Monday, March 18, 2019

Trial gag put Pell at a disadvantage

On Wednesday, I, like many others, listened to the sentencing of Cardinal George Pell. The details of the crimes for which he has been convicted were disgusting.

These are now on the internet — forever. Even if Pell is exonerated on appeal, these details remain. That is why his defence team did not want the details broadcast.

What is worse, because the proceedings of the trial were suppressed to protect the validity of a possible second separate trial, only people present at the trial, or in constant touch with those that were, knew what happened.

Furthermore, the evidence of the complainant — which, as judge Peter Kidd said, was the only evidence that convicted Pell — was taken in camera.

As the trial itself was not reported on, it seems strange to allow the details of the sentencing to be broadcast, especially as an appeal is pending. However, it seems the decision was taken partly because the judge was understandably unwilling to unleash once more the type of speculation that followed the trial.

It was clear from his remarks that the judge took into account the unique circumstances surrounding the case, especially the amount of vilification Pell endured for years before the trial, and after the verdicts, as a symbol of the Catholic Church. That his remarks about the crimes were parenthesised by his comments on the “witch hunt” and “lynch-mob mentality” against Pell is significant. Even though he properly instructed the jury to ignore this, many of Pell’s supporters still wonder: How could they?

With the details of the crimes made public in the sentencing, the vilification will be even more virulent, and the fact Pell’s conviction is under appeal will be deemed irrelevant.

So the decision to invoke a suppression order on the trial, prompted by a threat of undermining another trial on different charges, has actually worked against Pell and heightened the shock over his conviction and the details revealed in the broadcast of the sentencing.

Interestingly, Kidd rejected the “moment of madness” defence, while at the same time clearly stating that there was no grooming, no prior convictions or any offence since, nor any suggestion of a pattern of behaviour that is classic in pedophiles.

However, the narrative about the cardinal has already shifted from what was presented in the trial to every possible peccadillo of a convicted child abuser, including unsubstantiated lurid accusations in The Age alleging Pell’s “homosexual orgies” in a seminary.

The conviction has triggered the most serious confusion among many ordinary Catholics. It is palpable, and frankly many of my co-religionists do not believe Pell has done these things. Many others are only too willing to condemn him as a vile child abuser, a hypocrite who covered up for the church by setting up an internal system to deal with complaints and, what is more, was the face of the church’s “conservative” wing.

It seems that for many in the church it is almost compulsory to condemn the cardinal in order to distance themselves from the abusers. And arguments about the trial are split on political lines.

But many within the legal establishment point to a decidedly shaky conviction, the lack of substantiated evidence of any wrongdoing and, rather, evidence that pointed to an acquittal because of the physical impossibility of the crimes.

The first was supposed to have taken place in the priests’ sacristy within six minutes after an episcopal Sunday mass while Pell was fully vested and in his regalia, and the second in a corridor while he was in procession after a Sunday mass, presumably in full view of everyone else in that procession.

As the judge stressed, the jury found the cardinal guilty on the word of one complainant. The other boy died of a heroin overdose after telling his mother he was never abused. There was not a single witness who could back up the complainant. On the contrary, there were witnesses appearing for the prosecution who attested that they were usually with Pell. They included Monsignor Charles Portelli, the sacristan Max Potter, and several former altar servers.

Even the magistrate in the committal hearing who sent the cardinal to trial noted that “if a jury accepted the evidence of Mons. Portelli and Mr Potter … then a jury could not convict”.

So, how did these convictions come about? There was a strong feeling, expressed even in the public gallery and now in the letters pages of newspapers, that “even if he didn’t do it he was ‘the boss’ of the show”.

And there is another problem that compounds the reaction of many people: surprise.

The suppression order meant that quite suddenly the public learned that a man who had been the subject of a relentless character assassination, and who was thought of as a flinty, uncaring churchman, was now a convicted pedophile.

His conviction on these charges is conflated in the public mind with his conduct during the royal commission.

It has been overlooked that he didn’t have to return to face these criminal charges, even though Victoria Police set up a task force two years before there was any complaint against him.

Despite this, most of the accusations that Victoria Police wanted to inflate to criminal charges have been thrown out.

The most infamous of these is the so-called swimmers’ charges, which is the reason that the original trials were suppressed.

