Showing posts with label justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label justice. Show all posts

Monday, 23 October 2017

Australian politics, law, justice and eligibility to sit as a federal parliamentarian

Excerpt from Ingrid Matthews’ article in Independent Australia, Hurrah! It's Section Forty-Forganza Week!, 12 October 2017:

There are two other general points to make about the media framing of this case. 
The first is the oft-foreshadowed possibility that those MPs who have not done so may be "forced to resign". This is supremely irritating, because no force is involved (unlike, say, how police handled a child here). Any resignation would be a function of the MP failing to comply with our Constitution and of the High Court doing its job.
The absence of force is important, because the biggest claim that common law liberal democracies like Australia make for our system is this: legal and political conflicts are settled in a "civilised" manner. With words, not fists. With elections, not coups. Using evidence and argument, not violence and vigilantism.
The rituals of legal process are imbued with this pretension to courteous resolution. But that is not how the law looks to Black people in prison cells and their families. Or to welfare recipients sent AFP-branded debt notices by Centrelink. We pay Barnaby Joyce over $1 million per three-year term, and thousands more in expenses, while aggressively pursuing the poorest people in society for petty or non-existent offences and debts.
This is not justice.
Similarly, the notion that the "High Court could bring down the Government" is erroneous. If Joyce is disqualified, it would be a product of Joyce’s oversight and not because the High Court exercised some previously unrealised prerogative power in a curial coup. Plus, there are crossbenchers in the Lower House. The member for Indi will support the Government on confidence and supply. Thus a shift from a majority to a minority government does not "bring down a government". Such a narrative is misleading and frankly embarrassing, given we had a minority government a mere four years ago.
In my view, if Joyce could discover and renounce New Zealand citizenship in 2017, he could have done so in 2004 when he nominated for the Senate, or in 2013 for the seat of New England (Wiki history here). This position is based in law and morality. To me it is simply wrong of Joyce to not ensure his eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament when he receives such enormous largesse from the Australian public to do so. I say largesse because I can not see any value-add to the national interest, any return on our investment, in Joyce and his travels.
So yes, the politics of this case are fascinating, but not necessarily in the ways that are offered up by political reporters. Constitutional law is a serious business, and the law is not a game.
Ingrid Matthews is a sessional academic who teaches law and human rights. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter at @iMusing or via her blog oecomuse.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Twenty-four years on and three Aboriginal children still have no justice

Between September 1990 and January 1991, Colleen Walker-Craig, aged 16, Evelyn Greenup, aged 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, aged 16, went missing from the same street in the small township of Bowraville. In early 1991, the bodies of Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux were found in bushland along the Congarinni Road on the outskirts of the town. Clothing belonging to Colleen Walker-Craig was also found in the Nambucca River running through the same area of bushland, however Colleen’s body has never been found. [NSWLC Standing Committee on Law and Justice, November 2014, The family response to the murders in Bowraville report]

No-one has ever been convicted of these crimes. In 2013 the media reported that the person the indigenous community has long suspected of the murders was now employed by an agency dealing with disadvantaged and troubled youth.

In 2014 the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice conducted an inquiry into the handling of the murders of these three NSW Mid-North Coast Aboriginal children and handed down its first report on 6 November, The family response to the murders in Bowraville, with a second report detailing the Government response due by 6 May 2015.

The report (together with transcripts of evidence, tabled documents, submissions, correspondence and answers to questions taken on notice) was tabled in the Legislative Council at 9.43am on 6 November 2014. Members and officers stood as a mark of respect.

Relatives of the murdered children were present in the parliament.

This first report can be found here.

There are fifteen recommendations it contains: