Christian dominionism in Australia

When the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils made a submission to a…

Unravelling Polliespeak

By Ad astraThis is a sequel to The ugly language of politics, published…

Report from the Asian Summits: From Official US…

Denis Bright invites comment on the significance of President Trump’s engagements with…

Day to Day Politics: “We need to know…

Monday 20 November 2017"Why do you need to write about it?" I…

Sydney firm launches major privacy class action

Media ReleaseA Sydney law firm is expected to launch one of Australia’s…

Grave fears for brain-injured refugee on Nauru

Refugee Action Coalition Media ReleaseUrgent surgery needed for brain-injured refugee on NauruA…

The Veiled Threat: Australia’s Campaign Against New Zealand…

Another twist in the farce over the stained treatment of refugees on…

Abbott’s down, but is he out?

By Ad astraTony Abbott has been on the way down for years.His…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: James Ashby

Someone told me…

The leader of One Nation in Queensland, Steve Dickson, has been forced to apologise over comments he made about the Safe Schools program in which he asserted that 10 year old girls were being taught, as part of the curriculum, how to masturbate and how to use strap-on dildos.

His apology was for using the word “dildos” rather than for telling outrageous lies.

He blamed a parent of a year four student for the erroneous information.

Because that’s what One Nation does.

Rather than actually finding out anything about the program from the people who developed the resources, or from the schools, teachers and students that have used them, or from the Department of Education on how they are used, PHON truth comes from “someone told me….”

Remember how, in the lead-up to the WA election, Pauline suggested vaccinations were linked to autism and that parents should have their children go through a non-existent test to evaluate vaccination safety.

After a barrage of outrage from medical bodies and others about this irresponsible and totally false information, Pauline apologised for being wrong….kinda.

‘Yes, I do apologise,’ she said. ‘As far as having tests done, OK, I admit I was wrong with that.’

‘All I’m saying to people that are concerned about it – you go and do your research, go ask questions of your doctor,’ she said.

Because someone told her…..

Malcolm Roberts has been replaced by Fraser Anning, another climate change denier.

On his now deactivated/hidden facebook page, Anning shared social media posts suggesting Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim and praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approach to “minorities” and Sharia law.

He also shared a cartoon with caption: “I was standing in a queue behind a very fat woman with a huge ar-e, when her phone starts to bleep. A little boy behind me says, “f––k me, she’s reversing”.

In a comical situation, Fraser Anning was kicked out of, or resigned from, Pauline’s party about an hour after being sworn in despite having been a loyal member for 20 years.

Anning said he was dragged into a meeting and berated like a schoolboy for not agreeing to step aside and for employing Malcolm Roberts’ staff, who Pauline banned from the meeting.

In what is becoming a frequent refrain from ex-One Nation candidates and officials, he blames James Ashby.

“I believe a lot of this is coming from James Ashby, who I think is the wrong person for her – or for anyone for that matter. I think there’s only one person James Ashby is interested in and that’s himself. She’s been manipulated before but I think this is the worst of all her advisers.  I guess he feels we’re some sort of threat to his ambitions.”

None of this is new for Pauline.

After the 1998 Queensland state election where 11 One Nation MPs were elected, within about 12 months they had all left the party – one quit, five created the City Country Alliance, four turned independent and the final MP created their own party of which they were the only member.

A vote for One Nation is a vote for a conglomeration of individuals who have personal beefs, very often based on misinformation and unwarranted fear, who focus more on ramping up anger than on thoughtful, evidence-based solutions.

It is a vote for James Ashby who seems to have survived countless scandals and who now makes all the decisions, making significant profit for himself along the way.  Pauline seems enthralled by him.

I understand Pauline’s appeal is based on the idea that she is not like other politicians, that she cares about the little people, that she tells the truth.

Politicians make the laws in this country.  They cannot be experts in everything they must deal with but they must be capable of seeking, understanding, and accepting expert advice.

“Someone told me” just doesn’t cut it.

Whistleblower goodies and baddies

When Kathy Jackson blew the whistle on Craig Thomson for misusing union funds, she was praised by various members of the Coalition.  Tony Abbott described her as “a brave decent woman”, a “credible whistleblower” whose actions were “heroic”.  Christopher Pyne labelled her a “revolutionary” who will be “remembered as a lion of the union movement.”  George Brandis and Eric Abetz were similarly effusive in their praise.

Kathy’s “courageous” revelations quickly led to Thomson being arrested by five detectives accompanied by a huge media pack at his Central Coast Office.  The following court cases eventually found Thomson was guilty of misappropriating a few thousand dollars.  His defence has cost him over $400,000, his career and reputation.  His prosecution, combined with the ensuing Royal Commission into trade unions and dedicated police task force, has cost the state tens of millions.

In 2012, Tony Abbott said “I think it’s to the enormous discredit of some people in the Labor movement that they are now trying to blacken [Kathy Jackson’s] name.”

