Features Australia

Aux bien pensants

27 February 2016

9:00 AM

27 February 2016

9:00 AM

Australians should thank ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham for demonstrating that she presides over what was, from its very inception, a monstrous carbuncle on our justice system, one so gross and so deformed it should not be allowed to live for one minute more. No model for other jurisdictions, it offers far less protection for the innocent law abiding citizen than a Guantánamo Bay style tribunal does for dangerous terrorists. Latham herself has admitted that, unlike a jury trial, the ICAC process is a joy for the sadistic, and is ‘fantastic… a great lot of fun… like pulling wings off butterflies’. Unfortunately for the highly respected Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, but fortunately for us, Latham has demonstrated the extraordinary extent to which this process can be so easily abused. Although the Court of Appeal and the High Court have ruled that whatever was contained in Ms Cunneen’s private telephone conversation, it was never a matter for enquiry by ICAC, Latham not only sent the telephone recording to Ms Cunneen’s superior, she made a defiant and possibly contemptuous public statement about it. The Solicitor General wisely had the recording assessed by an outsider, the respected Victorian Chief Crown Prosecutor Gavin Silbert QC. He found there were no grounds for criminal proceedings. That should have been the end. But now, in clear breach of the law, Latham passed on the recording to the Parliamentary Joint Committee, a recording which the Inspector suggests may have been obtained improperly. And as the Inspector says, she has sabotaged the proper constitutional functioning of the Committee. The plan is to have it publish the recording to unleash a trial by media. This is supported by ICAC’s favourite outlet, Fairfax, for whom Ms Cunneen, as a scourge of criminals and a defender of their victims, is an ideal target (see ‘Star Chamber Wars’ The Spectator Australia 2 May 2015).Latham’s antics demonstrate that the sooner Parliament extinguishes this very expensive monstrosity, the better. They should remember that the first innocent it devoured was its naïve father, Nick Greiner. In fact, our ancient legal system always offered us tried, tested and safe machinery for the pre-trial investigation of corruption allegations without the need to set up the sort of star chamber one associates with dictatorships – and at a fraction of the cost. This is the grand jury made up of ordinary people, remnants of which were hurriedly abolished in Victoria to prevent one being empanelled to examine certain allegations against former PM Gillard. Grand juries have survived in the United States and are guaranteed under the Constitution. Their function is simple, to decide, in private, whether there is sufficient evidence to initiate a public criminal prosecution before a judge and a jury.

Just on grand juries, it is beyond understanding that one has not been empanelled over the allegations that Hillary Clinton, through the improper use of a private server for official emails, committed a serious offence in not protecting important state secrets which are widely believed to have been hacked by a foreign power. Contrast this with the alacrity with which both the FBI and the Justice Department moved against General David Petraeus for disclosing classified information to his biographer and mistress. And how is that Mrs Clinton and President Obama have both escaped any culpability for their cover-up of the Benghazi affair? (This is the subject of a soon-to-be-released film, 13 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.) While nobody died as a result of Watergate, four Americans died at Benghazi. Having ignored the pleas for increased security and abandoned the ambassador and staff to the terrorists, the administration hid behind a cover-up story which portrayed the clearly premeditated attack as an unpredictable and spontaneous demonstration about an American YouTube video said to be ‘offensive to Muslims’.

The mainstream media is gradually coming around to our assessment (‘Turnbull’s chicken entrails’ The Speccie 9 Jan 2016) that Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned any claim to the economic leadership of the nation, which with Newspoll was one of his two reasons for the coup. With government expenditure out-of-control and debt mounting, all he seems to be able to think of is how to extract more money, in different ways, from the unfortunate taxpayers. As we have said all along, the coup was not about principle or policy, it was about treachery and ambition. Notwithstanding the prime minister’s new found affability or how many ‘selfies’ he can take, he will be unable to hide this shabby truth from the Australian people.

The world has lost a great scientist in Professor Bob Carter, who died in Townsville last month. He insisted on the appalling truth that while the Kyoto protocol would cost trillions of dollars, it would never deliver any significant cooling. He demonstrated that accurate temperature measurements made from weather balloons and satellites since the late 50s show no atmospheric warming since 1958. So why, you may ask, is the Turnbull government going into debt, wasting billions on climate change?

When three students were thrown out of an empty QUT computer laboratory reserved for indigenous students, they understandably reacted by posting comments in the social media. This so offended the officer who ordered them out, one Cindy Prior, she sued for $250,000 under section 18 C of the Racial Discrimination Act. She is reported to have dropped two students from the case for $5000 each. Section 18C should be repealed or at least amended as the noble Senators Day, Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and Smith propose. As The Speccie has revealed , (‘Could an “Aussie Hebdo” survive?’ 24/1/15) the section also allows legal action by members of minority religions, as the Keating government intended.

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