A letter to the Federal Police Commissioner re the problem of political “gravity/sensitivity” in case selection and management.

Attention: Commissioner Tony Negus

When studying business management, one of the core principles expounded by lecturers was that “the only constant faced by business is Change, therefore no decision should ever set in concrete”. Change means that decisions are reviewed, evaluated and, where appropriate, altered to best fit the changing circumstances. To set a decision in concrete and to refuse to change when circumstances do is to flirt with disaster. Perhaps the best real world example of this is the recent joint attempt by the Labour Party and the Liberal Party in South Australia to sneak Internet censorship legislation through the SA Parliament. When the people of South Australia were informed of this insidious attack upon their freedom of speech by a local newspaper, The Advertiser, there was an instant Internet outpouring of rage that within hours had swept around the globe. Twelve hours later, a very humiliated and chastised SA Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, announced the legislation would not be enforced and would be revoked when Parliament resumed after the March 20th state election.

I have given you that little lecture because I am asking you to review and change the decision made in July 2004 not to investigate the political corruption issues that I raised with Mick Keelty. I do so because there has been a paradigm change in circumstances that could potentially see you, like Michael Atkinson, facing TV cameras and apologizing to 3 million welfare recipients for allowing political “gravity/sensitivity” to influence the AFP’s case management policies and procedures. There is a whole new ballgame and you need to adapt now to the new circumstances because the victims of your partisan policing are now discovering what you have done.

There are many factors that have contributed to this change in circumstances. The most recent being Tony Abbott’s call for Peter Garrett to face Industrial Manslaughter charges. Whilst the Liberal Party and its supporters may applaud that comment and regard it as a master stroke, it may well prove to be an act of political suicide. In making that comment, Tony Abbott appears to have forgotten the old adage that “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”. If it is reasonable to call for Peter Garrett to be charged over the deaths of four insulation installers, then it is logical to call for the Howard Government ministers involved in the breaching quota deaths to also be held account before the courts for those deaths. When it comes to the breaching quota deaths, disregarding all the other post breaching deaths concealed from Parliament and the public by bureaucrats and politicians, we are not looking at just four, nor forty deaths; not even four hundred deaths. Rather we are looking at a four figure death toll for which John Howard and his Employment and Social Security ministers must also be held accountable in the same manner that Peter Garrett is held accountable.

The decision by Commissioner Keelty not to investigate these deaths is totally inexplicable. In 2002, Amanda Vanstone and Tony Abbott unintentionally made it possible to define breaching as a criminal act of reckless endangerment. At the time of my request to investigate these deaths, not one of these deaths had been reported to Parliament, Cheryl Kernot’s press release of July 4th 2000 contained specific details of the Howard Government’s breaching quotas and Centrelink whistleblowers had testified to the Independent Pearce Inquiry that they were being forced to meet breaching quotas. The impact of the breaching quota campaign was clearly evident in Centrelink’s annual reports. In FY 2000-2001, 346,078 breaches were issued which represented an incredible 3 breaches per minute for every hour of every working day for that entire financial year! It was manifestly evident that a forensic review of breaching data, including the unreported breaching deaths, along with interviews of Cheryl Kernot and Professor Denis Pearce, were essential before an informed decision on how to treat my complaint could be made. This evaluation did not happen!

No investigation of these deaths and the others issues raised occurred. However, as soon as the Howard Government gained control of the Senate in July 2005, the Howard Government fast tracked the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 legislation through Parliament with indecent haste and an absolute minimum of public debate. There is thus strong circumstantial evidence that in exchange for not investigating the breaching triggered deaths, the Howard Government “rewarded” the Federal Police with draconian new police powers.

As you are aware, I have been raising these issues for some time but so far, no one has sued me for Defamation.

  1. John Howard and some of his ministers could have sued me over their well reported role in the Travelgate Scandal and the possibility that those actions represented Obstruction of Justice and a Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice.
  2. Again John Howard and several ministers could have taken action over my claims regarding breaching quotas and breaching triggered deaths being acts of Fraud, Felony Murder and State Terrorism.
  3. Senior Federal Police officers, including you, could have taken action over my claims that the Federal Police and the Howard Government possibly engaging in a Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice through the above mentioned sweetheart arrangement that apparently saw no investigation of breaching quota deaths in exchange for increased police powers.

Was it a case of “ignore him and maybe he’ll go away”, or was it the fact that in Australia the only acceptable defence against Defamation is “Truth”? Not being sued for Defamation is thus additional circumstantial evidence of the validity of the issues that I have been raising.

