing it ensures that no future church leader in their right mind would take decisive action again.
To save his own skin, Pell would have been better to leave it to the hopeless cowards and naive bumblers who had presided over the evil in the Church for so long.
Green/Left waste followed by Green/Left self-indulgence
Centuries from now future citizens will pick through the remnants of 21st century Australia. Some discoveries may puzzle them.
Why, for example, did Australians spend so much time and money building facilities for the purpose of turning salt water into fresh water?
Presumably these future folk will know that Australia didn’t actually need these devices at the time, given our usual abundant rainfall. So what was the use of all those desalination plants? Were they merely experimental? Did they have another, more practical application?
Or, like Stonehenge or Egypt’s pyramids, were they quasi-religious or spiritual monuments to some form of mystical deity?
The last answer will be close enough. Australia’s desalination plants were built in panic following warnings from former Climate Commission chief Tim Flannery that we were in danger of running out of water. “In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months,” Flannery claimed in 2007.
A couple of years ago, at the 2014 Mudgee Readers’ Festival, Flannery recalled those warnings. “Here in eastern Australia we’ve got much more variable rainfall, and I remember being asked about this at times, even by the government. I said, ‘what you should do is build a desalination plant; that’s really your last resort. Build it as an insurance policy’.
“Instead, treasury departments across eastern Australia said, ‘That’s a waste of money’.”
Desalination plants were constructed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast and a couple in Perth, at a total cost of around $12 billion. Most of that money was completely squandered, because — just like Flannery’s government-funded Climate Council — half of our nation’s desal plants have since been shut down, or at least reduced to standby status. Perth’s are still supplying water, and so is Adelaide’s, although it doesn’t need to following dam-filling rains. As of last month, the plant is running at just 10 per cent of capacity — at a cost of $1 million per day.
Sydney’s desal plant hasn’t spat out a drop since it was put on standby in 2012, only two years after it was opened. It is presently costing more than half a million dollars per day just to sit there like the world’s fattest disability pensioner while Sydney’s dams remain at more than 90 per cent of their capacity. The Gold Coast’s desal plant opened in 2009 and closed in 2010.
Thanks for all that, Professor Flannery. Undaunted by the outcome of his ridiculously expensive water worries, the great global warming hysteric has lately moved on to another field. He’s swapped desal for diesel — thousands of litres of the stuff.
Recently the Climate Council — a privatised, donation-funded version of the old Climate Commission, still with Flannery at the helm — invited concerned Australians to join the professor on a cash-raising cruise along Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast. “As part of this adventure, you will join renowned scientist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery — the Climate Council’s Chief Councillor — on the adventure of a lifetime,” the Council promises.
“Over eight days you’ll sail the breathtaking Kimberley coast in the award-winning charter vessel, Kimberley Quest, on an expedition of archaeological discovery. Best of all, by taking part in this expedition, you’ll be stepping up to help provide Australians with a vital source of correct and informed information on climate change.”
There’s no better information than informed information. As part of their climate crusade, Flannery’s ecotourists will also be supplied with a “courtesy vehicle to/from your Broome accommodation”, a “light aircraft from Broome to Mitchell Plateau” and a “return helicopter flight from Mitchell Plateau to Hunter River”, which is what you’d expect for a total cost north of $7500.
Lap of luxury and a fuel bill to boot with a scenic flight returning to the Kimberley Quest. Picture: Supplied
All of that fossil fuel incineration doesn’t exactly sit well with Flannery’s climate change message, however. And then there’s the vessel he and his mates will travel aboard. The Kimberley Quest II, to give the ship its full name, is “equipped with a helipad, spa, [and] large en-suited cabins” that “feature private ensuites, individual air-conditioning, viewing windows, mini-refrigerators and are serviced daily by your hostess.”
This sucker’s carbon footprint must be sensational. All of those airconditioners, spas and fridges don’t run on wind chimes, so the Kimberley Quest II is fitted with no fewer than four diesel-burning engines — two massive 450 horsepower Caterpillar 3406Es for propulsion and a couple of smaller Cat generators to keep the champagne chilled as you discuss the terrible threat of global warming. Get them all cranking at once and the diesel consumption rate might be around 320 litres per hour, which is why this floating Gaia-eater needs a total fuel capacity of 36,000 litres.
To put that fuel capacity into perspective, 36,000 litres of diesel is enough to run a poor African village’s electricity generator for nearly five years. The fastest Audi at last year’s Le Mans 24 hour race made it all the way to the podium after using less than 1500 litres of diesel during the entire event.
