Private prosecution succeeds in case barrister says "should deeply embarrass police"

I loved this comment from Carolyn.....

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...and from James of Coffs who asked me:

When does the private prosecution of Gillard and Co begin? Or does she get a free pass like the rest of the corrupt politicians we elect to parliaments in this country?

My answer

Mate she doesn't get a free pass from me.

I put this story up because I sympathised so strongly with the woman who brought her own private prosecution - particularly in her comments about how long it takes and how expensive it is.

I've had doors smashed shut on me countless times, each time it's just a matter of getting the specifics of why a particular knockback's been given and then working to fix it.

I have not yet reached a final knockback, that would only come as a result of several levels of judicial appeal and we are a long way from that.

I expect to have something more concrete than this comment to make in the next few weeks.

Thanks for asking,


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(Barrister and former NSW policeman Clem van der Weegen who successfully brought the private prosecution)

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A Queensland man has admitted to splashing petrol on his former partner and threatening to burn their house down, in a court case successfully prosecuted by the victim because the state’s police refused to bring domestic violence charges.

In 2017 police told the victim, Dani*, that there was a prima facie case against her former partner for threatening violence, but because there was “a low level of public interest” they would not bring a charge.

Dani then took the rare step of hiring a barrister and prosecuting the criminal case herself.

Her barrister, Clem van der Weegen, said the private prosecution and guilty plea should “deeply embarrass” the Queensland police.

At a hearing last year, a Queensland magistrate’s court was told that officers had refused to cooperate with the case and had declined to make written witness statements. They eventually supplied statements after Dani’s legal team complained directly to the police commissioner, Katarina Carroll.

Dani said she was warned the process would be costly and time-consuming but that she “could not allow [his] actions to define the rest of my life”.

“It has been over four years since I believed I was going to die at the hands of my partner,” she said.

“Every day I am faced with the challenge of living with post-traumatic stress disorder, the loss of who I was, how I was able to function in life and what I was able to achieve. [His] threat to set me alight has had a profound and irreversible effect on my life and the lives of my children.

“No woman, no victim should ever have to go to these lengths to seek justice.

“But I had heard so many harrowing accounts from DV survivors and so many instances of the Queensland police failing to take DV victims seriously, failing to bring criminal charges to make perpetrators accountable, and failing to keep women and children safe that I felt I really had no choice but to carry on.”

On 31 January the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to threatening violence. In doing so, the man admitted to details including that he splashed petrol on Dani and threatened to burn down the house. She was inside the house at the time. The man was sentenced to 130 hours community service and had no conviction recorded.

Dani says her story highlights how women can be failed in domestic violence cases where the victim and offender give radically different versions of events.

Parliament's role is not to pursue and punish individual citizens - it's to make laws for us all

This is a terribly important column from Henry Ergas.

I've published an extract below - you can read Henry's excellent commentary in full here.


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...senator Jonathon Duniam, supporting the motion on behalf of the government senators, stressed the independence of the Council for the Order of Australia, and underlined that “it’s important that this motion is not seen as directing the council of the Order of Australia, whose independent deliberations must be ­respected”.

But it is undeniable that the motion’s purpose was precisely to urge the council to strip Arndt of the Order of Australia.

And it is equally undeniable that losing the Order of Australia is a severe and humiliating form of punishment that is typically inflicted by the council only when a member of the order has been found by a court to have committed a serious offence.

To that extent, the motion came perilously close, in spirit if not in legal effect, to a bill of attainder, seeking to impose, by legislative means, a punishment on a specified individual for an action committed in the past.

Bills of attainder are prohibited by the US constitution as an indefensible attack on individual liberties; and while the Australian Constitution lacks similar protections, the High Court found in Polyukhovich v Commonwealth (1991) that such a bill would contravene Chapter III of the Constitution, which requires judicial powers to be exercised by courts, and not by the legislature.

Arndt was not represented in the Senate when it debated and passed the motion; she was not given a reasonable opportunity to argue against the punishment with which she was being threatened. Nor did the Senate carefully consider the motion’s possible ­implications, instead falling into a troubling near-unanimity.

Proposed and accepted in the heat of the moment, the Senate process was far removed from any notion of prudent and responsible deliberation. The result is that the Senate has placed the Council for the Order of Australia in an extraordinarily difficult position: whatever decision it comes to will inevitably be tainted by the pressure that motion puts on it.