Unfortunately for Mr Abbott, the investigation revealed that his hero has allegedly misappropriated far more than Craig Thomson could ever have dreamed of, well over $1 million by some accounts.  Despite the matter being referred to the Victorian police, Ms Jackson remains at large living a millionaire lifestyle.  No squad of police arriving at her door with media in tow.

We also had whistleblower James Ashby choosing to reveal private text messages to accuse Peter Slipper of sexual harassment, a charge he chose not to pursue after he had achieved the goal of destroying Mr Slipper’s career and personal life.

And then there was the “unknown” whistleblower who chose to refer Peter Slipper to the police for a few hundred dollars’ worth of cab charges rather than allowing him to pay back the money, something that many members of the Coalition, including Tony Abbott and George Brandis, have been forced to do.

The prosecution of Peter Slipper once again cost the state an amount totally incommensurate with the alleged crime and he has since won his appeal.

The Coalition’s very close relationship with these two dubious characters – Abetz had Jackson on speed dial and Pyne met up for “drinks” with Ashby – shows they had a vested interest in encouraging their revelations.

But when Freya Newman chose to reveal that Tony Abbott’s daughter had been given a $60,000 scholarship that was not available to anyone else, she was immediately investigated, prosecuted and put on a good behaviour bond.  The fact that Frances Abbott’s school was a Liberal Party donor who then benefitted greatly by Abbott’s decision to fund private colleges makes the whole thing smell of corruption.

Speaking of which, when a former ASIO employee chose to blow the whistle on Alexander Downer for, under the guise of foreign aid, bugging the offices of the government of Timor l’Este to gain a commercial advantage for Woodside Petroleum who subsequently employed Mr Downer, he immediately had his passport revoked so he could not testify in the case in the International Court and the office of his lawyer was raided and all documents confiscated.

When the Guardian and the ABC reported on leaked documents from Edward Snowden revealing that the Australian Government had bugged the phones of Indonesian politicians and even the President’s wife, they were labelled as traitors by Tony Abbott who apparently thought there was nothing wrong with the deed but talking about it was a crime.

Which brings me to, in my mind, the greatest travesty of all.

When ten members of the Save the Children organisation reported on cases of sexual assault and self-harm of children on Nauru, they were immediately sacked by Scott Morrison.

When the group made a submission to the AHRC’s children in detention inquiry providing evidence of sexual abuse, the Department of Immigration asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate Save The Children for potentially breaching section 70 of the Crimes Act, which bars the disclosure of Commonwealth facts or documents.

A secret report prepared by immigration detention service provider Transfield Services reveals the company was monitoring the activities of Save The Children staff, then accused them of providing evidence to the media of sexual assaults and protests in the detention centre.  It reveals that Save The Children staff had compiled reports documenting evidence of sexual assault, which it said had become “increasingly emotive in recent weeks”.

“Two days ago, information report 280917 was written in such a manner by SCA employees, DE and FF, and some of the allegations regarding sexually inappropriate behaviour by security guards contained within this report have been widely reported across Australian media today. DE left Nauru yesterday and the allegations have appeared in the press today.”

The Transfield report also alleges that “It is probable there is a degree of internal and external coaching, and encouragement, to achieve evacuations to Australia through self-harm actions,” though it gives no evidence at all in support of the accusation, which did not stop Scott Morrison and the Daily Telegraph from publicly repeating it last October.

Morrison’s reaction was to announce the Moss Review to examine allegations that staff from the charity acted inappropriately at the Nauru detention centre.

The Moss review, which is due to be released tomorrow, examined why 10 Save the Children aid workers were sent home from the detention centre and whether they fabricated allegations of sexual abuse.

As with the Human Rights Commission’s Forgotten Children report, the message has been ignored and the messenger has been relentlessly pursued and vilified.

In the corporate world, the Corporations Act contains protections for certain whistleblowers, including making it unlawful to persecute a whistleblower for making a protected disclosure of information. This protection encourages people within companies, or with special connections to companies, to alert the company (through its officers), or ASIC, to illegal behaviour.

Where is the same protection for people who alert us to wrongdoing by the government or its agents?  Why does Morrison accept Transfield’s report but not that of the Human Rights Commission?  Will the Moss Review investigate the sexual abuse or just the people who are trying to Save the Children?

A government who is happy to destroy people’s lives for their own political ends, who silences all criticism, and who considers their own interests in front of the welfare of children in our care, is worthy of the same contempt they show for the truth.

We are being governed by a despicable group of people who have sacrificed all decency and integrity to personal ambition.

asylum seeker children protest on Nauru

asylum seeker children protest on Nauru

Lawmakers or lawbreakers?

The Readers Digest list of the 50 most trusted professions in Australia ranks lawyers at 39 and politicians at 49 just scraping in in front of door-to-door salespeople and two places behind call centre staff.

Considering these are the people who make, and prosecute, our laws, this is a sad indictment.