It was the centrepiece of a ­series of stories on ABC TV by Louise Milligan, also the author of a damaging book published before the trial.

Subsequent to the guilty ­verdict in the cathedral charges, the swimmers’ charges did not proceed.

But they had already done their damage by serving as the trigger for the suppression of the details of the cathedral charges.


One million Australians work two jobs, new figures reveal

More than one million clock on to two workplaces, according to a Labor analysis of official figures.

In the December quarter the number of secondary job holders rose by 3.3 per cent according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures, opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said today.

That would mean close to eight per cent of the 12.7 million working Australians need two wages.

The figure comes on top of ABS findings that more than one million people are underemployed - they want more work but can’t get it.

“It’s clear that for too many people everything is going up except for their wages,” said Mr O’Connor today.

The dual job holders might be getting an extra wage for a special project, such as saving for a home deposit.

But the need for two jobs is being linked to a cost of living rise of around 2.5 per cent while pay is going up by 2.27 per cent, and fears most households are spending their savings to maintain living standards.

The analysis underlines the Opposition’s warning that wages need a boost, and questions the Government’s boasts of improving employment numbers.

Labor leader Bill Shorten had made wages the centrepiece of the party’s election campaign and has given in-principle support to establishment of a living wage.

Business has argued faster wage rises would kill off jobs and said economic productivity has to be boosted first. However, over recent years productivity has risen while wage growth has dipped and unemployment has stuck at five per cent.


Australia could have the world's highest minimum wage under Labor plan

Part of the reason why unemployment is higher in Australia than it is in Britain and the USA.  It is 5% in Australia but 4% in Britain and the USA

Labor's pledge to introduce a "living wage" could make Australia's minimum income the highest in world, an analysis of OECD data reveals.

The figures come a day after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged to update Australia's workplace laws to allow the Fair Work Commission to set the minimum wage at a level that would ensure no full-time worker lives in poverty, as demanded by the union movement.

The Australian Council of Trade Union wants this figure to be set at 60 per cent of the median full-time wage - or $852 a week - within two years, with an initial 6 per cent jump of $43 a week to $762.20 this year for the 2.23 million Australian workers on minimum or award wages.

Labor's pledge to introduce a "living wage" could make Australia's minimum income the highest in world, an analysis of OECD data reveals.

If Labor succeeds in securing an $852-a-week "living wage", Australia could overtake France and Luxembourg to become the nation with the highest minimum wage. It is currently ranked third based on the latest OECD data, which is adjusted for purchasing power.

However, European nations including France have been under pressure from anti-government protesters, prompting leaders to promise minimum wage increases.

Deloitte Access economist Chris Richardson said Australia was already near the top of the global minimum wage relative to median wages and unemployment benefits. "We use wages as a second social security system," Mr Richardson said.

He said Labor and the ACTU's proposals were not "a great idea, but not the world's worst idea either". "Over the last decade the academic evidence has shifted a little towards saying there is less danger [to raising the minimum wage]."

Any hike to Australia's minimum wage would flow on to workers covered by awards, Australian Industry Group’s Stephen Smith said, as the Fair Work Commission tended to pass on the same percentage wage increase across all classifications.

If the Commission agreed to align the national minimum wage with the ACTU's two-year target of 60 per cent of median earnings, he said, "it would more than likely apply the same large increase to all award rates – including those that are already well above [the living wage target]".

"An increase of this size would be very harmful for businesses, workers and the Australian economy. It would destroy Australian jobs and investment."

Business groups, analysts and the Coalition government say Labor’s plan to convert the minimum wage to a "living wage" could have the perverse effect of limiting the number of jobs available as businesses cut down on hours and workers.


Censorship: Sky New Zealand pulls Sky News Australia off air over Christchurch massacre coverage

Who does it hurt to have someone watching it?

Sky New Zealand has pulled fellow broadcaster Sky News Australia off air until the channel stops broadcasting clips from the Christchurch mosque shooter’s Facebook live stream.

In a tweet posted on Saturday morning, Sky New Zealand, an independently-owned broadcaster, said it had decided to remove the Australian 24-hour news channel from its platform because of the distressing footage.

“We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and have made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform until we are confident that the distressing footage from yesterday’s events will not be shared.”

