Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Roseann Catt wins at last

A notorious case.  The evidence against her was always specious to me.  She was the victim of a crooked cop

A woman has been awarded a $2.3 million payout after she was wrongly imprisoned for a decade for the attempted murder of her husband.

Roseanne Beckett, formerly Roseanne Catt, has successfully sued the state of NSW after serving the majority of a 12-year sentence.

Justice Ian Harrison awarded the $2.3 million payout, plus legal costs, for malicious prosecution in the Supreme Court on Monday morning, 26 years to the day after her arrest, according to Nine News.

‘Victory, at long last victory,’ Ms Beckett told Nine, who was in tears on Monday morning following the judgement.

She was released in 2001 after new evidence came to light, and her conviction for soliciting the murder of her ex-husband, Barry Catt, was eventually quashed in 2005 by the Court of Criminal Appeal following a judicial inquiry into allegations she was framed.

The convictions against Ms Beckett, now dropped, claimed that she had spiked drinks in her husband's office fridge with the drugs Lithium and Rivotril, according to journalist Wendy Bacon, who closely reported on the injustice throughout the decades.

Ms Beckett and the defence has maintained since her arrest on August 24, 1989, that she had been framed and the victim of a conspiracy between her husband, his friend Adrian Newell, a key witness in her conviction, and Newcastle Detective Peter Thomas.

Ahead of the case in 1989, Mr Catt had been facing charges of assaulting Ms Beckett and had a restraining order to keep clear of the family home in Taree, regional NSW. He was also acquitted for charges of sexually assaulting their children.

Ms Bacon reported allegations that Ms Beckett's arrest had been part of a successful campaign to get Mr Catt acquitted for the charges.

The Taree woman won the right to appeal for compensation on May 8 in 2013 in the High Court in Canberra, Australia's highest court.


Vindictive Qld. police

This is a disgrace

A GOLD Coast cop who allegedly blew the whistle on the brutal bashing of a young chef in the Surfers Paradise police station basement has been hit with a serious criminal charge.

While the four officers who bashed 22-year-old Noa Begic while he was handcuffed largely escaped punishment, Sergeant Rick Flori, who is accused of leaking CCTV footage of the incident to The Courier-Mail, faces up to seven years behind bars.

Sgt Flori was formally charged with misconduct in public office after being summoned to police headquarters in Brisbane yesterday.

Mr Begic was assaulted in January 2012 after being arrested for public nuisance and obstructing police.

CCTV footage, obtained by The Courier-Mail, showed him being repeatedly punched and ground into the concrete floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The video also showed a senior-sergeant washing away the blood with a bucket of water.  He quit the service before any adverse findings were made by internal investigators, while the senior-constable who threw the punches was given a suspended dismissal and is back on the beat.

The other two officers involved were not disciplined.
Video of police bashing

The charges against Mr Begic were dropped and he won a confidential settlement from the Queensland Police Service.

Sgt Flori’s home was raided by Ethical Standards Command officers.

Queensland Police Union lawyer Calvin Gnech said the 25-year veteran officer had been charged with one count of misconduct in public office, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

Emerging from police headquarters, Sgt Flori said he had been inundated with support and was “very grateful” but could not comment further.

He is believed to have been stood down with pay and is due to face Southport Magistrates Court on July 15.

Supporter Renee Eaves, who accompanied Sgt Flori yesterday, said he had been to “hell and back” and could “absolutely” lose his job.  “It’s been an awful burden on him and his family,” she said. “People are really quite outraged.’’

Ms Eaves said Mr Begic was “still not in a good way”.

After his charges were dropped in June 2012, Mr Begic said it would be “a disgrace” if the officer who leaked the video was punished.


Reaction to Mark Latham’s colourful talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival shows us to be a nation of hypocrites

Rowan Dean writes reasonably below but Latham's main offence seems to have been his use of much foul language. And whether such language deserves free speech protection has always been a subject of debate.  "If you don't like it, walk out on it" has always been the libertarian dictum and some people did just that

IF YOU can’t be foul-mouthed at a writer’s festival, then where on earth can you be?

The uproar over Mark Latham’s diatribe at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival lays bare an uncomfortable truth about modern Australia – we have become a nation of whining, craven wimps frightened of our own shadows and terrified of our own thoughts. Worse, we have become a nation of hypocrites.

