Missing Link missing no more

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Mr Howard’s new plan for NT indigenous communities, announced on Thursday,  has overwhelmed other topics of debate on Australian political blogs. The question: has the PM finally summoned up the New Tampa his opponents have been expecting? tigtog thinks so, except that:

Unlike the total beat-up of Tampa, there is a genuine problem to be addressed with respect to sexual abuse, but Howard’s announced plans reek of the Something Approach:

Something Must Be Done.
This is Something We Could Do.
Let’s Do That Thing Then.

Neither Sarah nor Jeremy think doing something is doing enough. Ken Parish launched a scathing attack here at Troppo, focussing on the recklessness and impracticality of many of the proposed measures, rather than on the motives. Andrew Bartlett is pleased that at least  the issue is getting priority, and gives support to Kevin Rudd’s bipartisan ‘war cabinet proposal’. Tim Dunlop will ‘judge the program on its results’. John Quiggin has a similar response, noting that enforcement measures are emphasised while there’s no mention of measures to create jobs. At LP, Gummo Trotsky supplies a handy set of links to relevant transcripts,  while Mark Bahnisch provides a useful roundup of blog discussion.

Apart from a little updating,  this shortish and under-personed Missing Link  is the one that was meant to hit the stands on Friday.  Contributers were Amanda Rose, Jason Soon and James Farrell   

News and Politics Stuff

Indigenous matters dominated the agenda even before the PM’s announcement. Mark Bahnisch, for example, had reiterated his critique of Pearsonism, which he regards as an unfortunate source of legitimacy for the government’s punitive and tightfisted policies. He agrees with Gary Sauer-Thompson that, in Mark’s words ‘self determination has never really been tried’.

Around the same time, the verdict in the Mulrunji case came in. John Quiggin does not criticise the finding that Sergeant Hurley is innocent not guilty, but observes that nonetheless the case is not over. He lists the flaws that the case exposes in indegenous policies and procedures at every level.

Other matters in the domestic political arena:

Andrew Bartlett informs us that the Treaties Committee has just tabled a report. He explains why he dissented from the main recommendation, to sign new treaty with Indonesia. He dissented from that pay rise too, as does Tim Dunlop.

Elsewhere Tim wonders what’s going on in the head of BCA Chair Michael Cheney when he insists that the anti-anti-WorkChoices advertising should not be political.

Tim Blair covers the brouhaha over the knighting of Salman Rushdie, pointing to two very different and interesting responses, one from a very scared Brit and one from a moderate Muslim. He also continues his feud with the people at MediaWatch. Meanwhile, Steve Edwards’ take on the Pakistani response to the Rushdie knighthood is here. Steve is back in full polemical force and plays a tit for tat game:

The Australian government (ideally the EU, although despite its official "secularism" there has scarcely been a regime more likely to cringe at the first sign of religious hectoring) should grant a full legal amnesty to anyone who assassinates a high-ranking official (such as a minister, chief of police, head of the clerical council, etc) in any foreign government that is demonstrably a theocracy; i.e. any regime under which it is illegal (particularly on pain of death) to renounce a superstition, denounce it, or adopt another. We could eventually expand this amnesty to assailants of prominent clerics, academics and journalists who merely support state-sponsored murderous aggression against "blasphemers" and "apostates".

Andrew Landeryou has a nuanced post on China and the broader question of trading with countries with poor human rights records.

The ALS blog is running a poll on which is the worst tax?. The accompanying blogpost has already spurred some interesting discussion.

Life and Other Serious Stuff

Dreadnought is skeptical of polls on attitudes towards gay marriage.

As experts scrutinize the rival broadband proposals, Robert Merkel time-travels to the ’90s to discover how we got into this mess in the first place.

Laura complained to the Advertising Standards Board about the Nando’s advertisement with the pole dancer. They dismissed it, and her discussion of the case is fascinating.

Shaun Cronin reports on the latest tragic instance of Aussie brain drain: those cursed Americans have gone and poached one of our best and brightest creationists. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Tim Lambert catches out Miranda Devine maligning good ‘good Aussie toilets’. Paul Norton uncovers a bipartisan conspiracy to misrepresent the Catholic Church as uniformly reactionary on social issues and the environment. 

Apropos of the Melbourne shootings, Pavlov’s Cat wonders how we arrived at ‘gunman’ as the consensus term for perpetrators of such crimes.

Sarah drags herself to the keyboard to condemn infant formula companies for the further decline of breastfeeding in developing countries.

Readers who know what a macro is (in this context, something like a caption, but apparently not exactly a caption) might like to join in Lauredhel’s Tony Abbott Macro Challenge.

John Quiggin is raising money again for charity, and urges you to get in before the end of the tax year. Troppodillians echo Kim and Helen in congratulating John  on the fifth anniversary of his site, a mainstay of Australian blogdom.

