Monday, August 01, 2016

Lenient judge in prison enquiry is too lenient according to some Leftists and Aborigines

Abuse of Aboriginal women (bashing, rape etc.) in Aboriginal settlements is rife and the law in the Northern Territory does little to help them.  When cases do get to court Northern Territory judges give out only token penalties to the men concerned.  And judge Brian Martin is the chief offender in that.  Read here, here and here of his woeful record.

But it depends whose ox is gored, as the saying goes.  The Left is fine about his leniency towards Aborigines but they are steamed that he might also be lenient to white officials.  Hence the rant below

Brand-new royal commissioner Brian Ross Martin says he’s the right man to look into allegations of abuse of young prisoners at the Don Dale facility, and that neither he nor any other Supreme Court justice had any inkling of what was going on there. But that turns out not to be true. In June 2014, the NT Supreme Court upheld the not guilty verdict of a guard at Don Dale — who had been accused of assaulting none other than its now most famous inmate, Dylan Voller.

And there are other thorny questions. Tucked away at page 240 of Brian Ross Martin’s 570-page door-stop report of the Inquiry into the establishment of a Northern Territory Anti-Corruption, Integrity and Misconduct Commission is the Instrument of his Appointment, dated 14 December 2015.

Consistent with the appointment of Commissioners in similar inquiries in the NT–reference the appointment of former Federal Police Deputy Commissioner John Lawler to the NT’s Stella Maris inquiry–Brian Ross Martin’s appointment was made by the Administrator of the Northern Territory following the receipt of advice from the NT government’s Executive Council.

So far, so good.

The appointments of John Lawler and Brian Martin to their respective inquiries share another element. Below the signature of the NT Administrator on both Instruments sits another, larger and more florid signature. That signature–perhaps an affectation, perhaps adopted from a nickname–simply reads “Elf.”

Brian Martin appointment 14-12-2015

The “Elf” is Johan Wessel “John” Elferink, the NT Attorney-General and, until Tuesday this week, the NT’s Minister for Corrections at the centre of the scandal that saw him sacked by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles following the broadcast of the 4 Corners report last Monday night.

To be fair, the Elf was, as Brian Ross Martin’s Instrument of Appointment makes clear, acting on behalf of Chief Minister Adam Giles. But it was John Elferink as Attorney-General who three and a half months earlier on 26 August 2015, introduced a Motion in the NT Legislative Assembly that led to the establishment of the Inquiry he signed off on in mid-December that year. Brian Ross Martin’s report on the Anti-Corruption, Integrity and Misconduct Commission inquiry was tabled in the NT Legislative Assembly by Adam Giles on 27 June 2016, the last day of sittings for Adam Giles’ troubled minority government.

Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Brian Ross Martin–known as the “Black Prince” in some circles–had been appointed as Royal Commissioner to inquire into the NT’s youth justice system.

I’ll bet London-to-a-brick that Elferink will be called to appear before the Martin Royal Commission as a witness. Elferink’s involvement in the establishment of the anti-corruption body inquiry, and his role in the appointment of Martin as Commissioner to lead that inquiry–may well result in some uncomfortable moments in the commission–both for Commissioner Martin and for Elferink.

The NT Supreme Court website records that Brian Ross Martin continues to serve as an additional Judge of the Supreme Court of the NT since his appointment in December 2010.

None of this should be seen as a reflection on Commissioner Martin’s capacity to conduct a thorough and rigorous Royal Commission. He is widely regarded as a jurist–particularly in relation to criminal matters–of the highest order.

That does not mean that Commissioner Martin cannot misstep or mistake. His appointment has already attracted criticism and will no doubt attract more in coming days.

Aboriginal organisations in the NT have lined up to demand some role in forming the composition of the Commission and in the drafting of the Terms of Reference. There have been any number of calls for the Commission to cast a wider net and examine similar concerns about youth detention outside of the NT.

There were also early suggestions that this Royal Commission provided Turnbull with an opportunity to cast a wider net of his own in choosing a female Commissioner–former High Court Justice Susan Crennan has been mentioned–to run the Commission. And rightly or wrongly, Adam Giles will–by the appointment of an NT judge to oversee a narrowly focussed and “quick and dirty” inquiry–be seen by many as having very much got his way.

But Commissioner Martin may have already made at least one misstep. A transcript of the joint press conference held by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Attorney-General George Brandis and Commissioner Martin yesterday afternoon announcing Commissioner Martin’s appointment has this question directed to Prime Minister Turnbull.