To make matters worse, Arndt’s offence was plainly that she expressed views that are widely (and rightly) considered to be appalling.

Now, there may be occasions on which it is appropriate for the Senate to condemn particular opinions; but very few decisions should be regarded with greater suspicion than those that use the machinery of parliament to brand individual citizens as heretics. Pushed, as they so readily are, to the point of making conformity with the opinions of the majority both a duty and a necessity, those decisions risk destroying that margin of freedom that gives democratic life its substance and its endless possibility for advance.

At a time when the true believers are everywhere on the march, demanding that any opposing ­voices be suppressed, one might have hoped a party that calls itself Liberal would, before setting so dangerous a precedent, remember the biblical admonition that the sword of power, once it is unleashed, “devours sometimes one way and sometimes another”.

That none of that seems to have troubled the overwhelming majority of senators merely highlights the deeply illiberal spirit of the age.


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Heathrow new runway ruled illegal over climate change & Paris agreement


Be. Like. Trump.

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Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis.

The ruling is a major blow to the project at a time when public concern about the climate emergency is rising fast and the government has set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, could use the ruling to abandon the project, or the government could draw up a new policy document to approve the runway.

The government is now considering its next steps but will not appeal against the verdict. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Our manifesto makes clear any Heathrow expansion will be industry-led. Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity and levelling up across the UK. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment.”

Johnson has opposed the runway, saying in 2015 that he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction”. Heathrow is already one the busiest airports in the world, with 80 million passengers a year. The £14bn third runway could be built by 2028 and would bring 700 more planes per day and a big rise in carbon emissions.

The court’s ruling is the first major ruling in the world to be based on the Paris agreement and may have an impact both in the UK and around the globe by inspiring challenges against other high-carbon projects.

Lord Justice Lindblom said: “The Paris agreement ought to have been taken into account by the secretary of state. The national planning statement was not produced as the law requires.”

“It’s now clear that our governments can’t keep claiming commitment to the Paris agreement, while simultaneously taking actions that blatantly contradict it” said Tim Crosland, at legal charity Plan B, which brought the challenge. “The bell is tolling on the carbon economy loud and clear.”

Plan B’s challenge was one of a number of legal challenges against the government’s national policy statement, which gave the go-ahead for the new runway in 2018 after MPs backed it by a large majority. Others were brought by local residents, councils, the mayor of London, and environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

The challenges were dismissed in the high court in May 2019 but the complainants took their cases to the court of appeal, which delivered its verdicts on Thursday.

Plan B argued that the Paris agreement target, which the government had ratified, was an essential part of government climate policy and that ministers had failed to assess how a third runway could be consistent with the Paris target of keeping global temperature rise as close to 1.5C as possible.

“This is an opportunity for Boris Johnson to put Heathrow expansion to bed and focus on the most important diplomatic event of his premiership, the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November,” said Lord Randall, a former Conservative MP and climate adviser to the former prime minister Theresa May. “It’s his chance to shine on the world stage.”

The court of appeal did not overturn the high court’s dismissal of the other challenges on Thursday, which related to air and noise pollution, traffic, and the multibillion pound cost of the runway.

But the Paris agreement ruling is far-reaching, according to Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh, an international public law expert at Leiden University, in the Netherlands. “Its implications are global,” she said.

“For the first time, a court has confirmed that the Paris agreement temperature goal has binding effect. This goal was based on overwhelming evidence about the catastrophic risk of exceeding 1.5C of warming. Yet some have argued that the goal is aspirational only, leaving governments free to ignore it in practice.”

Prof Corinne Le Quéré, at the University of East Anglia, said: “Government needs to put climate targets at the heart all big decisions, or risk missing their own net zero objectives with devastating consequences for climate and stability. I am relieved this is finally recognised in law.”

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg said: “Imagine when we all start taking the Paris agreement into account.”

Heathrow and proponents of the third runway say it would provide an economic boost and is important for international business, particularly after Brexit. “The court of appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’ – apart from one, [i.e. climate change] which is eminently fixable,” said a spokeswoman for Heathrow.

“We will appeal [as in interested party] to the supreme court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful. Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the prime minister’s vision of global Britain. We will get it done the right way.”