The record of the Abbott government ministers with regard to the law makes one wonder if they may just consider themselves above it all.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis is continuing to be mentioned at ICAC.  Not only was he involved in shady dealings when at Australian Water Holdings, he is now implicated in emails (that his lawyers tried to have suppressed) from chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta Credlin.  As Sinodinis was Finance Director (2009 to 2011) and President (since 2011) for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, it is hard to believe he knew nothing of the laundering of donations through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Credlin and Loughnane appear to be in on the act, and Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott have also been named, the former for redirecting funding through her Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust and the latter for his association with Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks who were advocating for the repeal of the carbon tax.

In May, the SMH published an article stating that

“Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.

Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.

The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body run by Mr Hockey’s North Sydney Federal Electoral Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members are rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private boardrooms.”

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.  Both these groups have benefitted from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.

Despite accepting huge donations from bodies with obvious vested interests and loudly articulated demands – mining companies, property developers, financial institutions, hotel and gambling bodies, hospitality industry – Tony Abbott said

“The thing is that we’re going to keep the lobbyists out [of politics]. And the problem that ICAC is exposing is a problem of lobbying, essentially its influence peddling . . . and we’re going to make sure that that has no place whatsoever federally.”

Last night’s edition of 60 minutes showed Mal Brough, by his own admission, directed the stealing of a copy of Peter Slipper’s diary.  James Ashby also stated he was offered employment and legal costs by Christopher Pyne who has always denied any knowledge or involvement.  And now, boy wonder Wyatt Roy is dragged into the fray.  Somebody is/has been fibbing.

It would be very interesting to know who filed the complaint with the Australian Federal Police after Mal Brough went through Slipper’s diary and when the complaint was filed.  There has been some suggestion that is was ex-defender of bigots, Attorney-General George Brandis.

When faced with action in the International Court over Alexander Downer’s bugging of the East Timor Parliamentary offices to gain confidential trade information for a subsequent employer, Brandis reacted by raiding the offices of the lawyer for East Timor, confiscating the evidence and the passport of the key witness.

If laws get in the way, bypass them or abolish them.

In June, the court upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program, saying providing funding directly to chaplaincy organisations was constitutionally invalid.  To get around that, the federal government will give a quarter of a billion to the states, insisting they must employ only religious chaplains.

Despite 72 per cent of Australians wanting same-sex marriage legalised, one of Brandis’ first acts was to challenge, and overturn, the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage laws.  Why?  Because he could is all I can come up with.

I am sure Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews were demanding this ‘depravity’ be abolished.

A poll in 2009 showed that 85 per cent of the country is in favour of voluntary euthanasia but that will never happen while Kevin Andrews has a driving seat in the Star Chamber.

In 1997, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz were members of the Coalition’s fundamentalist Christian faction, the Lyons Forum, who were successful in overturning the Northern Territory’s historic voluntary euthanasia law.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the recently decorated compassionate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also has an affinity with the law.  Before we were paying for her Armani suits she was busy representing CSR (amongst other “dodgy” corporate clients) famously asking the court “why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Our Environment Minister Greg Hunt has overseen the roll back of environmental protection laws to facilitate his approval of coal mining.

The Federal Government’s handover of environmental approval powers to the states for development projects will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

At the same time, state governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.

This is a crime that will certainly saddle our children with perhaps insurmountable problems.

And in perhaps the most heinous example of disregard for the law, morality, justice and humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is currently considering a submission calling for an investigation into Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.  The submission was officially accepted by the ICC on May 19, 2014, and it names Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.  Similar complaints have been lodged with the United Nations.  Let’s hope they can compel our government to accept their legal obligations even if they are bereft of ethics.

hague

New James Ashby scandal could ‘rock’ Abbott Government

Author’s Note:

60 Minutes (Channel 9’s) current affairs program will on Sunday night air an interview with James Ashby. The promotional teaser doing the rounds of social media suggests that the program will reveal a secret plot that will “rock the Abbott Government”.

The language used in the teaser is provocatively inviting for those, like me, who have followed the case closely, and have been appalled by the alleged plot to dismiss an elected government.

In the teaser there is combined image of Liberal MPs Mal Brough, Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne and Wyatt Roy and the voiceover saying “what happened behind closed doors” before a cut to journalist Liz Hayes saying to Ashby “This is dynamite, you agree?”. Ashby says “yes”.

The interview is said to be pretty explosive, with references to a “secret plot”, new sexual harassment claims and the promise that “finally, the whistleblower reveals all”.

Often these sorts of promotions can fizz out to nothing of substance but it I hope for the sake of our democracy that all is revealed. What follows is the piece I wrote following the upholding of an appeal against Justice Rares’ findings.

It has remained a mystery as to why Ashby dropped the case when he could have had his day in court. My guess is that the conservative forces used James Ashby in an attempt to bring down the Gillard Government. They financed the plot and when it failed they left Ashby high and dry and in debt. Now it’s payback time.

Has Ashby Closed the Gate?

In 1975 as a youngish fervent supporter of Labor and democracy I was disgusted when an unelected Governor General sacked an elected Prime Minister. That constitutional crisis left me somewhat shattered and politically disillusioned. When it died down I thought I would never see anything similar again in my lifetime. But in November 2012 the shit did hit the fan again and my outrage was ignited once more.

