Ten days or so ago the Drive program on ABC Adelaide 891 broke an interesting story. Host Kevin Naughton told how the Parrot had faxed a letter to State Premier Mike Rann raising concerns over the handling of a murder case – a case which some say is just one example of a failure of forensics in South Australia that may have skewed legal outcomes since the early seventies.

Gloria, of course, writes to politicians all the time – but he is not broadcast in South Australia. Naturally, this got the Bird Watching Team wondering why he had got involved.

The case in question concerns one Henry Keogh, currently serving a 25 year prison term after being found guilty of the murder of his fiancée Anna-Jane Cheney. Last week, we said how state Attorney General Mick Atkinson had been unwilling to look at the matter further in the past.

But on Friday the Adelaide Advertiser reported Rann as saying the issue was under “thorough investigation” by the Solicitor General. It is obviously a matter of vital concern that South Australians can have full confidence in their legal system.

Gloria is not the only normal “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” type who has shown an interest in the Keogh case. The South Australian edition of Seven’s Today Tonight has broadcast several stories on the matter.

The forensic issues themselves were the subject of a Four Corners report as far back as 2001. But why is the Parrot involved – and why is the Premier suddenly talking about the case?

Adelaide, of course, is a small town – and small towns have disproportionately large and busy rumour mills. The local operation has been grinding away and produced an answer to our questions – or rather, two. John Singleton and Gerry Harvey.

That’s the rumour mill. Here are some facts:

Fact: Two months ago Singo and Harvey staged a mega-glitzy racing carnival at Adelaide’s Morphettville racecourse, the Magic Millions.

Fact: Rann was there.

Fact: South Australian Treasurer Kevin Foley was also present.

Fact: The racing was pure packaging designed to doll up some bloodstock sales.

Fact: The big days in the South Australian racing calendar are the Oakbank picnic races held in the Adelaide Hills over the Easter weekend – but they are more focussed towards the locals and remain a stronghold of what is left of the Adelaide establishment. Oakbank types think the Adelaide Cup, held each may, is decidedly NQOCD and the carnival runs well to the rear of the field of Australian equestrian events. Singo and Harvey’s Magic Millions offers something that promotes South Australia to both the wealthy bidders for horseflesh and the suckers who put their pennies on the beasts they buy.

Fact: Keogh’s supporters have interested a wide and high powered group of people across Australia in the case and the allegations of forensic failures in South Australia and the reaction of the state’s Medical Board.

Fact: South Australia remains rustbelt. In the last few days fears for the future of the Adelaide Mitsubishi plant have been a major national news story and appliance manufacturer Electrolux has announced local job losses, despite receiving significant bribes, er, restructuring assistance, from the previous state Liberal government. The state needs all the promotion and every scrap of economic activity it can get.

Rumour mill/facts. You can see why there’s fertile ground for conjecture.

Since this is Crikey we’re not going to insult your intelligence and join the dots. If you’re here, you, dear, gentle reader, know who’s who and are quite capable of drawing your own conclusions.

Even if they might say more about who the Parrot’s pals are than his spirit of altruism.

Gloria struck mute

Talking about the Parrot and pols, an uncharacteristic silence seems to surround our feathered friend on one of his favourite subjects.

Gloria loves to terrorise the New South Wales Department of Ageing, Disability & Home Care and minister Carmel Tebbut. You normally can’t stop the squawks.
Once he hears a good complaint from parents, guardians, relatives, carers or a community or professional group he parrots it non-stop – and sends a few forests worth of mail on the matter as a follow up.

He’s had good reason to be stroppy on the subject, mind you. The New South Wales Ombudsman has recently released a devastating report into the Department. The Director General has got the boot.

Yet we haven’t even caught a caw on the matter from the self appointed champion of the elderly, the disabled and their carers.

Gloria always promises his listeners that they have his support and that he will help them.

Is he too humble to take any credit for the changes – or is he just making sure Tebbut doesn’t get any?

The Crikey Bird Watching Team can be reached at droppings @ crikey.com.au.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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