Saturday, August 27, 2016
Homosexual judge dislikes democracy
The people might vote the "wrong" way
Former High Court justice Michael Kirby says a plebiscite on same-sex marriage will create a dangerous political precedent in Australia where MPs avoid making decisions on controversial issues, instead opting for unnecessary and expensive popular votes.
The government is expected to try to pass enabling legislation for a nationwide plebiscite in coming weeks, before a possible vote in February asking Australians if they agree people of the same sex should be allowed to marry.
But Justice Kirby, who served at the High Court from 1996 until 2009, said plebiscite votes were "alien" to Australia's system of representative democracy and the campaign would drive hatred and abuse towards gay and lesbian Australians.
He said Australian voters had rarely supported referendum questions and there was no reason a plebiscite would be any different.
"It will mean any time that there is something that is controversial, that's difficult for the parliamentarians to address or they don't want to address, they'll send it out to a plebiscite.
"I think that's a very bad way. Our Parliament, our parliamentary institutions in Australia and elsewhere are really not working all that well at the moment and what we should be doing is strengthening Parliament and ensuring it gets on with the job," Justice Kirby told ABC radio.
Justice Kirby – who has lived with his partner Johan van Vloten for 47 years – said Britain's Brexit vote had showed unexpected outcomes were possible.
"This is going to be, if it goes ahead ... running out the old issues of hatreds and animosities, abominations and all the old arguments against gay people.
"We didn't do this for the Aboriginal people when we moved to give equality in law to them, we didn't do it when we dismantled the White Australia policy ... we didn't do it in advances on women's equality, we didn't do it most recently on disability equality.
"Why are we now picking out the LGBT, the gay community? It's simply an instance of hate and dislike, hostility to a small minority in our population. It's unAustralian."
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the government hadn't broken a promise to hold the plebiscite in 2016 but AEC advice had strongly recommend against a vote this year.
"We always said it would be held as soon as possible, so our commitment hasn't changed," he said.
"We always said when talking about this commitment, that we would want to do it as soon as possible, as soon as practicable, as soon as we can, also recognising that legislation would always first need to pass the Parliament," he said.
Turnbull slams Baird ban on greyhound racing
Malcolm Turnbull criticised the NSW Liberal government at a private dinner in Perth for shutting down the greyhound industry, suggesting the shock move was an “over-reaction”.
As the industry in NSW reels from Premier Mike Baird’s decision to end the sport, The Australian can reveal the Prime Minister expressed concern about the move, legislated this week through the Greyhound Racing Prohibition bill.
MPs who attended a dinner with Mr Turnbull at the Chophouse steak restaurant early this month have told The Australian the Prime Minister expressed the view that closing down the industry in response to animal-welfare concerns was not a proportionate response.
He is understood to have told MPs he believed outrage over treatment of rabbits used in live baiting — a key reason for the industry losing political support — was surprising, given that rabbits were a feral pest and were regularly shot and poisoned.
It is understood Mr Turnbull expressed his “surprise” and “concern” at Mr Baird’s decision to ban the sport in response to issues raised during a commission of inquiry into the NSW greyhound racing industry.
“He was critical of the decision and the message was, ‘If we are shutting down an industry on the basis of what happens to rabbits, well, we are not very nice to rabbits in this country; they are a pest’,” one MP said. “It was Malcolm Turnbull the farmer talking.”
Another MP made clear that Mr Turnbull was not indicating support for live baiting, but confirmed he had criticised how the state government had handled the issue.
The special commission of inquiry claimed it had found evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting. The report, which drew on material which has been heavily contested, said the state’s industry had “fundamental animal welfare issues, integrity and governance failings that cannot be remedied”.
Under the new legislation, anyone caught organising a race faces a one-year jail sentence and a maximum $11,000 fine.
The proposed laws did not win uniform support from within the NSW government, with state Nationals MPs Katrina Hodgkinson, Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Humphries choosing to side with Labor to oppose the controversial bill.
Another MP at the dinner, which took place on the eve of the WA Liberal conference on August 5, said there were few federal parliamentarians who supported the Baird government’s decision, and they were pleased that Mr Turnbull “got it”.
Mr Baird said in July that “as a humane and responsible government” he had no choice but to shut down the industry.
Fremantle’s fireworks cancellation ‘likely to cause more division’: Ben Wyatt
FREMANTLE’S decision to cancel its Australia Day fireworks for a more culturally sensitive approach is “likely to cause more division”, indigenous Labor MP Ben Wyatt says.
Council’s decision on Wednesday night divided opinions across the nation on Thursday on social media.
Labor’s Treasury spokesman took to Twitter on Thursday night to claim City of Fremantle’s controversial decision would do nothing for reconciliation.
“The (relationship) between Aboriginal people and Aust Day is profound. Cancelling fireworks a facile response and likely to cause more division,” he said.