James Ashby bought a sexual harassment case against the speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper. The Judge hearing the case Justice Rares found that in essence the case was politically motivated, vexatious, and among other things an abuse of process. In effect he said that the case was an attempt to bring down the speaker and damage his reputation.

I was outraged. I have been following politics for more years that I care to remember. Never in all that time had a political party been accused of trying to use the courts to destroy a government. I will repeat that in case the reader loses the magnitude of the statement.

“Never in all that time had a political party been accused of trying to use the courts to bring down a government”.

Justice Rares in his judgement determined this to be so.

Without wishing to labour the point. Does the reader fully grasp the implication of the judge’s ruling? He described it was an abuse of process. This was not only the conservatives trying to bring down Labor but democracy its self.

Why on earth if Ashby felt threatened by slipper wouldn’t he run it past all the available avenues open to him? And all he could ever hope for in terms of compensation would be $30,000 or thereabouts. There is after all a rule known as the “Genuine Steps Rule” This is a procedure introduced in 2011 that requires parties to try and sort out their disputes before taking court action. In this case, the Judge questioned why a relatively minor matter like sexual harassment claims could not have been settled another way. Why then would he be going to court knowing that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to redeem that amount? Simply doesn’t make sense. Or a bit sus as we say in Australia. Unless it has some sinister political motivation.

The claim by James Ashby was taken by the main stream media as an invitation to be rid of the speaker and a government they detested. Consequently the Murdoch Press went after Slipper like Pit Bull terriers to a bear. Thinking they had the bear by the balls they were all over the story painting Slipper as the villain with page upon page of despicable tabloid commentary.

Then came Justice Rare’s ruling. A ruling totality unexpected by the Murdoch press. The tabloids relegated the story to the back pages adjoining the sports columns never to be heard of again. By their silence and lying by omission the main stream media decided to join the conspiracy.

David Marr described it thus:

“This has been the great disappearing scandal of Australian politics”.

Then a leave to appeal notice was lodged with the full bench of Federal Court by James Ashby and his solicitor Michael Harmer against the ruling by Justice Stephen Rares. The Federal Court agreed to hear the Leave to appeal and the Appeal concurrently.

If the court were to uphold Rare’s original verdict the repercussions would have been very serious indeed. The Federal Police would be compelled to investigate. They had been reluctant to do so although there was nothing to stop them. It is yet another mystery in this sorry saga. Brough, Pyne, Abbott and many others (especially from Queensland) would have to answer some very pertinent questions and explain the many lies told so far.

David Marr wrote:

“Tony Abbott also has a stake in the appeal. He has stood by Brough despite his friend being caught trying to hide his role in the campaign to destroy Slipper. Abbott has never criticised his part in the operation. Despite Brough’s lies, he praises his candour: “I want to make it clear that Mal has been very upfront about his involvement in this”.

The involvement of journalist Steve Lewis and News Limited would certainly have come into question. On the other hand if they should decide to give Ashby his day in court the effect would be much the same. Everything would be revealed.

Then came the appeal ruling.

The full bench of the Federal Court in February of this year overruled Justice Rares finding that the case was an:

“abuse of process” designed to cause “significant public, reputational and political damage”.
“We are satisfied that the evidence before the primary judge did not warrant the adverse finding said to constitute an abuse of the court’s process on the two bases found and did not warrant the rejection by his Honour of the sworn and unchallenged evidence of each of Ashby and Harmer.”

The decision meant the case would now proceed to a full hearing.
Mr Ashby had this to say after the court’s ruling:

‘’The case has never been politically based’’
“I’ve always believed the original court decision was wrong. It was unjust and not based on all the facts,” Mr Ashby said.
“We will now continue with the legal fight and my chance to obtain justice for my original claim’’

Then on June 17 he dropped it all. Why?

He gave these reasons:

Mr Ashby said he was aware of reports Mr Slipper was mentally unwell and he did not want to continue lengthy proceedings that could cause further harm.

“After deep reflection and consultation with those close to me, I now have decided to seek leave to discontinue my Federal Court action against Peter Slipper,” he said in a statement.
“This has been an intense and emotionally draining time for me and my family, taking its toll on us all.”

What bullshit. Someone with deep pockets funded Ashby and if his case was well founded and his accusation of sexual harassment sincere why wouldn’t he proceed. There can only be one reason or perhaps two. He was reimbursed for not doing so and the LNP were shit frightened of what might come out in open court.

Ashbygate had the potential to be the greatest political scandal in Australia’s history. The public should have been outraged at this attempt to bring down an elected government. The Main Stream Media thus far have treated the scandal with a disinterest that borders on journalist incompetence or deliberate neglect.

I am still outraged by this sinister event in Australia’s political history. To think that politicians could so treat our democracy with such distain sickens me. Our citizens should rise above party politics and see this attempt to bring down the speaker and the government for the conspiracy that it was.

It is incumbent on the next Labor Government to announce a Royal Commission into this sordid affair.

Here is a link to Slippers response.

