It looks like the Gillard Government in Australia is shamelessly trying to pre-judge the ACMA’s so-called investigation and may be trying to fob off Jacintha Saldanha’s death as just a prank gone wrong rather than face up to the truth that her death is one more death in a decades long series of fatalities.
These now secretly classified deaths were/are possibly triggered by years of extremist political ideology, extremely shonky administration practices, and the manifestly ruthless “cowboy country – anything goes” exploitation of a targeted social minority who are, largely thanks to deliberate mass media vilification, currently about as popular in Australia as vulnerable Jewish citizens were in Nazi Germany in 1939. (Think unintended collateral damage in Jacintha’s case, a tragic reality that still does not remedy the situation!)
- Check out the letter from the ACMA’s acting Assistant Secretary, Jared Henry, who is calling 2Day FM’s lethal actions a “prank” when that is almost certainly not a legally accurate description of 2day FM’s actions.
- Take note of the phrase “prank telephone call” in line 2 of this letter dated 3rd January 2013 . This indicates the possibility of a deliberate media ploy by the Australian Government to ‘play down‘ 2Day FM’s illegal actions, possibly to draw attention away from the fact that the sort of reckless insensitivity that triggered Jacintha’s death is ACMA approved and therefore is an acceptable attitude in Australia!
- Such a crass, ham-fisted attempt to dismiss the truth that underpins the reasons why 2Day FM personnel apparently believed that it was okay to ignore statute laws when recording the phone conversation with Jacintha is grossly insulting to her memory and clearly indicates that the Australian Government does not want this embarrassingly sensitive truth to be revealed.
“Nemo iudex in causa sua” (Don’t sit in judgement on your own case.)
To ‘nail‘ 2Day FM for possible Criminal Negligence is to expose the Australian Government to the possibility of contributory negligence tort claims for providing a sub-standard mass media regulatory environment that recklessly placed sensitive, fragile people in grave danger 24/7/365 from the Australian mass media which is goal focussed on ensuring that “market forces trump the regulators.”
My response to this letter is set out below:
Thank you for your letter dated 3rd January 2013.
I am sending a certified copy of your letter to the City of London Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Jacintha Saldanha as further documentary evidence of the failure of the ACMA to act in an impartial manner. In my submissions to the inquest I have been putting forward the viewpoint that the ACMA is not a fair and impartial body and consequently the Findings of the ACMA must not be taken at face value.
In line two of your letter you referred to the 2Day FM “prank telephone call”, a phrase that provides insight into the partisan mindset of the ACMA administration. When is a “prank” not a prank? The answer to that question is when the “prank” is an indictable offense that results in the death of a person.
Appended is a copy of a trial summary that occurred in South Australia in February 2006. You will note that although the accused, Josiah Finch, did not kill anyone, he was convicted of Felony Murder. The mandatory sentence for this crime is 25 years with a mandatory 60% non-parole period. With time served whilst on remand, Josiah was sentenced to 14 and half years before being eligible for parole. At the conclusion of the summary it is pointed out that Felony Murder is a charge that involves:
A. An indictable offense;
B. A fatality arising from that indictable offense.
The ‘logic’ of this statute is very simple; A + B = C, i.e. Felony Murder. The so called “prank” call in which the conversation was secretly recorded, violated federal and states laws that make the secret, unilateral recording of a telephone call, as you are fully aware, an indictable offense that carries penalties of up to 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for individuals and a $500,000 fine for corporate entities.
- Had the 2Day FM call originated in South Australia, Ms Saldanha’s death could be a Felony Murder, not a “prank.” (NOTE: Downgrading her death may have profound legal implications for Josiah Finch and many others.)
- In NSW, it is highly probable that Ms Saldanha’s death may constitute Manslaughter due to Criminal Negligence, a crime that also carries a very heavy jail time penalty.
The Distress Act and the longevity of ‘ancient’ Crown Law statutes relevant to the 2Day FM inquiry.
The SA Felony Murder statute should be considered very carefully by the ACMA for a number of other incidental but highly relevant reasons.
In 2005, the Opposition Leader in SA, Rob Kerin, announced that the Liberal Party would contest the March, 2006 state election on a Law and Order platform because the Rann Government was allegedly “soft on crime.” Needing a show trial to disprove the claim, the Rann Government allowed Josiah Finch to be prosecuted under an ‘ancient’ (by SA standards) felony murder statute that had long been dormant.
In doing so, the Rann Government was on very safe grounds for in 1910 a High Court of Justice challenge to the validity of ancient legislation that was proclaimed in 1267, i.e. the Distress Act, was rejected by the Court. The Court ruled that laws made by Parliament, unless repealed by Parliament, were still valid. This ruling was a powerful legal precedent for the Rann Government’s use of redundant legislation for a political show trial.
The significance of this for the Coroner’s Inquest, and therefore for the ACMA, is that old statute laws in both Great Britain and Australia that deal with the crime of Treason may still apply. Secretly impersonating Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, for the purpose of obtaining confidential information about a member of the Queen’s family is an action that may be covered by laws that date back 500 or more years, as per the 1267 Distress Act. I shall be reminding the Coroner’s Inquest of these old laws and pointing out that until 50 years ago, these crimes carried the death penalty.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The clear message is that what 2Day FM did by impersonating Her Royal Highness was quite possibly a treasonable act that resulted in the death of a Citizen of the Realm who was employed ‘as a servant of the Queen’ at the King Edward VII Hospital.
The appropriate, impartial way to describe what 2Day FM did is to refer to it as an “incident” or a “fatal incident”; not as a “prank” which is a term that clearly implies per-judgement by the ACMA of what 2Day FM did.