We pretend that we value free speech, but we instantly take offence at anybody who disagrees with our pre-ordained, pre-packaged, homogenised “progressive” attitudes.

Sadly, I was not in the audience to witness Mr Latham’s colourful use of our mother tongue. But had I been, I imagine it would have been the highlight of the weekend.

I’m pretty certain it would have been far more entertaining, enlightening, thought-provoking, or even enraging, than sitting through hour upon of hour of turgid drivel from authors droning on about gay marriage, climate change, and the evils of Tony Abbott.

Think I’m joking? Check out the festival website. How’s this for unintentional hilarity: “Is This How You Feel? is an exhibition of 22 handwritten letters from some of Australia’s leading climate researchers, describing how climate change makes them feel.

“Written with passion instead of in dry scientific language, the letters are powerful, heartfelt and raw.” Wow! Can’t wait for the book to come out!

Or perhaps you’d prefer to join the queue for this no doubt standing-room-only session: “How do women in media deal with the pressure to look ‘good’ and behave ‘properly’?” Er, with a mirror perhaps?

No, the purpose of good writing is to use words to inspire our deepest emotions, to provoke brave new thinking, and to always challenge the status quo.

The history of literature is all about creative people who dared to break religious and sexual taboos, to rage against the mundane, and to undermine through satire the rich and the powerful.

Writing is possibly mankind’s greatest skill, and one that has permitted our species to thrive through our ability to record our own innermost thoughts and share the lessons of our histories with those who came after us.

Which is why, alongside freedom of speech, sits freedom of expression – the right to write.

Writing captures our noblest dreams, but also our darkest nightmares.

From Shakespeare to Amis, writers have turned their talent to lewd profanities, blasphemy and causing maximum offence.

A writer’s festival, rather than an anodyne collection of minor celebrities twittering on about how they “feel”, should be an explosive and volatile combustion of the use of language to convey ideas that provoke fear, pleasure, joy, terror and sadness.

If I don’t leave a writer’s festival feeling inspired, angry, tortured, frustrated, elated and jealous, then the festival has failed me.

What we publish is of course different to what we write, being confined by defamation, but we should never forget the Duke of Wellington’s admonishment to “publish and be damned!” which, intriguingly in the light of the current Ashley Madison scandal, was in response to someone threatening to expose the Duke’s affair with his mistress.

Although I haven’t seen the transcript of his speech, I have no doubt that Mr Latham managed to offend and outrage all sorts of different people in equal measure. Good. Whether you like him or not, whether you agree with his politics or not, whether you accept his point of view or not on a whole range of issues, there is no denying Mr Latham’s skill with the pen.  He is a genuinely talented writer.

And if the one thing you learn from this festival is that a skilled writer can also be a foul-mouthed hater of things you hold precious and dear, then you have learned something valuable.

Certainly more than how to put on your lippy before reading the news.


The Greens Demolition Of Tasmania

If the Greens had their way, Tasmania would not have any industry or any economy. The Greens would prefer Tasmanians to revert back to the stone age and hunt for their food

The state election in March last year saved Tasmania from becoming an Aussie version of the Amish. They came within a whisker of existing without any meaningful business and were just about forced to re-invent the horse and cart. A 12.2 per cent swing to the Liberals meant they had the first pro-business state government in years.

With the Greens sharing power, it’s Earth Hour all year round if you want to run a business. Tasmania suffered years of neglect under a Labor/Green state goverment, and the result was loss of jobs, loss of industry, loss of standards and loss of wealth.

The Greens would like to see them scavenging for seeds and berries to eat, and trading possum pelts for a living, as long as the possums had died of natural causes first. The Federal Government should have come down hard and ruled that if the state doesn’t produce anything or earn any money, there will be no welfare available. As it stands, Tasmania has the highest number of illiterates in the country and the highest per capita of people living off a government hand out.

Tasmania is rich in minerals, it has great natural resources including fisheries and farming and tourism. It is nearly the size of England with a population of 500,000. There are 23 local councils who all fight with each other and are dominated by the Greens. It’s almost impossible to run a business. The Greens simply bring in overseas “experts” or apply to some international body to stifle any development.