When the Shit Hits the Fan

Fan

When the shit hits the fan

In 1975 as a youngish fervent supporter of Labor and democracy I was disgusted when an unelected Governor General sacked an elected Prime Minister. That constitutional crisis left me somewhat shattered and politically disillusioned. When it died down I thought I would never see anything similar again in my lifetime. But in November 2012 the shit did hit the fan again and my outrage was ignited once more.

James Ashby bought a sexual harassment case against the speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper. The Judge hearing the case Justice Rares found that in essence the case was politically motivated, vexatious, and among other things an abuse of process. In effect he said that the case was an attempt to bring down the speaker and damage his reputation.

I was outraged. I have been following politics for more year’s that I care to remember. Never in all that time had a political party been accused of trying to use the courts to destroy a government. I will repeat that in case the reader loses the magnitude of the statement.

’’Never in all that time had a political party been accused of trying to use the courts to bring down a government.’’

Justice Rares in his judgement determined this to be so.

Without wishing to labour the point. Does the reader fully grasp the implication of the judge’s ruling? He described it as an abuse of process. This was not only the conservatives trying to bring down Labor but democracy its self.

Why on earth if Ashby felt threatened by slipper wouldn’t he run it past all the available avenues open to him? And all he could ever hope for in terms of compensation would be $30,000 or thereabouts. There is after all a rule known as the “Genuine Steps Rule” This is a procedure introduced in 2011 that requires parties to try and sort out their disputes before taking court action. In this case, the Justice’s questioned why a relatively minor matter like sexual harassment claims could not have been settled another way. Why then would he be going to court knowing that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to redeem that amount? Simply doesn’t make sense. Or a bit sus as we say in Australia. Unless it has some sinister political motivation.

The claim by James Ashby was taken by the main stream media as an invitation to be rid of the speaker and a government they detested. Consequently the Murdoch Press went after Slipper like Pit Bull terriers to a bear. Thinking they had the bear by the balls they were all over the story painting Slipper as the villain with page upon page of despicable tabloid commentary.

Then came Justice Rares’ ruling. A ruling totality unexpected by the Murdoch press.The tabloids relegated the story to the back pages adjoining the sports columns never to be heard of again. By their silence and lying by omission the main stream media decided to join the conspiracy. David Marr described it thus.

“This has been the great disappearing scandal of Australian politics”

Then a leave to appeal notice was lodged with the full bench of Federal Court by James Ashby and his solicitor Michael Harmer against the ruling by Justice Stephen Rares. The Federal Court agreed to hear the Leave to appeal and the Appeal concurrently.

The ruling of the three senior judges of the federal court: John Gilmour, Antony Siopis and John Mansfield’ is imminent and the shit one way or another is about to hit the fan. I have written at length about the two day appeals hearing suffice to say that the matter is now being considered by the Full Court. These are the options they have before them.

1. Neither leave to appeal is successful and the Rare’s decision stands;
2. Harmer’s leave to appeal is unsuccessful but Ashby‘s leave to appeal is successful but Ashby loses the appeal and the Rare’s decision stands;
3. Harmer’s leave to appeal is unsuccessful but Ashby wins both his leave to appeal and the appeal itself. The result is that the trial of Ashby v Slipper is then heard in full;
4. Harmer and Ashby win their leave to appeal, but lose the appeal proper and the Rare’s ruling stands.

Rulings of this sort can in law be full of surprises and unpredictability however my lawyer friends tell me that Rare’s ruling was made on very solid grounds.

If the court upholds Rare’s original verdict the repercussions would be very serious indeed. The Federal Police would be compelled to investigate. They have been reluctant to do so to date although there is nothing to stop them. It is yet another mystery in this sorry saga. Brough, Pyne, Abbott and many others (especially from Queensland) would have to answer some very pertinent questions and explain the many lies told so far. David Marr writes

‘’Tony Abbott also has a stake in the appeal. He has stood by Brough despite his friend being caught trying to hide his role in the campaign to destroy Slipper. Abbott has never criticised his part in the operation. Despite Brough’s lies, he praises his candour: “I want to make it clear that Mal has been very upfront about his involvement in this.”

The involvement of journalist Steve Lewis and News Limited would certainly come into question. On the other hand if they should decide to give Ashby his day in court the effect would be much the same with those involved having to give evidence under oath in an open court. The shit would still hit the fan.

Make no mistake. This has the potential to be the greatest political scandal in Australia’s history. The public should be outraged at this attempt to bring down an elected government. How it plays out will largely depend on the attitude of the Main Stream Media. Thus far they have treated the scandal with a disinterest that borders on journalist incompetence or deliberate neglect. At least online sites such as ‘’Independent Australia’’ have never let go of the scandal and have raised a considerable amount of public funds to pursue the story. David Marr has written an excellent summary of this scandal for The Guardian that spells out the events as they occurred.

I am still outraged by this sinister event in Australia’s political history. To think that politicians could so treat our democracy with such disdain sickens me. Our citizens should rise above party politics and see this attempt to bring down the speaker and the government for the conspiracy that it was.