Still, I suppose Flannery’s diesel drainage is all worth it. You can never put a price on the “correct and informed information on climate change.” Unless that price is more than $7500 per customer, not including return flights to Broome, personal expenditures for laundry and tipping, compulsory travel insurance and meals not outlined in the itinerary
Labor’s Early Years Quality Fund "unfair, inequitable"
A $300 million fund to give pay rises to childcare workers, rolled out early in 2013 by Labor, has been labelled a "union slush fund" and was axed by the Abbott Government later in the same year.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said Labor’s introduction of the Early Years Quality Fund had been a shambles that had funnelled off taxpayer money in a way that gave unfair advantages to child care providers ‘in the know’.
"The Public Accounts Committee report on the EYQF paints a damning picture of Labor’s administration of the $300 million public fund. While it was claimed the policy was designed to attract more qualified people to the child care and early learning profession, the EYQF was fully subscribed in just 13 hours after applications opened.
"This report from the Public Accounts Committee echoes the findings of a 2013 PwC examination of the program and an ANAO report that found the administration and policy flaws Labor built into the EYQF meant it was inherently unfair, inequitable and drove a greater pay divide in the sector.
"Labor’s EYQF was a pre-election splurge splashed during the caretaker period and based on wage schedules designed by the United Voice Union.
"The PwC report was particularly scathing of the way Labor used the EYQF ‘as a vehicle to increase membership in United Voice’ [Union] with unionised EBAs in the child care sector quadrupling from 100 to 400 despite only 30 per cent of long day care staff being eligible for the Labor fund.
"Sadly the EYQF isn’t the only short-sighted policy-on-the-run legacy from Labor. Their 2008 increase in the Child Care Rebate from 30 to 50 per cent, without a check on what providers could charge, has seen child care fees accelerate for families while taxpayers have had to wear soaring costs.
"The EYQF demonstrates another example of Labor’s failure in child care policy and once again prove they cannot be trusted to provide fair, affordable and transparent child care for Australian families."
Sydney uni students to investigate wrongful convictions
In as little as three months from now, a handful of Sydney university students may have enough evidence to exonerate a prisoner who claims they were wrongfully convicted.
When the academic year begins next month, a handpicked class of undergraduate students from the university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over court files, police interviews, eyewitness testimonies and trial recordings for course credit.
Their efforts are part of a new initiative – the Sydney Exoneration Project – which is based at the University of Sydney and will assess Australian cases of suspected wrongful convictions through the lens of forensic psychology.
A class of undergraduate students from Sydney university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over ...
A class of undergraduate students from Sydney university's law and psychology schools will spend a semester poring over court files, police interviews etc for the project. Photo: Edwina Pickles
"If a miscarriage of justice has taken place we want to right that but, the bigger picture is that we want to make changes in the legal system and address certain aspects that can be improved," founder and director of the project Dr Celine van Golde said.
Dr van Golde, who set up the project in March last year, said a team of legal professionals and forensic psychologists had spent several months rigorously reviewing applications from people convicted of serious crimes across Australia, before selecting one for the upcoming course.
"The cases we look are the most severe crimes. From murders to anything for which you go to jail for a long time."
Confidentiality issues prevented Dr van Golde from discussing the case that would be examined by students, but she said the applicant had contacted the project after watching a documentary on forensic psychology.
"[They] said 'this is exactly what happened in my case and said I'm innocent and wrongfully convicted'."
While innocence projects have a well-established role in the United States, where mass incarceration has resulted in extraordinary rates of wrongful convictions, the Australian criminal justice system is equally susceptible to mistakes, she said.
"We need a project like this because mistakes are being made and wrongful convictions do happen. We know that from the case studies we've seen around Australia [that] it would be ignorant to think it wouldn't happen here."
There have been a number of high profile wrongful convictions and subsequent exonerations in NSW.
In November last year, Roseanne Beckett was awarded $4 million in damages by the NSW Supreme Court for her wrongful conviction of plotting to kill her husband Barry Catt in 1991. She served 10 years of a 12-year sentence before she was exonerated in 2001.
Alexander McLeod-Lindsay was exonerated 26 years after he was found guilty in 1965 of the attempted murder of his wife in their Sydney home. He had already served nine years in jail and had been paroled by the time new DNA analysis exonerated him.
While innocence projects typically centred around re-examining DNA evidence, Dr van Golde said the Sydney project would uniquely focus on the role of forensic psychology in wrongful convictions.
"The number one reason people are wrongfully convicted – in 72 per cent of cases – is mistaken identification. These are eyewitnesses who have identified the perpetrator but it later turns out they identified the wrong persons."
False confessions and false memories – also leading factors behind wrongful convictions – were key research topics within forensic psychology.
"That's why it's so important we involve it. That's the main aim and main focus of our project."
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here