In addition to fast tracking the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 legislation through Parliament, the Howard Government set up a Senate Committee of (token) Inquiry into that legislation. This committee took the time to secretly classify those deaths, and all of the documents relating to the Federal Police’s refusal to investigate them, as confidential. What for many years had simply been a bureaucratic and government protocol, i.e. the concealment of post breaching deaths, has, as of November 2005, become an official State Secret. This secret was backed up with a very impressive Parliamentary Privilege Suppression Order that expressly prohibited me from copying and distributing documents related to these breaching deaths and the refusal of the Federal Police to investigate. Those actions by the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee were hardly consistent with the principles of Transparency and Accountability. In fact the secrecy and suppression order were 100% consistent with deliberately avoiding any and all possible Transparency and Accountability for breaching triggered deaths.

You were provided with a signed copy of the discussion paper, “An absence of Justice”. If you have taken the time to read that discussion paper, you will be aware that I have frequently ignored the suppression order over the last five years but have yet to be Cited for Contempt of Parliament. Why not? Is it because citing me for Contempt would be counter-productive in that everything that has been swept under the carpet could be well and truly placed in the public forum? Or is it because, in their desperate haste to get the suppression order out, the committee failed to notice that their suppression order was undated? You are Australia’s top cop, so tell me, how valid is an undated suppression order?

In a letter dated 25/11/09, the Home Minister Brendan O’Connor wrote stating that the Federal Police do not have the authority to investigate (breaching quota triggered) deaths that have occurred outside the ACT. I am very confused by that statement for on my desk I have a newspaper report titled, “MPs caught up in scam”. Written by Renee Veillaris, a Canberra based reporter, the news article was published on page 9 of The Advertiser on February 13th. The opening paragraph states, “Federal Police raided an Adelaide private property as part of a covert investigation into a money scam that is using the names of senior Rudd Government ministers as guarantors”. When welfare recipients in South Australia die after being scammed by the Federal Government, public servants, or by contracted government agencies, the Federal Police cannot investigate. However, when federal politicians are scammed, the Federal Police can take action in South Australia. These double standards are very confusing. Can you see why I am so confused by Minister O’Connor’s statement?

Unless the Home Minister is mistaken, you really should be re-prioritizing your case load. I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that that the mass murder of welfare recipients should not be, as the Employment Workplace Relations & Education Committee put it in their March 2006 letter, “irrelevant”. Clearly, Members of Parliament are Important People, in fact VIPs, while welfare recipients are merely “dole bludgers”, i.e. very unimportant people, which therefore explains why the Federal Police can find the resources to investigate scams against politicians but cannot find the resources needed to investigate scams committed against welfare recipients. Would that be a reasonable, logical and fair evaluation of how the AFP determines resource allocation under your leadership?

“…taking into account a number of factors including the gravity/sensitivity of the matter, the current investigational workload, and whether Commonwealth Laws have been breached. The outcome of the assessment based on the factors, was that the AFP decided against accepting your matters for investigation”.

That is another quote from Minister O’Conner’s letter dated 25/11/09. It is virtually a reprint of Federal Agent Louise Denley’s letter of 7th July 2004, a letter which is now classified as confidential. It seems as though I am not the only one who is ignoring the Senate’s secret confidential classification. Perhaps it is because Minister O’Connor does not have an undated suppression order that must be complied with?

“gravity/sensitivity” is a political decision, not a legal decision and so it is important to look at the facts in order to determine if you are allowing the Federal Police to be affected and/or controlled by political influence.

“the current investigational workload”

In FY 2004-2005 the Federal Police did not have the resources to investigate the deaths of welfare recipients who died after being defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements. However, the Federal Police were able to outpost 10 Federal Police officers to assist Centrelink in investigating over 55,000 anonymous “hot-line” tip-offs alleging that welfare recipients were rorting. In FY2009-2010, the Federal Police have the resources to investigate politicians who are the innocent victims of scammers but does not have the resources to investigate politicians who scammed $4.64 MILLION from their “entitlements’ fund.

You probably won’t agree with me but it seems fairly obvious to me that your decision making process is most definitely being influenced by political factors such as the political “gravity/sensitivity” of a case.

“…whether Commonwealth Laws have been breached”.