We can only wonder what will happen if and when the shit hits the fan.

 

James Ashby Appeal Update

The James Ashby ‘Leave to Appeal’ came on a little earlier than I expected. The two-day hearing is now complete and we await the decision of the three judges. The purpose of this piece is to point out or highlight some of the more memorable events and how much they might affect the outcome. In doing so, it is important to remember that the application for leave to appeal and the appeal were being heard concurrently. The Justices of the Full Court of the Federal Court are Messrs Mansfield, Siopis and Gilmore.

Day one

Michael Lee SC is representing James Ashby and argues that Justice Rares made three errors in his judgement. Resulting in James Ashby not being able to present his case in full.

Because mainstream media are not reporting the appeal, I have sought to reference from other sources and I have lent heavily on Margo Kingston and Joan Evatt from Australians For Honest Politics.

Firstly that the finding of an abuse of process by Rares J was flawed as the seriousness of those finding required an onus that was a ‘heavy one’. Rares J needed to be ‘cautious’ in his consideration of this issue and, according to Mr. Lee, Justice Rares wasn’t.

Mr. Lee further argued that Justice Rares adopted an ‘impressionistic view’ about Mr Ashby’s involvement in a conspiracy to harm Mr Slipper with inferences being drawn that compromised the fact-finding process.

The third error in the Rares decision, according to Mr. Lee, involved the conduct of Mr. Ashby’s solicitor, Mr. Harmer. This was dealt with comparatively briefly as counsel, David Pritchard SC., is separately representing Mr. Harmer, now a party to the appeal.

Lee SC raised other matters about Justice Rarest rejection of unchallenged evidence. Remember Mr. Slipper represented himself and elected not to cross-examine Michael Harmer. Apparently, when people represent themselves the law can become a little bit muddled and in this case, matters of procedure might have some bearing on the outcome of the appeal.

Another complication in these proceedings is that Mr. Ashby’s lawyer Michael Harmer who was harshly condemned by Rares is also seeking leave to appeal.

Yet another point addressed by the three member panel was the “Genuine Steps Rule” This is a procedure introduced in 2011 that requires parties to try to sort out their disputes before taking court action. In this case, the Justice’s questioned why a relatively minor matter like sexual harassment claims could not have been settled another way. Like why didn’t he in the first instance complain to his employer.

The atmosphere in the court at times is reported to have been electric. Joan Evatt from Australians for Honest Politics reports that (quote):

At one stage, Mr. Pritchard was asked the $64,000 question: the matter of payment to Mr. Harmer. It was the question by Justice Siopis that caused head-turning consternation at the bar table and was never really answered. Siopis J wanted to know if there would be an apparent difference if Mr. Harmer was ‘an investor in the proceedings?’ The spluttering silence of both legal counsels was his reply, and the question wasn’t pursued.

Day Two

Peter Slipper’s turn.

Represented by Ian Neil QC
First up Neil hones in on the genuine steps issue and as to why Ashby had not pursued all the avenues open to him. He then argues that Justice Rares decision was the correct one. The panel subjects him too much questioning but he stands firm and addresses nine subject headings from the written submissions of Ashby and Harmer.

After that some, important matters arise that well may have a major bearing on the outcome. These are best understood by again quoting Joan Evatt at length:

At no stage did Mr. Neil show any impatience with or discomfiture by this morning’s proceedings. It is worth noting that he did not wilt under the pressure either, but continued to argue the merits of his case.

Neil started his oral submission considering the questions of procedural fairness as raised in the Ashby submission. In his decision Rares J is satisfied Slipper established that Mr. Ashby had combined with one or more of the persons named as part of the conspiracy that would result in his finding ‘an abuse of the process’.

Justice Gilmour asked whether it only related to Mr. Harmer. Mr. Neil’s answer took the court down a grammatical path. A definitive “No Your Honor” was his response. The relevant paragraph in Rares’s decision ‘has to relate conjunctively/disjunctively with each, some or all of the persons named . . . It’s inelegant English but it’s not bad syntax and its meaning is clear.’ His Honour didn’t continue asking questions about sentence structure.

The grammar lesson set the tone of the rest of the morning’s hearings.

Rares J found in his decision that Mr. Harmer wasn’t part of the conspiracy to abuse the process of justice – that he was an innocent party in bringing the court into disrepute. However, Rares was very critical of the ‘professional conduct’ of Mr. Harmer, commencing with his drafting of the originating application.

Justice Siopis asked whether it was legitimate to question the decision’s criticisms and their severity of Mr. Harmer on professional grounds. Mr. Neil replied that Mr. Harmer was ultimately responsible for both the 2003 allegations and the Cabcharge allegations being included in Mr. Ashby’s originating application. Both of these allegations were abandoned in Mr. Ashby’s 15th May 2012 statement of claim.

Of course, by then these allegations had become front-page news, as they formed part of the originating application.

Peter Slipper and his wife Inge leave the Federal Court in Sydney.