Despite a plea from New Zealand police, Rupert Murdoch’s Australian pay-TV channel was among the broadcasters that chose to screen Go Pro footage shot by a man who slaughtered 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.

“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” the police said in a statement. “We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”

Brenton Tarrant was alleged to have filmed a 17-minute Facebook video which included his drive to the mosque, his arsenal of weapons and graphic scenes of his murderous rampage. Media organisations that have used the film stopped the video as he entered the mosque.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have removed the footage but new copies are constantly being uploaded.

Sky News Australia has been broadcasting the footage repeatedly, sparking anger on social media. It was also shown via Sky News Australia on screens in Qantas airways lounges at airports. Qantas has been approached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Sky New Zealand told Guardian Australia the company was in negotiations with Sky News Australia as to when the channel would be restored to the platform.

“We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and do not wish to show the distressing footage that has been shared at this time. We will resume service when available,” a social media spokeswoman said on Twitter.

“All other news channels are still available. BBC World and CNN are available on SKY GO.”


EPA's carbon emissions backflip after West Australian Premier's intervention

After days of anger over a decision that big businesses warned would jeopardise tens of billions of dollars of resources projects, the boss of WA's environmental watchdog was firmly sticking with his new policy.

"We stand by our guidelines," Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] chairman Tom Hatton told the ABC on Tuesday. "We feel the guidelines are necessary because emissions have been rising in WA and nationally for some time.

"And we are concerned the federal mechanisms to drive those down … are not something we can rely on."

But Dr Hatton admitted defeat just two days after that firm defence of his board's decision, which had recommended major projects be required to entirely offset their carbon emissions.

"Our guidelines and our advice would benefit from further consultation and we are going to do that," he said on Thursday.

"There are significant issues that have emerged."

How industry heavyweights exerted pressure

To understand how such an emphatic 180-degree turn took place in 48 hours, it pays to look at what is known to have occurred in between.

Oil and gas giants, already fuming, stepped up their fight significantly.

Full-page advertisements were plastered across Perth's daily newspaper, as big business splashed the cash in an effort to convince the public that the EPA's decision would inflict an enormous economic blow on WA.

They took their public relations effort up a notch, with top executives warning across a range of interviews that devastating impacts loomed, and the Premier's dismissal of the EPA's decision was far from enough to restore stability and confidence.

"There's thousands of jobs at stake, it is not just our business," Woodside chief operating officer Meg O'Neill said.

The fight was taken directly to State Parliament, with top brass from Woodside, Shell, Chevron and Santos called in for crisis talks with the Premier, during which they stressed what they saw as enormous risk and uncertainty had stemmed from the EPA's decision.

Action makes way for consultation

Just four hours later, the EPA's policy was no more — replaced by an indefinite period of "consultation".

"After the meeting I was in contact with Dr Hatton and explained the concerns that industry expressed," Premier Mark McGowan said.

"He and I agreed that something needed to be done."

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman credited the Government "for acting quickly", while the Chamber of Minerals and Energy hailed it as a "win for common sense".

Less impressed though were environmental campaigners, who were left questioning who was actually running the state.

"Mr McGowan clearly does not understand the emergency we are in and would rather placate the big donors of the major parties than take tangible action on climate change," Greens MP Tim Clifford said.

For Mr McGowan, the EPA's backdown removed an enormous headache that had seriously threatened to further undermine his mantra as a Premier focused on job creation.

But with the EPA having so quickly and dramatically reversed its policy after his intervention, questions are likely to linger for some time about how autonomous WA's supposedly independent environmental watchdog really is.


 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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand what you say about Pell. My thinking is that the verdict was unsound, and he will win on appeal. A lot of people hate Catholics out there, and the Church's slow response to the issue of child abuse has given them plenty of ammunition.

But the same people who hate abuse (as I do too of course), are often pro-abortion, and that is plain murder.

In America they are now getting very close to approving infanticide. I kid you not. It seems that a reformed Catholic church may be our only defence against this. Shades of Moloch!

As for unemployment, which is far higher among youth, stop married women whose husbands have a job from going to work! They are stealing their children's jobs and training opportucoure

I have seen them. The big house. The $70,000 4x4. The overseas holidays. And they are still not satisfied. More, more, more!