The Yartz

TimT, guest posting at Sarsaparilla, on Australian childhood classics.

A review of The Burlesque House in Melbourne at The Morning After.

Death watch for Mick Molloy’s The Nation continues, re:soundings diagnoses the problems.

A lot of artistic and desgin effort goes into video games these days, The Dust Forms Words loves Okami:  "The hand of the artist is visible in each and every image on screen."

Dr Who spin off Torchwood gets geek blood pumping at Paul’s journal and the Lav. It’s a bit vulgar to link to something you yourself wrote, but I’ve never denied being vulgar. 

Want to know all about Mark Philippoussis’ reality dating show Age of Love but can’t (or don’t want to) watch it yourself,  I have done the dirty work for you.

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21 Responses to Missing Link missing no more

  1. “John Quiggin does not criticise the finding that Sargeant Hurley is innocent….”

    There was no such finding. Instead, there was a finding that he was not guilty, which is quite a different thing.

  2. Someone got in with the lawyerly pedantry before me, I see.

  3. Niall says:

    …a mainstay of Australian bogdom.

    I’m not all that certain Quiggan would appreciate that one.

  4. Normally Ken or I would edit, but Ken’s been flat-out and I was recovering from the Hurley trial.

    Sorry about that.

  5. Just an observation, which holds I think regardless of your view on the Howard “state of emergency”, but I think blogs (and Crikey) have been at the forefront of discussing the practical problems with the measures announced, while the mainstream media coverage has been useless.

  6. johng says:

    I think tigtog is right that this is a Tampa trap attempt. This is shown by the unnecessary, unhelpful and draconian provisions in the Howard proposal (though there are good aspects in parts of the proposal). Labor have seen the trap and are not responding and Howard is showing some frustration. He clearly wants a fight. His negative response to Beattie’s sensible proposal for a COAG meeting to coordinate action and plan for the medium and long term also shows he is not really interested in solutions but is after a political objective.
    Still some poorly motivated actions can have good effects.
    The public servants in FACSIA and PM&C will certainly be strenuously attempting to make a flawed proposal work.

  7. Damien Eldridge says:

    Aren’t people presumed to be innocent until they are found guilty in a court of law? (Or is that only in the US or on tv?) If so, then it would seem that he should still be presumed to be innocent, since he was not found guilty.

  8. MorningDude says:

    Johng you raise a very valid point which is borne out by two comments made by Howard.

    The first the night before last in response to Labor’s full bipartisanship response; “I find Labor’s response puzzling.”

    The second came last night in his ludicrous speech trying to compare the supposed disaster of the NT Aboriginal communities as being a slow Cyclone Katrina without the hand of God, thus requiring a similar emergency response from the government. Howard stated on Labor’s bipartisan unqualified support (except for accountability and quantifiability) “Labor can’t have it both ways.”

  9. Accused persons are entitled to the presumption of innocence, but the Crown has to leap through various hoops in order to bring a matter to trial. The traditional test concerns ‘a reasonable jury, properly instructed’.

    Indeed, in the Hurley matter the defence made a no-case submission on a voir dire (in the absence of the jury), but it was rejected by Justice Dutney. The core of a no-case submission is that a reasonable jury, properly instructed, would be unable to find the accused guilty.

    When a jury finds the accused ‘not guilty’, it means that the Crown has been unable to discharge the burden of proof to the requisite standard (‘beyond reasonable doubt’ in a criminal trial). As the matter has already been brought to trial, it is not for the jury to make findings beyond those of either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

  10. Guido says:

    johng:

    “Labor have seen the trap and are not responding and Howard is showing some frustration. He clearly wants a fight. His negative response to Beatties sensible proposal for a COAG meeting to coordinate action and plan for the medium and long term also shows he is not really interested in solutions but is after a political objective.”

    I also think this. In fact this seems to extend a strategy from Howard to use the states, as being all Labor as a way of getting back to the Federal ALP. Howard seems to use any connection, being a union official or a state, however tenous to criticise Labor.

    This also seems to show a shift in the politics of Australia. My memory of the 1970’s and 1980’s was that the Federal Government would take on the states at its peril. Any perception of taking over states’ rights would have created a big backlash, even from premiers of the same political party.

    But again with the Murray Darling and now this, it seems that takeovers of Federal Government of States responsibilites (and remember that Tony Abbot proposed to take over health as well?)are normal. And this from a party that traditionally was the defender of States’ rights unlike ‘centralist’ Labor.

    The common belief is that are states which are most remote from Canberra where the anti-Federal interference feeling is strongest.

    It will be intersting how this issue will play in states like Western Australia. Alan Carpernter has alreay stated his opinions about it.