Suddenly we were off track again and trying to ascertain Mr. Harmer’s purpose in the inclusion of both the 2003 allegations and the Cabcharge allegations in the originating application. Neil was steely in arguing that there was just no legitimate forensic purpose to the inclusion of 2003 allegations. It is just ‘salacious detail’ with no illegality or wrongdoing on Mr. Slipper’s part, and ‘which can’t give rise to any legal consequences or any cause of action.’

Bounce. Bounce. Suddenly the court’s in the middle of discussing Mr. Ashby’s predominant purpose which Rares found, after looking through a truckload of text messages and emails, to be the intention of bringing Mr. Slipper into disrepute.

Mr. Slipper was representing himself when these issues were raised before Justice Rares. Mr. Harmer went into the witness-box, and Mr. Ashby could have been called by Mr. Slipper, but wasn’t. Both men were not cross-examined by Slipper as to their intent. All their Honours have raised, through thorough questioning, the lack of cross-examination by Slipper of both Ashby and Harmer, which would indicate it could be a problem.

The difficulty of hearing concurrently both an application for leave to appeal and the substantive appeal itself, was made abundantly clear when Mr. Neil suddenly raised arguments against Mr. Harmer being given leave to appeal the Rares decision.

The morning came alive, and stayed on topic when Mr. Neil raised the question of Mr. Harmer’s ability to appeal as a non-party. He argued that Mr. Harmer didn’t have a ‘sufficient interest’ in the matter to appeal.

Neil argued that despite the fact the Rares J raises questions with regard to the professional conduct of Mr. Harmer, such findings in themselves have no legal effect. The right to appeal can only happen if and when orders were made against Mr. Harmer. They haven’t.

Neil went on to state ‘there is no authority anywhere’ that supports a non-party being given leave to appeal if he doesn’t have ‘sufficient interest’ nor does Mr. Harmer meet any of the tests outlined in the Federal Court Rules, 2011.

The implication of Mr. Neil’s point was clear. If their Honors grant Mr. Harmer leave to appeal, they will be creating a precedent that could well open the floodgates to aggrieved third parties who may be mentioned adversely in findings.

For the first time in the morning’s session, their Honours became very quiet as the implication of Neil’s point sank in.

The remainder of Mr. Neil’s arguments in support of the Rares decision seemed almost inconsequential by comparison. It dealt with the General Steps Statement and the matter of Ashby’s perceived urgency.

The right of reply by both Mr. Lee and Mr. Pritchard were thankfully brief. Mr. Pritchard endeavoured to counter Neil’s arguments against granting Mr. Harmer leave to appeal. He raised the issue of natural justice, which had already been dealt with by Neil in his original written submissions.

Mr. Neil earned his money today.

The matter is now for the consideration of the Full Court. These are the options they have before them.
1. Neither leave to appeal is successful and the Rares decision stands;
2. Harmer’s leave to appeal is unsuccessful but Ashby ‘s leave to appeal is successful but Ashby loses the appeal and the Rares decision stands;
3. Harmer’s leave to appeal is unsuccessful but Ashby wins both his leave to appeal and the appeal itself. The result is that the trial of Ashby v Slipper is then heard in full;
4. Harmer and Ashby win their leave to appeal, but lose the appeal proper and the Rares decision stands;
5. Harmer and Ashby win both their leave to appeal and the appeal proper. The result is that the trial of Ashby v Slipper is then heard in full. Slipper will be open for legal costs from Harmer as well as Ashby.

Whatever the outcome is the shit is yet to hit the fan. And the other question at the conclusion will be. How seriously will the mainstream media report all this? When the justices will deliver, their verdict is unknown. STAY TUNED.

Ashby

James Ashby (image from news.com.au)

Spinach or shit?

Spinach vs ShitA friend recently sent me a classic Tweet:

‘Voting for Tony Abbott because you don’t like Julia Gillard is like eating shit because you hate spinach’.

Fine, some people don’t like Gillard (spinach). They don’t like her voice. They don’t like her hair. They don’t like her glasses. They don’t like her boyfriend. They don’t like her marriage status. They don’t like her lack of religion. They don’t like her gender. They don’t like her. Fine. Some people are unhappy with some of Labor’s policies. I get it. It’s absolutely understandable that you don’t like everything the Labor party does. Neither do I. I like most of it. And I like some of it very much. But not all of it. Big deal. The odd thing is, every time these shit-eaters are asked why they are eating shit, they just go on and on about hating spinach. It’s quite irrational.

SpinachTweet

Let me say first up, I quite like spinach, especially with feta, so this is an easy choice for me. But there do seem to be quite a few people in Australia who are absolutely hell bent on rejecting the healthy spinach option, and haven’t even considered the side effects of eating shit instead. Let’s have a closer look at the alternatives in a few important areas of political policy.

Climate policy

There has been a lot of fascination over the last few years in Gillard’s determination to bring in an ETS, and her supposed lie of bringing in a Carbon Price instead. Never mind that Gillard quite clearly is doing what she promised, and bringing in an ETS, with the Carbon Price used in the interim to compromise with the Greens to form a minority government. Either way, if you’re a shit-eater who hates the Carbon Price, have you ever had a look at the shit alternative?