“Cancelling popular events in the name of reconciliation does not advance the cause. “If its because of cost, then call it cost.”
But Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt was quick to respond, saying the council’s decision was all about inclusion, not cost saving.
“Ben. Agree this conversation should head towards inclusion not division but it’s a conversation elders in Freo want us to have,” he said.
“Just to be clear, this is not as all about cost saving. All of fireworks budget will go towards new more inclusive events.”
Wind Power Obsession Sends South Australians Back to the Stone Age
Amidst the panic and chaos being experienced by the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers – due to the unfolding and inevitable wind power calamity in South Australia – one of the newly invented catchphrases is “transition”.
It’s a term now employed by wind spinners, dimwitted politicians and gullible journalists; and is often coupled up with lines such as “interconnectors”; “rapidly improving battery technology” and “gas”. Gas, apparently, is now seen as a “transition” fuel to a … ahem … fossil fuel free future and the interconnectors proposed would connect to coal-fired plant currently chugging away in Victoria and New South Wales [note to Ed is this ‘pure irony’?]
Last time we took a peek at the climate-calamatists’ websites, gas was right up there with coal as the source of all peril and evil on earth, so we’re not sure that the Chicken Littles will buy the line about gas being anything other than a ‘spawn-of-the-Devil’ fossil fuel.
And adding ‘fuel’ to the fire, the gas destined for this “transition” isn’t going to be used in highly efficient Combined Cycle plants, but squandered in gas-thirsty and highly inefficient Open Cycle plants that emit 3-4 times the CO2 per MWh of a modern coal-fired plant.
Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) are literally jet engines, run on gas or fuel oil (diesel) or kerosene. The initial capital outlay is low, but their operating costs are exorbitant – depending on the fuel input costs (the gas dispatch price varies with demand, for example) operators need to recoup upwards of $300-400 per MWh before they will even contemplate firing them into action. For a wrap up on “fast-start-peakers” see this paper: Peaker-Case-Histories As to the insane cost of running them, see this article: OPEN GAS CYCLE TURBINES: Between a rock and a hard place
And the line about “transitioning” to a wind powered future with “rapidly improving battery technology” comes sprinkled with a fair dose of pixie dust: nowhere in the world is there an example of grid-scale electricity storage using batteries (of any description); not in Germany; not in Spain; not in Denmark; not in California; not in South Australia – or anywhere else stupid enough to attempt to run on sunshine and breezes.
Now that the mainstream press have caught up with the energy disaster that is South Australia, journos are, for the first time in their lives, starting to grapple with the tricky concept of electricity generation: terms such as “load following”; “frequency control”; and “grid balancing” are starting to find their way into the pages of the Australian Financial Review and The Australian.
These aren’t just fancy nouns and verbs of recent invention, they go right to the heart of whether customers at the thinnest end of an electricity grid get to enjoy electricity on demand, or at all.
What media hacks are starting to understand is that there is a world of difference between the quality of electricity produced by conventional generation sources; and that thrown occasionally into the grid by a wholly weather dependent source, abandoned centuries ago, for pretty obvious reasons – eg, SA’s wind farm’s efforts in April:
It’s not just a question of delivering power when and where it’s needed; frequency control is a matter that determines whether a grid functions at all (see our post here).
Where the chaos and intermittency of wind power destabilises the grid (see our post here), it’s down to conventional generation sources that can ramp up output at the press of a button to keep the grid alive: “reactive power” that allows for the 50Hz frequency of the grid to be controlled and maintained around close tolerances.
In a place like South Australia, where wind power capacity tops 40% of its entire generating capacity, every time a breeze turns to a zephyr, voltage and frequency drops, which requires an instantaneous response from coal or gas-fired generators (hydro is exceptionally good at responding in an instant) – with recent efforts to rely on the chaotic delivery of wind power, those selling power for frequency control and load following now recoup a very solid premium for their service.
Remove that class of generator from the system and the wind cultist and his fellow travelers are soon left tossing chaff about the wonders of wind, while sitting freezing in the dark.
Probe launched into wrongful conviction of Sudanese refugee jailed over Edward Spowart murder
Released on the grounds of insufficient evidence
The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions has launched an inquiry into a miscarriage of justice that saw a young Sudanese refugee wrongly convicted of murder.
The family of the young man, who spent almost seven years in prison for a crime they insist he did not commit, say their experience in the justice system has destroyed their faith in the rule of law in Australia.
"What has happened to my nephew is something unbelievable," the refugee's uncle told the ABC. "He's an utterly broken man."
The conviction of the Sudanese boy, known only as JB, was quashed in late April by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.
The teenager had been convicted in 2009 of murdering western Sydney man Edward Spowart and sentenced to 23 years in jail.
In submissions to the NSW Supreme Court, the NSW Attorney-General said the Crown prosecutor as well as the prosecuting solicitor, and investigating police had all failed to reveal to the defence that the key witness who implicated JB in the stabbing murder was a registered police informant.