Mike Cherry, at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The verdict is a blow to small firms who need greater regional and global connectivity, as well as more opportunities to export.”

However, most flights are taken for pleasure and just 20% of the UK population take more than two-thirds of international flights. Critics say the economic benefits are illusory given, for example, the estimated £10bn of taxpayers’ money needed to alter road and rail links to the airport, and would draw investment towards the south-east.

“No amount of spin from Heathrow’s PR machine can obscure the carbon logic of a new runway,” said John Sauven, at Greenpeace UK. “Their plans would pollute as much as a small country.”

Geraldine Nicholson, from local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “This is the final nail in the coffin for Heathrow expansion. We now need to make sure the threat of a third runway does not come back.”

At a separate event on Thursday, Ashok Sharma, the business secretary and president of November’s UN COP26 climate summit, said: “The only economy which can avoid the worst effects of climate change, and thus continue to deliver growth, is a decarbonised economy. Our choices will make or break the zero-carbon economy.”


Statement from the Chairman of the Council for the Order of Australia about Ms Bettina Arndt AM

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A statement from the Chairman of the Council for the Order of Australia, the Honourable Shane Stone AC QC.

The Council for the Order of Australia has received correspondence relating to the appointment of Ms Bettina Arndt AM as a Member of the Order of Australia.

There is a standard process when consideration is given to terminating an appointment or cancelling an award in the Order of Australia.  This is followed in all cases.

In practice, the Governor-General does not act on any matter relating to the Order of Australia other than on the advice of the Council.

The Council, which comprises representatives of each state and territory, and community representatives (details of which are available at, will consider the correspondence that it has received in a methodical way.   

It is important to note that the Council’s consideration of any individual matter is based on factual information and not by external pressure or lobbying.

Neither the Council or I will be providing a running commentary on our deliberations.

At the conclusion of our consideration, the Council will inform the member of the outcome.


"Victoria police sacrificed our families" - Moving report on Melbourne's Bourke Street killings from The Age -

Thank you to Erin Pearson at The Age.

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Erin Pearson

Melinda Tan said her husband Matthew Si, 33,  was "sacrificed" due to police complacency on the day James Gargasoulas drove through the CBD.

"The whole plan was hinging on this one person negotiating with the offender," she told the final day of the inquest into the tragedy on Wednesday.

"You cannot negotiate with a psychopath with text messages."

Junpei Kanno, whose younger brother Yosuke Kanno was killed that day, said his family had been "abandoned" by Australia – a country they now see as being "generous to criminals but cold-hearted to their victims".

"I see Australia as a country where you are murdered just because you happen to be walking on the streets while the killer is guaranteed a cooked meal," he said in a statement read to the inquest.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

He said senior police had failed to acknowledge their own faults, instead shifting the blame onto rank-and-file officers.

Ms Tan said that even with hindsight, many police couldn't say how they would have done things differently to stop the murderous driver.

"In other words, our families had to be sacrificed," she said.

"If this is the best Victoria Police has to offer, then we are better off protecting ourselves."

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Ms Tan accused certain officers of being more concerned with protecting their careers than the public that day.

"There are, however, officers in Victoria Police who remain egoistic and not willing to admit to their mistakes. You cannot effect change with that attitude," she said.

"You should not wear a badge or carry the title if you’re not willing to risk yourself for the safety of the public."

Ms Tan added: "Our young daughter Aria asked me the other day, why did Papa have to die? I will leave that for Victoria Police to answer."

Bourke Street families target police mistakes

She blamed complacency for what happened and said "the whole plan hinged" on Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner pleading with Gargasoulas via phone and text messages to surrender as he drove around the city.

Mr Si's father, Kheng Si, struggled to understand the events leading to that day and how Gargasoulas was on bail, despite multiple prior breaches, and then eluded law enforcers as he continue to offend.

He said it was "unbelievable" all the resources of the police force could not subdue him.

"Over the last three years it has been very difficult for me to understand, let alone accept, one single offender possibly only armed with a knife ... was able to challenge a contingent of law enforcement officers and win," he said.

"I have the impression that on January 20, 2017, the different police units were fragmented, there was no overall leader and there was reluctance for teamwork among the various units.

"There seems to be no accountability. There was acknowledgement of victims' pain, agony and sufferings but no formal apology."

