“The wheels of justice may grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceedingly fine”.
Justice is often slow as the following two examples indicate.
Bloody Sunday: On 30 January 1972, 13 people were killed when soldiers from the British Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights march in Derry. The day became known as Bloody Sunday. Finally, after nearly 40 years, the British government has apologized.
“The conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.’
-British Prime Minister Davis Cameron
After a 38 year long struggle, the families of those gunned down by British troops on Bloody Sunday now have an official apology from the British Government. Whilst this apology brings closure for some of the families, a number of the families have indicated that they will now seek to have the troops involved charged with murder. There is no statute of limitations for murder and “I was only following orders” is no defense for actions that result in the death of innocent people.
Some of the Breaching Triggered Deaths occurred in South Australia, a state with a Felony Murder statute that may not merely cover the wrongful deaths of welfare recipients but also covers the concealment of such deaths. The creators, enforcers, and the ‘concealers’ of breaching triggered deaths may all eventually face criminal charges for these deaths.
The Stolen Generation: In 1937, Racial Bias was the misguided driving force behind legislation that caused the humanitarian disaster that is today known as The Stolen Generation. 70 years later, on August 1st 2007, the South Australian Supreme Court handed down its landmark ‘Stolen Generation’ decision when it awarded a victim of that misguided legislation, Bruce Trevorrow, $525,000 in damages. A further $250,000 in interest was later added to this compensation award.
Compliance Measures legislation is equally misguided. It has been the evil engine that has powered a humanitarian disaster with an as yet undisclosed death toll. When the Howard Government tried to raise the Breaching penalty from 13 weeks to 26 weeks, Senator Vanstone tried to justify this action by claiming that the majority of people supported the legislation. This support was based upon “uninformed consent”, i.e. the Howard Government never publicized the humanitarian consequences of it Breaching Quotas policy. Whatever the cause of this Passive Consent, it was Consent and therefore taxpayers, who already foot the bill for the Stolen Generation stupidity, must foot the bill for the vastly more dreadful Breached Generation stupidity. With an election due before April 2011 and Tony Abbott having raised the issue of a return to the compliance measure formerly known as “Breaching”, it is critical that voters be able to make an informed decision about the merits and pitfalls of this policy. Hopefully, as a result of this Compliance Regime Review, our (future) Prime Minister will say,
“The conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened with Compliance Measures was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.’
Crown vs Josiah Finch. SA Supreme Court, February 2006.
Lawyers representing families who may wish to sue Centrelink for causing deaths as a result of Reckless Endangerment should carefully study the above mentioned case.
In 2005, a teenager, Josiah Finch was charged with Felony Murder. Tried and convicted in February 2006, he received a 14 year sentence with an 8-year non-parole period. During the trail, the SA Police readily admitted that Master. Finch had not killed anyone. His alleged crime was that he withheld information that would identify the person who was responsible for a homicide.
Assistant Secretary Skill’s admission that Centrelink did not record Breaching triggered deaths, plus the fact that not one of Centrelink’s annual reports mentions these deaths, raises an interesting legal question, i.e. is there any difference between what Josiah Finch allegedly did and what DSS/Centrelink management and federal politicians have been doing for a quarter of a century? As far as I can tell, the only difference is one of scale; Josiah was convicted of concealing the facts about one homicide whilst DSS/Centrelink and federal politicians have been concealing a very large number of deaths.
Plausible Deniability – Buck Passing 101.
Assistant Secretary Skill’s comments and the DSS/Centrelink annual reports appear to provide federal politicians with the opportunity to plausibly deny any knowledge of these deaths. How could they know about these deaths if, for a quarter of a century, DSS and Centrelink bureaucrats have not even bothered to count these deaths, let alone report them in the annual reports?
At first glance the Plausible Denial excuse has significant merit. However, it does not stand up under close scrutiny for federal politicians have been bombarded with information about the appalling humanitarian consequences of compliance measures for years:
- The secret confidential classification of Submission 287 to the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 inquiry;
- Two Parliamentary Privilege suppression orders;
- The classification of these deaths as “irrelevant” by the Employment, Workplace Relations and Employment Committee;
- Official government reports such as the 2004 Breaching Review Taskforce Report;
- Public submissions/responses to the 2002 Welfare Reform Discussion Paper;
- Public responses to the ACOSS funded Pearce Inquiry.
- My communications with federal politicians over the last 7 years is numbered in the hundreds. Their responses are empirical evidence of their knowledge of these deaths.
- Individual and community group responses over the last 25 years probably numbers in the hundreds of thousands. For example, “The system stinks” is just one of thousands of letters of concern to editors that have been published in the last 25 years by newspapers and magazines.
Term of Reference #2 (j) makes it quite clear that politicians and bureaucrats apparently believe that “hardship” and “vulnerability” are considered to be acceptable “measures” in ensuring “compliance”. However, “A reckless indifference to human life that results in the death of a person” is a Homicide. Therefore, regardless of the actual cause of death, every Compliance Measures fatality is a homicide that State Coroners need to carefully review.