While strolling along the foreshore of Botany Bay today I spotted a Kingfisher. In Classical Greek mythology “Halcyon” is associated with the Kingfisher. There was an ancient belief that the bird nested on the sea, which it calmed in order to lay its eggs on a floating nest. Two weeks of calm weather were therefore expected around the winter solstice. This myth leads to the use of halcyon as a term for peace or calmness.
Naturally seeing the Kingfisher my mind was moved to recall my halcyon days as an undergraduate at Sydney University and specifically Lex Watson’s lectures on government in Australia. During the course of those lectures, we had cause to touch upon the mysterious case of the Australian Chapter of Ananda Marga and the bombing of the Sydney Hilton during the 1978 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, better known by its acronym CHOGM.
On 13 February 1978 a bomb placed in a garbage bin outside the Sydney Hilton exploded killing three people and wounding seven, including a garbage collector and a police officer. In search of a scapegoat to deflect attention from their own culpability, the Commonwealth Police (they became the Australian Federal Police in 1979) and ASIO decided upon the Australian Chapter of Ananda Marga. Ananda Marga had been outlawed in India, but not in Australia.
It is classic Australian Federal Police style corruption and fit-ups became the order of the day. It’s easier than proper policing, especially when the prime suspect is yourself. Five members of the Australian Chapter of Ananda Marga were charged with the bombing and in one of the darkest hours for the rule of law in Australia, they were found guilty.
After a lengthy campaign by supporters of the falsely accused members of Ananda Marga an inquiry was held into their convictions. This inquiry would ultimately hear evidence implicating the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice for their own ends. In so doing, five innocent Australians were denied their rights, including the right to equality before the law and the right to a fair trial, because of the systemic corruption within the Australian Federal Police. This and a number of related issues have been very ably addressed by Gopal Raj Kumar in his article TENGKU ABDUL AZIZ ON CORRUPTION.
Has the situation with the Australian Federal Police changed any since 1978? The short answer is no. As I write this article the former Solomon Islands’ Attorney-General Julian Moti QC is preparing a High Court challenge to the Australian Government’s politically motivated attempt to prosecute him on statutory rape charges.
Mr. Moti, through his counsel Ian Barker QC, has applied for special leave to appeal a decision by the Queensland Court of Appeal reinstating the statutory rape charges, which had been subject to a permanent stay of proceedings issued by the Queensland Supreme Court in December 2009.
In his summary of argument to the High Court of Australia, Mr. Moti’s counsel contends that:
“This case raises novel questions of fundamental importance for the administration of criminal justice in this country… The power of the courts to relieve against the misuse of executive power and safeguard individuals from oppression and vexation is essential to the maintenance of the integrity of the courts.”
Moti’s summary of argument canvasses a number of issues which would warrant a permanent stay of proceedings, not the least of which is the fact that the AFP have been paying monthly sums of $A1, 290 to the alleged victim’s brother, $480 to her father, and $2,475 to her mother. These payments were made while the family continued to live as normal in Vanuatu, where the minimum monthly wage was just $240.
Exactly how much of your and my money the AFP has paid in ‘gratuities’ to its witnesses remains unclear, however Justice Debra Mullins while issuing her permanent stay order in November 2009 found that the alleged victim’s parents and brother received a total of $81,639 between February 2008 and November 2009, while other documents indicated that they received $50,940 in 2008 and $66,468 in 2009. Moreover, according to an article in the Age published last November, “payments to the complainant and her family have reached at least $300,000, double what was revealed in court last year”.
That is $300,000 of Australian taxpayer’s money, gone to shore up a politically motivated prosecution of a man for attempting to defend the sovereign rights of a people for whom he was the most senior law official.
Moti’s lawyers explain:
“The political motivation behind the investigation of the applicant was regarded by the Court of Appeal as irrelevant to whether the witness payments brought the administration of justice into disrepute … [but] the right-thinking person would correctly perceive [a] link between the political genesis of the prosecution, the means by which the applicant was brought to the jurisdiction, and the extraordinary payments being made to keep the prosecution on foot.”
Counsel also rebuts the grounds given by the Queensland Supreme Court of Appeal for the reinstatement of the charges against Moti — namely that the AFP payments, “while made beyond existing guidelines, were not illegal” and that the AFP could not be said to have procured evidence, because the “witnesses” only began receiving money after they made their statements to the investigating police.
Responding to the latter argument, Moti’s counsel notes that the initial ruling explicitly recognised that the payments aimed to ensure the alleged victim’s family “remain willing to give evidence against the applicant”. Moreover, it continues:
“The impropriety of the means being employed to sustain the prosecution raised the question of the integrity of the administration of justice. It cannot be said that the payments which induce initial cooperation are improper, while payments which secure ongoing cooperation, whatever the circumstances and whatever the price, are not.”
On the issue of the legality of the AFP’s actions, counsel maintains that the real issue, correctly identified in the initial ruling quashing the prosecution, was the “underlying propriety” of the payments and that a breach of common law or statutory provisions could not be regarded as a necessary precondition for an abuse of process.
For a full analysis of Mr. Moti’s case I recommended readers to: Julian Moti prepares High Court challenge to Australian government’s politically motivated charges, written by Patrick O’Connor for the World Socialist Website.
While the legal arguments will undoubtedly continue back and forth, the issue for all Australians is that yet again the Australian Federal Police are being used, willingly used it would seem, as agents for Australia’s neo-colonial aspirations in the Pacific. The Ananda Marga case, the Moti case, the Marten case, the Haneef case, and the ACT Commissioner for Revenue case demonstrate clearly that the role of the Australian Federal Police has shifted from law enforcement to political oppression. If anyone challenges the ‘powers that be’, they seem to immediately come under the unwanted and politically directed attention of the Australian Federal Police. What happened to the separation of powers doctrine in Australia?
Moreover, why is it that the unwanted and politically directed attention of the Australian Federal Police seems to focus almost exclusively on Australians of non-European extraction, while our white brothers and sisters in power remain, or seemingly remain, above the rule of law?
If Mr. Moti is eventually convicted on the politically motivated charges he is facing it will be yet another dark hour for the rule of law in Australia, one not seen since the Ananda Marga travesty.
While I would hate to think that there really is one law for black and another for white in Australia, the recent history of the Australian Federal Police is beginning to point in that direction.