Three-month-old Zachary Bryant, 10-year-old Thalia Hakin, Jess Mudie, 22, and Bhavita Patel, 33, were also killed in the rampage.

Matthew Bryant shed tears as he spoke of his son Zachary, who died after Gargasoulas hit the infant's pram with his stolen Holden Commodore.

"I hate knowing my son's death had to be the catalyst for change," he said.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins adjourned the inquest until May 25 and extended condolences to affected family members, urging them to take care of themselves.

"This trauma may resurface in a different way now the inquest has concluded," she said.


Melinda Tan, wife of Matthew Si

"We are forced to hear that nothing could have been done and that the outcome may not have changed even if other actions were taken. In other words, our families had to be sacrificed on that day. If this is the best that Victoria Police can offer, then we are better off protecting ourselves. 

"There were some officers who offered their heartfelt apologies to the families. Although it does not bring my husband back, it helped to know that others were suffering with us. There are, however, officers in Victoria Police who remain egoistic, who will not admit to their mistakes and are not willing to learn from this incident. Certain officers were more focused on their careers and safety rather than protecting the public.

"The offender's intelligence on the police was apparently more effective than the force's against him. He knew what unmarked cars looked like and that they would stop pursuing him the moment he drove recklessly … The offender must be the luckiest person on this planet."

Kheng Si, father of Matthew Si

"The emotional and physical sufferings of the victims will linger forever. Over the past three years it has been very difficult for me to understand, let alone accept that one single offender, possibly only armed with a knife and driving in a stolen car was able to challenge a contingent of law enforcement officers and won.

"Various issues have been identified but there seem to be no accountability. The evidence presented in court last week highlighted that the tragic events of January 20, 2017 were unavoidable. I was led to believe that it had to happen and nothing could be done about it as every officer acted in good faith.

"There was acknowledgment of the victim's pain, agony and sufferings but not a formal apology. As I have not ventilated my grief and frustration, myself and my family would like to thank our legal team ... and a sincere thank you to everyone who helped Matthew, the first responders, paramedics, hospital staffs, doctors, nurses who tried so hard to save Matthew despite his unsurvivable injuries."

Sue Si, mother of Matthew Si

"Over the past three years, I have seen the pain, struggles and courage in each member of my family to cope with the full loss of Matthew. We were a happy family before this and had many happy days to look forward to. Now, it's only one day at a time."

Masayuki Kanno, father of Yosuke Kanno

"The records of the statements which was provided to us contains many comments expressing self-justifications by those who are involved. Or they can even be seen as blame shifting. The statements appear to be limited to what actions each personnel have taken and what their basis for those actions were. There are no words of remorse."


Junpei Kanno, brother of Yosuke Kanno (read by a relative)

"All the apologies are coming from those officers who were at the scene, however, on the other hand, I think those who were in controlling and supervisory roles have not acknowledged their own fault in failing to understand the skills of the officers working under their command and the situation those officers were in before making decisions.

"I see Australia as a country where you are murdered just because you just happen to be walking on the streets, while the killer is guaranteed a warm bed and cooked meal, as well as medical care to fulfil his life.

"Humans are animals that can die from sadness. The condition of our grandmother's dementia seems to have worsened since the incident. My father now drinks more than he used to. Every month, my mother goes to my brother's grave, whether it is in the heat of summer or on a cold winter day, despite the travel taking more than three hours. And as for myself, I have become a cold-hearted person."

Nawwar Hassan-Bryant, mother of Zachary Bryant

"Zachary was our second baby and he was just perfect. He was the true definition of that word in every way. From the moment he was born till we laid him down to rest, he was perfect. It gives us comfort to know he will always be safe in heaven and he'll be waiting for Matt and I and his sister Zara and his brother Zane to see him again soon."

Matthew Bryant, father of Zachary Bryant

"I hate knowing that my son's death had to be the catalyst for change but I hope that whatever outcomes follow meaningfully prevent incidents of this nature occurring again."

Lovely letter to Jason Morrison from the late great Stan Zemanek

The media industry is packed tight with some of the greatest egos the world has known.

Most of them are fragile, insecure, poor characters, scared of being exposed and frightened witless of anyone who might present a competitive threat (Ray).

Stan was the opposite of that.  A complete man who was secure in his own skin.

This letter says as much about Stan as it does about Jason.

God bless you both.