The case of Anne Delaney
got under way yesterday in the Richlands Magistrates Court about 20
minutes drive south of Brisbane. Anne is a film-maker and journalist
who’s been charged under the little-used Section 100 of the Queensland
Corrective Services Act. Her offence: talking to a female prisoner
without permission.

Anne is represented by solicitor Andrew
Boe, (who got up the Beattie Government’s nose earlier this year for
defending indigenous people charged over the so-called Palm Island
“riot”) and by barrister, Peter Applegarth.

Delaney’s legal team
has given notice it wants to challenge the charges on constitutional
grounds, and for the first day of the hearing brought an impressive
line-up of witnesses for the defence.

Former Labor minister Anne
Warner, who’s now president of the women prisoners’ support group
Sisters Inside, and Bill Carter, former chair of the Queensland Parole
Board, both gave evidence about the need for the prison system to be
open to scrutiny. Journalist David Marr and historian Robert Manne gave
evidence by telephone hook-up. Marr’s evidence went to the point that
issues arising from the criminal justice system are, by their nature,
political matters and therefore open to investigation by the media.

Sisters
Inside has taken a great interest in this case as their spokeswoman,
Debbie Kilroy is also indirectly threatened with possible prosecution
under Section 100. Kilroy has been banned from visiting women in jail
since June 2005.

Earlier this year, Debbie’s Kilroy’s biography, Kilroy Was Here,
written by Kris Olsson, was published and it contains a number of
interviews with women in jail. Kilroy received a letter from Corrective
Services banning her from entry to Queensland prisons until she answers
certain questions about the interviews, even though Kris Olsson told
the bureaucrats that she had written the book and done the interviews.

Kilroy
sees the actions of the Corrective Services department as “political
game playing” designed to keep her away from the prison system, and she
describes their behaviour in several meetings as “arbitrary,
controlling and threatening.” According to Debbie Kilroy, the next big
crisis in Queensland is going to be in the prison system. What she
calls the “dark, shadowed places” that are being kept out of the public
light. She says the prison system in Queensland is on the verge of
collapse and that the Government is “covering everything up.”

The
Delaney case winds up this afternoon. Delaney is facing up to two years
in prison if convicted. As one supporter told Crikey, that’s a hell of
a way to score an interview.

(The Courier-Mail takes a different view in its coverage under the headline Reporter admits deception to visit baby killer.)