Ever heard of Abbott’s Direct Action Policy? In this fantastic post on the Political Sword, Ad astra asks some very good questions about this shit policy. It’s probably not your fault that you know little about Direct Action, considering how pathetic the mainstream media’s scrutiny of this policy has been. But if you can’t be bothered seeking it out, and haven’t even thought about the alternative once the Carbon Price is ‘axed’, it’s important that you know you are not being offered zero action against climate change. What you are being offered by Abbott is a shit, no details policy that will cost tax-payers $1,300 per household, per year. Considering the bleating about larger electricity bills, you’d think $1,300 per household would raise some eyebrows. And even worse, no one has been able to confirm that this policy will even reduce emissions, when the Carbon Price is already effectively doing this. So Direct Action is expensive and possibly won’t work. It’s funding coal instead of research and development into sustainable energies. It’s bullshit. And Abbott hasn’t even explained how he will fund it. If you’re going to hate the Carbon Price, the least you can do is justify this hatred with a love for Direct Action instead. And if you can’t muster love, at least be informed. Rather than ranting about ‘Gillard lying’ as if this is some sort of critique of the Carbon Price, when deep down it’s clear you don’t believe in climate change and therefore can’t understand why action needs to be taken, at least give it five seconds thought. Have a think about how it will taste to eat shit.

The NBN

Surely you can see how desperately embarrassed Malcolm Turnbull is of his party’s shit alternative to the Labor government’s National Broadband Network. If Turnbull can’t get excited about a crap alternative to a superior network, why on earth should you be excited about it? Labor’s NBN is going to cost $37.4 billion and will offer super-fast broadband to homes and businesses Australia wide. Turnbull and Abbott’s shit NBN will cost $29.5 billion, and will only supply not as fast broadband, to businesses in metro areas, and households who can afford up to $5,000 to connect. Murdoch is happy with this policy. It keeps his Foxtel TV subscriptions monopolizing the market for many years to come. It’s no wonder the Liberal’s launched their policy at Fox Studios, just to show Rupey how much they care. So you shit-eaters, when Telstra’s copper gives out and you’re left without any broadband, let alone the not so fast version that you paid through the nose to connect to, and when giant fridge units turn up on your pavement, will you at least do us spinach eaters the courtesy of admitting you’ve been eating shit?

Gonski Education Funding Reform

So you’re not happy about the Gonski school funding model? You don’t want extra money from the Federal Government for schools to provide a more equitable standard of education for all Australians, regardless of family wealth? Fine. So what do you think of the alternative? Christopher Pyne, the so called Shadow Education Minister, who wouldn’t recognise a good education if it was gifted to him, claims that:

“too much money has been wasted on reducing class sizes and that instead there should be more focus on the quality of teaching.”

Pyne also thinks the 5 – 15% of teachers, who he describes as ‘not up to scratch’ should be sacked. Apparently he thinks sacking teachers helps education quality. I guess the spinach eaters in this case would have to be those who value the benefits of a good education for all, whereas the shit-eaters just want to see the government cut, slash and burn spending with the selfish hope they’ll be left with a few extra dollars in their pocket each week through a tax break, and if that means larger classes, less teachers and lower quality education system, so be it. Sorry to tell you, those eating shit, that a short term tax decrease at the expense of quality education will just end up costing us all. Please think about this before picking up your spoon.

King of the Scandal

If you relied on the mainstream media for all your news, you might think the Labor party is the party of scandal and smear. You might think the most newsworthy political event in the last twelve months was a nasty misogynist blogger urging an incompetent, biased, idea-free press into beating up a story about the Prime Minister, surrounding unproven wrongdoing by her boyfriend 20 years ago. You might therefore have missed that Abbott was sued this week over his own little slush-fund affair, which he used to destroy the career of his right-wing rival, Pauline Hanson. It’s amazing how the mainstream media and their shit-eating cheer-squad change their tune about truth, public-interest and political scandal when it comes to Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party.

You might also think ex-Liberal Peter Slipper was the most corrupt in James Ashby’s sexual harassment case. Again, the mainstream media would have you believe this to be the case. The mainstream media don’t want you to know that the real rat is Ashby. And Abbott’s pre-selected friend Mal Brough. So while you’re complaining about the problems with spinach, think how silly you’ll look, when you realise just how badly you’ve been duped. Duped by the mainstream media. Duped by the rich vested interests of Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch who have every reason to promote the eating of shit over spinach for their own self-interest.

So you hate Julia Gillard? Can you at least understand why I’m not just asking you to stop eating shit? I’m also asking you to stop forcing others into a shit-eating situation which is not of their own making. Don’t elect Abbott as Prime Minister. I don’t care if you don’t like spinach. Disliking spinach does not justify a vote for Abbott. Grow up and think of the alternative.

UPDATE: Original spinach or shit Tweet was by Geezlouise (@Turlow1)

GeezlouiseTweet

 

Scroll Up