The Crown Prosecutor during JB's trial was experienced barrister Terry Thorpe. However, the court made no findings about who within the prosecution knew about the status of the police informant, when they knew, or exactly what they had been told by police.
The failure to disclose the crucial evidence is now being criticised not just by the young man's family, but also by a retired Supreme Court judge.
The CCA said in its April judgment that JB's trial had miscarried because of "failures of the prosecuting authority".
According to the Attorney-General's submissions, the Crown Prosecutor and his instructing solicitor had met with A107, but notes of that meeting provided to the defence "appear to have been edited" and did not mention that A107 was a police informer.
It is not known who edited the notes, however, the submissions raise questions about who in the prosecution knew about A107's status and why it was not disclosed.
Registered informants receive benefits for their assistance to police and are often given discounted sentences in their own criminal matters.
A spokesperson for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb told the ABC a probe was underway. "This matter is being reviewed internally and accordingly it is not possible to provide any comment at this stage," the spokesperson said.
The NSW Police are also conducting an internal investigation into its role in the matter. In a statement, the force said: "As a result of the acquittal of JB, NSW Police Force has become aware of the apparent non-disclosure connected with the matter.
"NSW Police Force will have to conduct its own investigation and until such time that is concluded it is not appropriate to make comment on specific issues concerning the matter.
Now, the retired Supreme Court judge who rejected a 2012 appeal by JB against his conviction, Anthony Whealy QC, has spoken out to express his concern, saying that, if substantiated, the failure of disclosure would be a "serious dereliction of duty" on the part of the prosecution. "It's a terrible situation where this man has spent nearly seven years in jail as a consequence of a confession that should never have been allowed into evidence," Mr Whealy said.
Mr Whealy said he would have acquitted JB in 2012 if he had known the key witness was a registered police informant. "I'm quite sure that had we known those facts … the appeal would have taken a completely different course," Mr Whealy said. "That course would have resulted in the conviction being set aside and more than likely a verdict of acquittal being entered on behalf of this young man who has needlessly spent all these years in jail."
The ABC submitted detailed questions to Mr Thorpe. In response, the Crown prosecutor said he had no comment.
JB was sentenced to 23 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 16 years, for the stabbing murder of Edward Spowart. Mr Spowart, 54, was killed in April 2008 during a fight between two groups of young men in the south western Sydney suburb of Granville.
He was not participating in the fight, in which the two groups of men armed themselves with sticks, bricks and street signs.
He was standing by the side of the road carrying a plastic shopping bag when he was stabbed in the stomach, thigh and trunk.
JB, aged 15 at the time, was initially arrested for affray over the incident.
When police seek to interview juveniles, the child must be supplied with a youth support person. When JB was in custody in April 2008, detectives called in a support person who is now known only as A107.
The man entered JB's cell for a private conversation, and after he emerged he told police that the 15-year-old had confessed to stabbing Spowart.
"It was the key plank in the prosecution's case," Mr Whealy said. "The prosecution relied on it even to the absence of other evidence to convict the young person."
A107 avoided jail on fraud charge after police cooperation
In 2014, defence barristers unearthed sensational fresh evidence which revealed the youth support person A107 was a registered police informant.
At the time, he told police JB had confessed to stabbing Spowart, A107 was himself facing charges of having defrauded victims of $40,000.
Police later swore an affidavit that laid out the assistance A107 had given police in the JB case, among others.
Largely as a result of A107's assistance to police, he avoided jail and received a suspended sentence.
Prominent Sudanese lawyer Deng Adut said he had visited JB in prison in the years before he was acquitted. "He told me clearly that he did not kill that man," Mr Adut said.
"He didn't have a knife. He didn't even have anything in his hand. He had nothing in his hand. He never did anything."
In its April judgment, the CCA ruled that without the evidence of A107 that JB had confessed to stabbing Edward Spowart, the prosecution had insufficient evidence to conduct a retrial.
The judges said the case had been a miscarriage of justice. "The trial of JB miscarried because of failures on the part of the prosecuting authority," the judgement said.
"These consisted of an inadequate investigation of the position of A107 and an inadequate disclosure of that position to the defence. "There was no conduct on the part of JB which contributed to the mistrial."
The trial hinged on the evidence of the police informant. The ABC understands that Merrylands detectives never recovered the murder weapon.
The ABC has been told their investigations ceased after the alleged confession was obtained.
It was also revealed in the CCA that the defence lawyer who was on the record as acting for JB, Robert Kaufmann, was also acting for the police informer A107 in his criminal case.
Mr Kaufmann attended the first day of the trial but afterwards relied on a junior solicitor at his firm to defend JB.
Mr Kaufmann said he was unaware A107 was a registered informant and rejected any conflict of interest. "I reject any suggestion that I acted under a conflict of interest in relation to matters for JB, either before his trial, during his trial or for his initial appeal," Mr Kaufmann said.
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