Incitement to Commit a Felony?
As a direct consequence of the News of World scandal in Great Britain, News Corp. organizations are not exactly the ‘flavour of the month’ at the moment in that country. On 28th November, News Ltd. CEO, Kym Williams, apparently urged Australia’s mass media to commit a felony. In a speech made at the Melbourne Press Club, Mr Williams apparently expressed the viewpoint that the mass media should let “market forces trump the regulators.” It appears that Mr Williams was inciting Australia’s mass media organizations to ignore the Law and focus upon a higher authority, i.e. “market forces.” This alleged statement is totally inconsistent with Paragraph 5 of the Australian Constitution which makes it quite clear that the Law is binding on the people.
Did Mr Williams therefore make himself an “Accessory before the fact” to the market forces driven, fatal decision by 2Day FM personnel to impersonate the Queen in order to obtain confidential information about a member of her family that could be broadcast to improve the station’s ratings?
The cost of operating 2Day FM is very high, perhaps thousands of dollars per hour and therefore the ‘prank’ was in fact a carefully considered economic decision by a commercial radio station that involved a deliberate decision to “trump the regulators” by ignoring federal and state laws that prohibit the secret recording of telephone conversations.
What 2Day FM did was no ‘prank” but a rational commercial decision to violate laws, both known and unknown, for the purpose of achieving a commercial marketing advantage, i.e. higher commercial broadcasting Ratings.
That a person of your senior rank with (oversight of) the ACMA should refer to the 2Day FM incident, in writing, as a prank, is absolutely outrageous, hence my decision to forward a copy of your letter to the inquest.
Reports 2780 and 2729.
I am also pressing the viewpoint to the Saldanha Inquest that ACMA Reports 2780 and 2729 may have been contributory negligence factors in a long cascading chain of events that eventually resulted in the death of Ms Saldanha. For example, Report 2780 was not investigated in accordance with internationally accepted legal standards for the legally valid conduct of an investigation. Had a valid investigation been undertaken, the investigators would have been presented with information that would have validated the allegations. The subsequent report may have actively discouraged the ‘anything goes’ behaviour that resulted in Ms Saldanha’s death. In 2013 I shall be undertaking a range of actions aimed at forcing Centrelink to finally reveal the secret, unreported deaths tolls caused by both breaching activity and the fraudulent attempts to extort overpayments that did not have to be repaid. The shonky manner in which the ACMA “investigated” the complaints received will be presented to the courts as evidence of a deliberate cover-up of fraud driven fatalities that are the subject of at least one secret Senate confidential classification and ‘don’t copy, don’t distribute’ suppression orders.
If a court accepts this view, then those involved in the shonky Report 2780 ‘investigation’ could find themselves in violation of SA’s felony murder statute and facing 25 years MANDATORY sentence per fatality. Although currently unknown, SA’s breaching death toll, whatever that may be, is likely to be appallingly high. In effect, Rochelle and Co could be looking at a massive career change once Centrelink is forced to divulge the unreported breaching fatalities. The false claim that the ACMA did not have the necessary power to investigate Centrelink is totally inconsistent with the ACMA’s statutory obligation to investigate any activity by holders of broadcast licenses that may violate criminal laws. I believe that the statutory remit of Fair Work Australia contains a similar provision that also allows criminal investigations of employers and unions and we all know about how diligent the FWA investigators were in upholding that responsibility when looking at the Health Services Union.
Report 2729 was disgraceful document that gave commercial television broadcasters the right to engage in the vilification of targeted vulnerable minorities, or individuals, without the need to consider the potentially harmful, sometimes lethal, consequences for emotionally fragile, at-risk people who may have been deliberately targeted and vilified in the name of ‘public interest.’ One of the inevitable, completely foreseeable, downstream consequences of Report 2729 was that eventually, someone would get hurt badly hurt and that is precisely what happened. No, it was not a TV broadcaster that acted rashly and caused the death of Ms Saldanha, but the message sent by the ACMA to all of the nation’s broadcasters was quite clear, ‘anything goes’ that is not extremely offensive to the audience and don’t bother about the emotional trauma inflicted upon the targeted victim(s). Report 2729 opened the door to recklessly irresponsible behaviour and as such, Report 2729 , with its “EXTREME”-never-mind-the-victims thresholds for ACMA action was totally at odds with our nation’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ of all other forms of vilification. It was a criminally negligent set of Finding, a viewpoint that I have expressed to the Saldanha inquest.
The people responsible for Report 2729 appear to have been totally unaware that, although a teacher for more than 40 years, due to a medical ‘adverse event’, I am now a disability pension and I personally found the views expressed by SAS 7 to be extremely distressing and grossly offensive to the extent that it made SAS 7’s efforts look amateurish!
Regrettably, Report 2729 was the regulatory reckless act that ultimately triggered the death of Ms Saldanha; an ACMA generated outcome that is the ultimate offensive act.
The question is, who else has the ACMA helped to kill?
My comment: What 2Day FM did is a matter for the coroner’s inquiry to ultimately determine. That a very senior Australian Government official should be describing these indictable actions as a “prank” send a clear signal that the Australian Government is more interested in a cover-up than the truth.
- Any one who concerned about what happened to Jacintha Saldanha should voice their protest at such reprehensible tactics.
- Whilst the causes of Jacintha’s death may be far beyond the coroner’s jurisdiction, like an international airliner crash, the Truth is what matters, not jurisdictional issues.
- Under British Law, the Coroner’s Statute requires that coroners perform their duties impartially, without fear or favour, and deliver the whole truth to the public, not just a politically sanitized version of the truth.
Ronald Medlicott (A Christian advocate of welfare justice.)
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