Slipper and the presumption of innocence
Crikey readers have their say.
Apr 27, 2012
Crikey readers have their say.
John Richardson writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey‘s contention, that Peter Slipper should not resume the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives until such time as the allegations against him have been “finalised”, might have merit if there was actually an investigation on-foot.
However, the fact of the matter is that Slipper’s accuser has mounted an action in the Federal Court and the only way his “allegations” will be tested is through the matter being dealt with by the court: there is no independent investigation taking place.
In the meantime, if Slipper is able to show that the related allegations of criminal behaviour made by his accuser (that he improperly used/applied Commonwealth funds) are without foundation, that to me would suggest that there is a risk that the balance of the allegations against him might also be unfounded — enter the presumption of innocence more loudly.
If Slipper does not resume the Speakership pending resolution of the Federal Court action, he will be paying an immediate and ongoing price (as will the government), regardless of the ultimate outcome. His protagonist, on the other hand, may not pay any price at all, even if his action fails (if his lawyers are acting on a contingency basis).
Indeed, in the circumstances, it may be that Slipper’s protagonist is free to actually profit from the situation, by giving paid interviews (the media’s interest has certainly been encouraged by the behaviour of his representatives), while Slipper’s reputation swings in the wind, waiting on the court proceedings. This is not my idea of justice.
Les Heimann writes: Your editorial espousing that Peter Slipper should voluntarily relinquish his place because of an accusation of wrong doing is outrageous.
In the first place Slipper is accused of s-xual harassment and that’s just an accusation at this stage. Appropriate authorities — outside Parliament — will ensure, through due process, whether the evidence of such accusation proves right — or wrong. Not Parliament
Secondly, if one follows this path of slippery subjectivity who will be the judge of when one should “stand down”?
Thirdly, given the circumstances, what if this affair is another “Godwin Grech exercise”?
Peter Slipper is a person “equal in the eyes of the law” but somehow not equal in the eyes of others.
Your position on this is groundless, dangerous and entirely undemocratic
Niall Clugston writes: Putting in the boot on Peter Slipper, Crikey‘s Thursday editorial opines “the Speakership is a key role in Australian democracy”. Really? The role is merely to compere the House. The Speaker rarely votes and eschews party allegiance. How is that more important than a minister, parliamentary secretary, committee member, or even an ordinary MP who actually legislates?
Luke Miller writes: Re. “Paul Barry: the Murdoch Roast — how did James’ entree compare to Rupert’s sizzle?” (yesterday, item 1). “I take a particularly strong pride in the fact that we have never pushed our commercial interests in our newspapers,” says Rupert Murdoch.
As a teenager in Melbourne I recall opening the sports section of the Herald Sun in 1997 and being perplexed by the massive coverage of News Ltd’s Super League rugby matches.
For a few months it rivalled coverage of the AFL in the Victorian-based paper even though it must’ve had a fraction of the readers.
Donald Dowell writes: Rupert Murdoch seems to have channelled his inner Richard Nixon for the Leveson inquiry. It now seems there was an cover-up, but of course the old man knew nothing of it, it was all the doing of his underlings. He might have to get his helicopter ready and start work on a “my mother is a saint …” speech.
Andrew Haughton writes: Last night Rupert Murdoch made Peter Slipper sound convincing.
Guy Rundle writes: Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments) chides me for several things in my Anzac Day piece: “smearing” the 342,000 Australian soldiers who fought in WW1, as war criminals, and failing to mention WW2, as “the good war”, against “the fanatical Japanese Imperial Army and its murderous rampage through south-east Asia”.
I didn’t smear all troops, most of whom fought in France. But there was undoubtedly massacres by Australian troops of Arab civilians — and this must be considered in any assessment of the “larrikin”, “anti-authoritarian” myth of WW1 troops.
Ken is right to say that WW2 is a more complex case — and the only war in which Australians have fought that could conceivably be called a “good” war or a genuine defensive one. But even here the record is more complex. After all, the “forward defence” of Australia in the Pacific was really the defence of a series of European colonies against the rival imperialism of Japan.
By 1941, Japan had been blockaded in the Pacific, and the idea of Japan as a sub-human and rapacious race — so unlike the English in Malaysia or the Dutch in Indonesia! — had been spread throughout Western societies, in preparation for a race-based conflict. Japan was unquestionably more brutal in its war conduct than us (until 1944, when we began fire-bombing and then atom bombing their cities), but Allied treatment of native populations was often equally brutal and disdainful — culminating in the Bengal famine, where a lack of interest in saving Indian lives resulted in 3 million dead.
In New Guinea the entire native population was pressed into service, and treated as little more than slaves for the duration (they were eventually released at the insistence of Eddie Ward, the left-wing Labor MP when he became colonies minister).
All of which suggests that memorial days should be left to those who actually served, for their own memories, with no judgment passed — but also with no simple and self-serving narratives attached.
Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Hamilton: ABC’s latest climate change doco another PR victory for doubters” (yesterday, item 10). It must be hard for Clive Hamilton to watch the climate-scare fall apart.
The Australian electorate is in revolt against Labor’s broken carbon tax promise, the carbon price has collapsed in Europe and just this week James Lovelock of Gaia fame admitted that he had been too alarmist about climate change, saying “the world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time … it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising.”
None of this matters to Clive though. Despite years of the ABC peddling the looniest scare stories about global warming, apparently a show that even canvasses the sceptical point of view is evidence that the ABC no longer cares about the truth.
Curiously, this all leads me to actually agree with Clive on something: given the opinion polls and their link to the broken promise on the carbon tax, he is probably correct in saying that we will need to “suspend democratic processes” to get real action on climate change — because it looks like we’ll all be waving goodbye to the carbon tax after the next election.
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