The trashing of the Triabunna pulp mill and its associated port on Tassie’s east coast offers an insight into the looney Green’s tactics. The mill was purchased from Gunns in 2011 by the Wilderness Society. A Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry found the mill to be a viable business and said the purchasers had a contractual obligation to keep it running. Wilderness Society boss Alec Marr and his cronies went in and wrecked the joint.

A group of businessmen wanted to develop a tourism venture by running a cable car from the top of Mt Wellington down to Hobart and then join up with an overhead tramway that would travel around the Hobart waterfront. The tramway was to be purchased secondhand from Sydney. It would have created building jobs and permanent employment. NO! said the Greens.

It’s not only in Tasmania. The Greens are out to stop all 21st century development. Christine Milne’s solution for second airport in NSW, take a train. In Victoria, scrap the East/West Link and take a train. The same people who have prospered due to human progress now want to prohibit that from the next generation. The loopy Greens are the ‘Taliban’ of the Australian economy.

The Green voter doesn’t have the intellectual capability to understand the gravity of their policies, but is more worried about gaining favour among their urban social peers because it’s cool to vote Green. The Universities are the problem, not the solution. Almost all Leftist policies emanate from radical university lecturers. Christopher Pyne should be spending his time trying to eradicate this cancer from the teaching/lecturing mob.

The demographics are that a lot of them will have a university degree, where the ability to think and reason should be highly developed. However, there are very few of them who understand the basics of maths and economics.

Tasmanians have learnt a very painful lesson and it is doubtful they will ever hold the Greens party in the esteem they once did. Unfortunately, the inner city elite on the mainland have yet to learn that painful lesson, but eventually they will be forced to acknowledge that the socialist nirvana promised by the Greens is nothing more than a mad dreamscape.

Tasmania would like to develop a new and unique export industry – shipping off the loopy Greens to their spiritual home in North Korea.


Julie Bishop cracked heads over AusAID fraud

The list of rorts sounds like a spoof on corruption in tin-pot third-world countries, and it’s what led newly ­appointed Foreign­ Minister Julie Bishop to shake up AusAID in late 2013.

The head of Papua New Gui­nea’s Law and Justice Secretariat Program gives himself and his staff a 23 per cent pay rise without authorisation, duchesses departing workmates with over-the-top payouts, and hands out contracts to companies he owns, for a fraud of Australian taxpayer dollar aid worth about $600,000.

Nearly 200 tonnes of Australian food aid reaches famine-ravaged Somalia and is handed over to the World Food Program in Mogadishu, only to be completely looted, with the program confirming the loss two years later.

Two Australian aid payments totalling $1.6 million to set up remot­e area health clinics in the Solomons are made to a company called Joke Shipping Services, which has no ships, and whose only services are to its corrupt owners, who pocket the money.

The Australian can reveal full details of many of the individual acts of fraud and corruption by which AusAID funds went astray in recent years.

Most were never reported, in part because departmental off­ic­ers advised Ms Bishop and her predecessor, Labor’s Bob Carr, to keep them hushed up.

The handwriting on the ministerial submissions obtained by The Australian through a Freedom of Information application shows that while Mr Carr, who was then a senator, simply noted the corruption, Ms Bishop was shocked and ­demanded briefings and ­action.

The corruption in the aid program­ was one of the reasons Ms Bishop decided to terminate ­AusAID as an autonomous ­agency and bring the aid operation within her department, to ­enforce a higher standard of ­accountability.

The Foreign Minister told The Australian last November that at a briefing in October 2013, soon after the Coalition had been elect­ed to office, officials told her of “a number of fraud cases under ­investigation in the Australian aid program”. She would not disclose details of the fraud cases, she said at the time, “as investigations are ongoing’’.

The FOI application has revealed­ details of seven cases of fraud in the aid program, which took place under Labor, and how Ms Bishop brought bureaucrats to heel as a result.

In a ministerial submission, dated October 25, 2013, acting Aus­AID director-general Ewen McDonald provided Ms Bishop with AusAID’s 2012-13 Fraud Control Report, listing a number of cases of corruption.

Officials wrote that “Aus­AID’s potential losses in 2012-13 from detected fraud were $706,290”, but reassured the new minister that “levels of fraud against the aid program are low”.

In the space for ministerial comment, Ms Bishop circled the “please discuss” option on the submission, and wrote: “Need to discuss­ fraud within context of proposed benchmarks. Need to discuss overview on this — $700k lost to fraud is $700k!”