  11. Arbie Jay says:

    Guido

    Re Abbott proposing to take over Health, the states have asked Abbott to take over health on more than one occasion but Abbot and Howard have declined the offer. If Abbott took over health he would not have the states to blame and would have to take full responsiblity for any problems with the health system.
    The government took over industrial relations to implement Work Choices, they are trying to take over the rivers to show they have a plan for water resources.
    Howard is attempting a take over of aboriginal affairs for short term political purposes, he can blame the states for all the problems yet does not have to accept blame for any failures as the elction will be over.

  12. MorningDude says:

    Federal government is very bad at handling big ticket departments and tactical planning for them (look at Defence). Their large bureaucracy makes them very inefficient and even though there are many faults in the Federal/State sharing arrangements it would not take a lot to make it work better. The States are much better at the on the ground administration of big ticket items but not the budgetary side of it nor the strategic planning. So an arrangement of the Feds controlling the purse strings and the States administering the programs can work very well.

    Notice that the Howard government doesn’t want to take over education or health (but does want them run them on their ideological framework), yet they do want to take over IR and infrastructure etc, why? Simple, everything the Feds want to take from the States are money makers, but everything they want to leave to the states are big money losers (because of their very nature). So the Feds support the private side of these entities but deliberately under fund the public side. If they could the Feds would have no hesitation on lumping the States with Defence and then under fund that as well, which btw Howard does anyway though you would think he doesn’t by the way he spins it.

  13. Damien Eldridge says:

    SL, thinking about it further, it seems to me that there are two separate issues here. First, clearly if the standard is beyond reasonable doubt, then when someone is found not guilty, it simply means that the jury could not be convoinced that they were almost surely guilty of the crime. It may be the case that they were innocent or it may be the case that they were guilty but there was insufficient evidence to establisah this with a sufficient degree of confidence. We also know that, despite the use of a standard that is biased towards non-conviction, it is sometimes the case that innocent people are found guilty. Nonetheless, despite the possibility of mistakes, if someone is found not guilty, it seems to me that from a legal point of view they are considered to be innocent. If not, then the presumption of innocence until someone is proven guilty in a court of law would appear to be violated.

    By the way, all the best for when you head overseas.

  14. Bingo! You’ve got it, Damien. The ‘presumption of innocence’ is most frequently wheeled out these days to prevent trial by media, which – in light of James’ excellent media post at the top of the blog – is sadly all too common.

    It’s used during the trial for the most part because the jury has no handed down its verdict. The ‘presumptions’, such as they are, then change. But yes, to a non-lawyer a not guilty verdict can look like an affirmation of innocence.

    Thanks for your good wishes, too.

  15. James Farrell says:

    I think another source of confusion is that the press is fond of the formulation ‘the accused maintains his innocence’, and the defense counsel also often uses the term for rhetorical effect. So it’s easy for the lay person to forget that the jury is not being asked to determine whether the accused is innocent.

  16. Surely, given the concept of double jeopardy it is, at law, quite a bit stronger than that. Once someone is found “not guilty” of a crime, not only is the presumption of innocence retained but that person is now in a position unlike anyone else. Not only are they now presumed innocent but they are in the unique position of it not being legally possible that they will be prosecuted for and then found guilty of that particular crime – ever*.
    As far as legal findings go, this is the gold standard and puts the person found “not guilty” in a better position than the rest of us.
    .
    .
    * at least for crimes committed in Australia that do not amount to crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC – but this is a little out of the scope of this discussion and I will leave that for SL to pick up if she so chooses.

  17. Patrick says:

    I am not sure that double jeopardy is that absolute, and it would be incredible for someone found not guilty in Australia to be tried before the ICC – as I understand they would have no jurisdiction at all.

  18. ChrisPer says:

    I wonder if Howard’s invasion of aboriginal protection functions can be compared to his success with Gun laws?

    – It provided a whopping precedent for Federal meddling in State powers, including threats of referenda and withdrawal of funding for unrelated state services.
    – The huge chorus of approval from the media and most Australians surely helped build Howard’s belief in a ‘crash through’ strategy when he thinks he is doing something right.
    – It is a moral outrage issue, and forces antagonists to choose ‘the side of the angels’.

  19. Bill Posters says:

    Andrew Landeryou has a nuanced post

    Not likely.

    Not clicking through to check, either.

  20. Laura says:

    oh yes, that raised an eyebrow over here too.

  21. Patrick,
    In my understanding double jeopardy is that absolute (although SL or another lawyer may contradict).
    I brought up the ICC as, again, from my non-lawyer understanding, they may be able to try someone found not guilty in Australia of a war crime if the trial was a clear farce and just for show.
    Can’t see it happening here, but, from memory, that is about the only way to overcome the double jeopardy problem.
    The in the UK they have partially abandoned this in very limited circumstances – but that is another matter.

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