If Tony Abbott is to be believed, when Federal Government ministers make mistakes and people die, the responsible Minister should be held accountable before the Law. In the context of Minister O’Connor’s comment, this raises a number of interesting questions. For starters, whose law has been broken when Tony Abbott is referring to “Industrial Manslaughter? Is he referring to a State Law or is he referring to a Federal Law?

Way back in 2004, I asked Mick Keelty if the deaths of breaching quota victims could be classified as either Felony Murder or Manslaughter. South Australia does have Statute Laws that deal with both Felony Murder and Manslaughter. Since I am not a lawyer or a cop, I’ll give you my plain language interpretation of those laws so that there is absolutely no misunderstanding about my views on these issues:

Manslaughter.

Recklessly causing the death of an individual.

Felony Murder.

A person is guilty of Felony Murder when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, (s)he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of another person. (Yes, I did plagiarize this definition but it very accurately sums up my viewpoint.)

Let me put those two definitions in the context of the Vanstone-Abbott derived definition of Breaching which comes from paragraph 47 of the 2002 Welfare Reform Discussion Paper:

Breaching is the targeted, and therefore deliberate, partial or complete reduction of the only means of support, from people who have no other means of support, so that they have no means of meeting their basic costs of living.

Breaching is all about deliberately depriving at-risk people of the ability to meet basic living costs which, logically, means deliberately depriving them of the basic capability to survive. It should therefore come as no surprise, that over the last 25 years, thousands have failed to survive. To me, that makes breaching a political act that recklessly and needlessly causes the death of an individual and therefore, at the very least, makes these deaths Manslaughter under South Australian law. (I also consider it a cowardly and vile Act of State Terrorism.)

The cold-blooded imposition and enforcement of breaching quotas seriously ups-the-stakes. By imposing breaching quotas on at-risk welfare recipients with no regard for the consequences, and when it was already known that breaching had resulted in a large number of random deaths, the Howard Government was clearly evincing a depraved indifference to human life. If you and Mick Keelty were doing your jobs properly in June 2004, you should have been taken a damned hard look at both the breaching statistics published by Centrelink and the Post Breaching Terminal Outcomes statistics that were not published by Centrelink. Had you made the effort to do so, then I am sure that the deadly impact of breaching quotas would have been glaringly obvious.

Not concerned with the existing rate of breaching triggered deaths, or blithely ignoring them, the Howard Government tried to double the breaching penalty to a staggering, cold-hearted 26 weeks. Talk about evincing a depraved indifference to human life! The cold blooded callousness of that attempt to lift the penalty to 26 weeks was totally consistent with the actions of a sociopath. Since Tony Abbott was one of the government ministers supporting this legislation in the Federal Parliament, then using his own “Industrial Manslaughter” logic, he should be held accountable for that action. The question, by whom?

My definitions and comments are in the context of South Australian laws. It could well be that there are, as Minister O’Connor seems to imply, no Commonwealth laws that deal with the mass manslaughter or mass murder of welfare recipients and thus these deaths, or at least those that occurred in South Australia, are matters for the South Australian Police. Somehow, I really have great difficulty in believing that there are no similar Commonwealth laws that deal with reckless endangerment, manslaughter or criminal intent to kill. Mind you, it is possible for, as Tony Abbott has unintentionally made quite clear, responsibility for these deaths rests with the Federal Politicians who created the breaching legislation and therefore these politicians would not be too keen to enact laws under which they, might find themselves being held accountable at a later date.

It has been almost 7 years since I first raised the issue of breaching triggered deaths and in all that time, no government minister has ever made the Post Breaching Terminal Outcomes statistics available. When Minister O’Connor suggested that I refer the matter to the South Australian Police, he did not provide this information. A request for this information put to him through Nick Champion has not yet met with success. These Post Breaching Terminal Outcomes statistics are now an Official State Secret and no Member of Parliament is going to willingly divulge them for this shocking information could easily trigger a double dissolution of Parliament and that means that they would be out of a job! What I can say with complete truth is that not one of the 165 members of the 42nd Parliament, who have been challenged over these deaths, have ever refuted or denied my estimate of 5,000+ Post Breaching fatalities.

In the final analysis, there must be total Transparency and Accountability in the AFP’s handling of all of the various political corruption issues. For starters, the consequences of the repeated failure of Justice are of enormous “gravity/sensitivity” to the 3 million people who have been breached. As an aid to assist in achieving that Transparency and Accountability, I have provided the following hyper-link to the Internet.

http://cid-cdd51f2f72a454f2.spaces.live.com/ (This blog site address)

Ronald Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)

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