Mr Carr’s reaction was quite different when he was presented with the corresponding minister­ial submission the previous year, which involved similar amounts of taxpayers’ money lost to corruption.

He simply initialled the submission, half circling the “noted” option, and did not circle the box “please discuss”.

Another ministerial submiss­ion to Mr Carr, about the suspension of a scholarship program in Afghanistan after bribery and falsification were discovered, similarly met only with a ministerial scratch on the “noted” boxes, and his initials.

By contrast, other ministerial submissions show Ms Bishop took a keen interest in individual cases of defrauded Australian aid money. On one submission on the Afghan scholarship program corruption, dated October 2013, Ms Bishop wrote “as discussed with Ewen McDonald”.

That submission detailed how two local staff members employed by aid contractor GRM Inter­national had sought bribes from prospective scholarship students.

“In one case, a relative of one of the key suspects was awarded a scholarship on the basis of falsified documents and subsequently ­absconded on arrival in Australia,” first assistant director-general Scott Dawson wrote in the submission.

Mr Dawson had written to Mr Carr in 2012 to say that AusAID “does not recommend public comment at this stage, while the detailed ­independent fraud investig­ation is being put in place”.

In February last year, when the fraud investigation report was complete, Mr Dawson recommended it “not be publicly released”, to “avoid jeopardising possible future action against former­ GRM staff”, a suggestion Ms Bishop approved.

Ms Bishop also took an interest in the PNG Law and Justice ­Secretariat rort, writing on a minis­terial submission: “Late detection?” The fraud started in January 2011, but it was not until September 12, 2013, that AusAID director-general Peter Baxter wrote to PNG National Planning Minister Charles Abel about it.

“This is now AusAID’s largest active fraud case,” Mr Baxter wrote in his letter to Mr Abel. “We do not intend to initiate any public comment on this case. But it is an important issue on which our governments should demonstrate timely action.”

Ms Bishop also took departmental officials to task over the Joke Shipping scandal. In a ministerial submission about the Solomons fraud in November 2011, she wrote: “Not clear from brief how/by whom suspected fraud was ­detected. Please advise.”

When The Australian revealed the Solomon Islands aid heist last November, departmental spokesman Jonathan Muir denied any attempt to hush it up. But Mr Muir admitted the department did not put out a press release on the theft, and while he said it was mentioned in the department’s annual report, the only reference was one line saying “the Solomon Islands government responded swiftly to a large-scale fraud in the health sector”, with no mention that the funds were provided by AusAID.

In a confidential email about the Solomons corruption dated November 6, 2013, unearthed in the FOI documents, one departmental officer told a senior official: “This information needs to be protected due to the ongoing fraud invest­igation in Solomon Islands.”

The FOI application unearthed three other cases of Australian aid money being rorted.

In East Timor in 2012, the ­finance manager and director of a local non-governmental organ­isa­tion, Fundasaun Fatu Sinai Oecusse­, allegedly “withdrew pro­gram funds for personal use” in the amount of $44,480.

Again in PNG and in the Law and Justice program, the Correctional Services finance director in 2012 overruled a recommendation from the IT manager for the purchase of computer equipment.

He then got a quotation from a different company “that was not reputable in the computer sales ­industry”, according to the ministerial submission.

The switch “points to the ­receipt of a kickback payment”, the submission says, and the fraud was put at $91,592.

And yet again in PNG, in the HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign, a subcontractor to NGO Family Health International “did not ­deliver an SMS campaign as per their contract”, with the fraud valued at $56,483.

Those were the cases Mr Dawson, who made the ruling on The Australian’s FOI request, agreed to release, with the documents heavily redacted.

It is not known how many other cases, if any, he suppressed.

Mr Dawson wrote in his decis­ion that some material “is exempt from disclosure as its release could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the commonwealth”.

The department, and Ms ­Bishop, were circumspect on the outcomes of the cases, but one ministerial submission says the PNG government paid back the nearly $600,000 in money rorted by the Law and Justice Secretariat.

The funds in the East Timor rort and the PNG HIV/AIDS cases were also recovered.

Ms Bishop would only say: “In five out of the seven cases, all amounts the subject of fraud against the commonwealth have been fully recovered.

“In the remaining two cases, action is ongoing to recover the funds subject to fraud, and to prosecute offenders.”


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