    REPORTER: Prime Minister, given nine out of 10 children in the Northern Territory in the detention system are Indigenous and I haven’t heard the word ‘racism‘ once in the terms of reference, are you all satisfied racism doesn’t play a role here?

    BRIAN ROSS MARTIN: Look, I think it is appropriate for me to answer that question. Whether racism does or doesn’t play a role will be part of the inquiry.

It is a brave man indeed who presumes to answer for a Prime Minister.

Later a reporter posed this question of Commissioner Martin aimed directly at his familiarity with the NT and the potential for claims of bias:

    REPORTER: Given you have spent so much time in the Northern Territory in this justice space, are you concerned there may be any perception of conflict of interest?

    BRIAN ROSS MARTIN: I don’t think so. I can’t see how that would arise. There’s never been any suggestion that this sort of treatment was brought to my attention or the attention of other Supreme Court judges. I don’t see that at all. I see the advantages of a knowledge of the Territory. And to answer the question earlier, those who are disillusioned I encourage to come forward. There’s their way in to make their views and their concerns known so that they can be properly assessed, and addressed, as best we can. (emphasis added)

There is no reason to doubt Commissioner Martin’s statement–made presumably in relation to his time sitting as a judge of the NT Supreme Court–that he had not dealt with any matters involving claims of abuse of youth in detention, but in the course of his duties as a Supreme Court judge he would have invariably received pre-sentencing reports from Corrections officers and had young defendant’s before him facing serious charges.

But the underlined statement above–that concerns about the treatment of juveniles in detention had never been brought to the attention of his colleagues on the NT Supreme Court–is wrong.

As 4 Corners showed on Monday night 13 year-old Dylan Voller was assaulted while in custody at Aranda House in Alice Springs in December 2010.

Three years later, in December 2013, Derek James Tasker appeared before NT Stipendiary Magistrate Daynor Trigg in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction in Alice Springs charged with the unlawful assault of Dylan Voller, with the aggravating circumstances that Dylan Voller suffered harm, that Dylan Voller was under 16 years of age and that Derek Tasker was an adult and that Dylan Voller was unable to effectively defend himself due to age and physique.

In finding Derek Tasker not guilty as charged Magistrate Trigg held that in all of the circumstances of the case he was not satisfied that the prosecution had proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Tasker applied unreasonable and/or necessary force to Voller, leading to the conclusion that he could not find that Tasker “unlawfully” assaulted Dylan Voller.

In June 2014 the prosecution appealed to the NT Supreme Court before Justice Peter Barr, who dismissed the appeal, finding that the appellant had not established any error in Daynor Trigg’s findings or in the conclusions he reached.

Late yesterday the Northern and Central Land Councils* and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) released a statement condemning the Martin Commission as being “compromised from the start.”

AMSANT Deputy Chair Olga Havnen said that:

    The appointment of Brian Martin does not satisfy any threshold of independence.  On the facts and on perception, the appointment is unacceptable.

    Only a few weeks ago Brian Martin delivered to the NT Government a report about the establishment of a regime to investigate corruption, at the instigation of the now disgraced and former NT Corrections Minister, John Elferink.  Mr Martin accepted that commission and was paid for it, so how can Mr Turnbull boast his independence from government?

    This appointment is wrong for all manner of reasons, and Aboriginal people in the Territory will not have confidence in the appointment of Brian Martin. As Chief Justice, he sat at the apex of the NT’s justice system.  He presided over all judicial officers who sentenced young Aboriginal offenders to detention, and he knew them all; he himself sentenced juveniles to detention.


Turnbull does the right thing to block Rudd's UN bid

Rudd's own party booted him out of office -- so Turnbull should be more lenient??

There is no question that Kevin Rudd was the wrong person to be UN Secretary General. But that has never been a disqualification for consideration for political preferment. The shock is that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dispensed with the old rules and done the right thing.

"Suitability" for such a high office was his No1 consideration in declining to nominate Kevin Rudd as a candidate to lead the UN.

What a fantastic example to those actually selecting the next Secretary General.
There is a ring of hollowness to those in Labor who claim partisan politics is at play. Rudd divided the Labor caucus as much as the current Government and the public of Australia.

Turnbull points out that the Coalition renewed the term of Kim Beazley, another former Labor leader, as Ambassador to Washington. This was not about Rudd being a former Labor leader and Prime Minister.

The fact is this is all about Kevin.

You just needed to follow the public debate over the past two weeks to know that the guy remains a magnet for vitriol and conflict, not someone respected enough to be the world's top diplomat.

The public debate may have been decisive for Turnbull.
Until the debate went public, there had been a conventional wisdom that despite his failings, it would be unthinkable, even "unpatriotic" for Turnbull not to nominate Rudd.

It has reportedly been the view of Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and so Turnbull's decision was not without some cost. But it was going to be a costly decision politically either way.

The pro-Tony Abbott faction in his Government would not sit by quietly if Turnbull had given the nod to a clearly unsuitable opposing Prime Minister when he could not find a place for Abbott within his newly formed cabinet.

Assuming that merit played at least a tiny part in the selection process, Rudd stood no chance of winning the job.


Ricky Muir calls out “political correctness gone mad” after advertising watchdog upholds complaint against golliwog ad

Victorian politician Ricky Muir has come out in support of a Beechworth Sweet Co’s television advertisement that featured an animated toy golliwog, labelling a decision by the Advertising Standards Board to uphold a complaint against the ad as “political correctness gone mad.”

Muir, a representative of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party who appears unlikely to retain his Victorian Senate seat, posted a photo of him with his childhood toy golliwog named “Wally”, stating, “the sheer notion that somehow my childhood toy or mothers hobby is ‘racist’ is simply ridiculous”.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Muir says that the situation was “really political correctness gone mad” and that it was clear the advertisement was not intended to offend or hurt.

“The company had this in place for a very long time, it’s clear they mean no ill intent at all,” Muir says. “It’s very disappointing to see this very extreme measure be made.”

Muir believes that the Beechworth Sweet Co should appeal the decision by the Ad Standards Board, and also encourages the company to seek public support. “I’ve had lots of responses on social media, and many people agree that it’s nothing more than a doll and a fond childhood memory,” Muir says.

“My mother was a keen collector of golliwogs, I would go as far to say even a bit fanatical. At one point we did a count, and there were in excess of 200 dolls in the house.”

Muir says he is “disappointed” that one complaint could “stamp out the voice of the rest of the nation”.

“The people who dwell on this are those with a strong politically correct nature about them,” he says.

“It’s a childhood memory associated with fun and acceptance, as a child you don’t discriminate.”

New South Wales politician David Leyonhjelm was among those that commented on Muir’s post, expressing his support for the company’s advertisement saying it is “insane” to claim golliwogs were racist. “For those who choose to take offence by assuming it is racist, I recommend they choose another feeling,” said Leyonhjelm.

The advertisement depicts an animated version of the confectionary company’s logo, which features a number of animals and toys surrounding a lolly jar with the golliwog character reaching in.

The complainant who contacted the Ad Standards Board said the golliwog is a “racist symbol” and it had “shocked me deeply. I truly believe casual racism like this is so damaging to the community and this commercial should never be aired again,” said the complainant.

In their response to the complaint, the board agreed that the golliwog “represents a symbol that humiliates and ridicules a person on account of the colour of their skin” but clarified that the animation of the logo is the reason the advertisement was pulled down.  The board holds no jurisdiction over company logo designs.

After SmartCompany first reported on the board’s decision, a number of readers posted comments in support of the company and expressed their concerns over the board’s decision, also labelling it “political correctness gone mad.”

“I saw this complaint and immediately ordered online a quantity of sweets from the Beechworth Sweet Company. Strike back against political correctness gone mad with the most powerful weapon at your disposal – your own money,” said one commenter.

“Maybe everyone should buy a golliwog and sit it on the idiot that made this complaints doorstep. So many bad things happening in this world and they get offended by a golliwog, what a fool,” said another.

In response to the complaint, the Beechworth Sweet Co told the Ad Standards Board golliwogs “were very popular toys at the beginning of the 20th century and were characters in many children’s books.  We believe we represent gollies as part of happy childhood memories in a tasteful [and] respectful way,” the company said.

Beechworth Sweet Co has stopped the TV advertisement, pursuing “further correspondence regarding the processes and the possibility of a review”. On contacting the Advertising Standard’s Board, SmartCompany was told that there would be no public comment made until the case is resolved, implying that the company may be still pursuing a review of the decision.

Advertisers and marketers have a 10-day window to appeal board decisions after a ruling is made, and appealing costs advertisers $1000 or $2000 if they do not pay the Advertising Standards Bureau’s levy. An independent reviewer is assigned to undertake a review of the board’s decision.


How one school ditched drugs and violence to became a "grammar school"

Sounds like a big committment of personnel worked.  Would have been expensive

Just days into his new job as principal of North Geelong Secondary College, Nick Adamou was calling the cops on his students.

Students showing up to school, supposedly to do their VCE, were skipping class to deal drugs in the corridors. "When I say it was visible, I mean visible," Mr Adamou recalls.

But cleaning up the school's drug problem didn't prepare him for the challenges ahead.

In 2014, a female student was stabbed with a knife at the school, for which a fellow student was charged.

Violent and aggressive parents regularly descended on the school grounds, threatening to beat either their own children or other kids they didn't like (invariably, those from ethnic minorities).

The principal was soon in court, seeking restraining orders against the parents.

Eating an orange during an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Adamou reflects on just how far his school has come.

In the five years since he took the job, the public school has earned the reputation as a "grammar school" among locals, with the VCE completion rate leaping from 50 to 93 per cent.

Over the same period, student numbers have nearly doubled, and the school which was once avoided like the plague is now over-subscribed.

Mr Adamou believes that in revolutionising his school, he is offering a brighter future for his students. "Education is the only way out of poverty, and we do have a lot of that here," he said. "This is why I work in schools."

A Fairfax Media analysis has revealed that schools which have most improved their VCE completion rate – that is, the number of students starting their VCE in year 10 that actually finish the course in year 12 – are located in working class areas.

The most improved schools (nearly all are state schools) have improved by up to 10 per cent over the past five years. They include Carrum Downs Secondary College, Epping Secondary College and Wyndham Secondary College.

These schools are not snagging the state's top VCE marks.

But they're quietly raising the profile of their students, by boosting the number of students doing their VCE, and by extension, broadening their students' tertiary and career options.

They're doing this by offering students mentors, introducing helpful learning apps and computer programs, applying principles of "positive education" (a fusion of positive psychology and best practice teaching), and with the help of Gonski funding, investing in youth workers and education consultants.

Teaching experts also believe that the sector has experienced a "sea change" in the past decade, as younger teachers adopt a practice Melbourne University's senior lecturer in education policy, Dr Glenn Savage, called "clinical teaching".

"It's this idea of diagnosing and understanding where a young person is at, and taking them forward using strategies that are based on evidence. Across Victoria and nationally, we are seeing a difference in the way principals are trying to measure the impact of learning in the classroom."

Dr Savage said teachers are being held "more accountable" by principals and parents, for their students' results.

"Teachers are being asked to provide evidence to show how young people are going, and how the evidence can be used to plan ways forward and make improvements for those students. While this should always have been the bread and butter work of teachers, I don't think it has been."

Mr Adamou admits that he expects a lot from his staff.

As the school grew in size, he hired a fresh crop of talented teachers, and asked them to start tracking their students' performance from year 7 to year 12, in order to identify areas where students were consistently struggling.

The teachers would involve careers counsellors in the process of working with students and their parents, in helping them develop their strengths.

Mr Adamou also launched an accelerated program and a vocational course for non-English speaking students, and word quickly spread about changes at Geelong North.

Families from Golden Plains, West Geelong, Manifold Heights, Essendon, Reservoir and Dandenong started enrolling their students.

The school still has a "long way to go" in terms of achieving competitive grades, the principal said. But to have catapulted from a 50 per cent participation rate in VCE to achieving VCE marks that nudge the top ten per cent in the state, is no small feat.

"We are now concentrating especially on getting students study scores above 40. It's not going to be long, this year will be the beginning of outstanding results."

Education academic Dr Savage said there was a common misconception that teachers at poorer schools had low aspirations for their students.

While there were unfortunate cases of this occurring, he said many schools in poorer areas were being run by passionate principals and teachers who were trying to change the culture in their community.

The best teachers were continually changing their teaching methods to suit the individual needs of the students, he said. 

Richard Jones, who has been principal at Laverton College P-12 for the past 14 months, applies that principle at his school, where 30 per cent of the students are refugees from Sudan and war-torn countries in the Middle East.

These students come to class with varying levels of knowledge, and yet the school's VCE completion rate hit 100 per cent for the first time in 2014.

Mr Jones said the key was constantly seeking student feedback – asking students to rate how well they understood a lesson at the end of each class, and explain topics in their own words.

Teachers at Epping Secondary College dealt with a 30 per cent VCE drop out rate and chronic absenteeism using different strategies.

In a bid to appeal to tech savvy students, they rolled out programs called Edrolo and Your Tutor, which give students 24/7 access to teachers and tutors online. The virtual teachers answer questions and offer supplementary classes that revise class content.

The school also runs tutorials teaching about the power of positive education – a technique increasingly used by educators (including at elite private school Geelong Grammar) to encourage students to focus on their strengths and build motivation.

"A lot of students think maths is not my forte," said principal Helene Alamidis. "The philosophy of positive education is about changing that, and showing them that they can. It's about the effort that they put in, and the strategies that they put in place to achieve."


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

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