I was recently discussing the genteel art of bullying with a former associate, Paulo Flores, who is a psychologist and mediator and Watershedd, a recent contributor to Blak and Black. During the course of both of these conversations the topic turned to the definition of bullying. This made me stop and think and eventually realise that what I’m actually ‘banging-on’ about to the United Nations and on Blak and Black is plain old fashioned bullying.
While I call it corruption, racism, bashing, theft or fraud, in the final analysis all of these are merely different manifestations of the same societal malady, bullying! What led me onto this topic was a meeting I had with Mr Adam Watt on the eve of Australia Day. Mr Watt is currently on bail awaiting trial on conspiracy to import drugs charges. He contacted me after reading some of my posts about corruption in the Australian Federal Police. While I’m not in a position to make comment on the merits or otherwise of the prosecution’s case in the matter of Mr Watt, it is worth noting that he feels strongly enough about what has happened to him to set up a website and start a petition calling for a Royal Commission into the Australian Federal Police. I have been circulating a petition since 2008 calling for a Senate Enquiry into this same august body. While I have seen too many lives destroyed by dugs to afford drug dealers any sympathy, I do believe in the common law maxim ‘innocent until proven guilty’, provided there is a free and open trial. What Mr Watt and I do have in common is a desire to ensure accountability within the Australian Federal Police and more generally within the government sector in Australia. It should be remembered that a lack of accountability is just another way of saying that the Australian Federal Police are bullies!
Paulo Flores and I met after my meeting with Mr Watt to discuss how best to progress my petition to the United Nations. Mr Flores’ involvement stems from his provision of counselling and advisory services to the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue during the period in which he was being racially vilified and humiliated (bullied) by the Australian Federal Police and ACT Government for wanting ‘white’ people to hold themselves accountable to the same standards of the rule of law as Indigenous Australians are expected to meet.
On the advice of Mr Flores and for the purposes of clarification, I am going to take this opportunity explain the significance of the letter from the Ombudsman, which I have discussed in previous posts and the subsequent response from the former Chief Executive of ACT Treasury. The letter from the Ombudsman identifies an exchange of correspondence moving between the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue (a Wiradjuri Man and member of the Stolen Generations) and the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory and the Chief Executive of ACT Treasury and finally the Chief Executive of ACT Treasury and the Commissioner for ACT Revenue.
Before I discuss the importance of the issues raised in this exchange I must remind readers that even though the Ombudsman’s Office references this correspondence in official communications it has disappeared from ACT Treasury, another example of government/corporate bullying and racism in the name of self-interest. In making these correspondences disappear and in failing to comply with a subpoena for them, the ACT Government, through its agent the ACT Treasury has caused a perversion of the rule of law and consequently a perversion of justice. This is an extreme example of bullying!
The exchange started when the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue wrote to the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (Jon Stanhope), advising of what appeared to be a total breakdown in the rule of law in ACT Treasury. Mr Stanhope was also informed that the former Commissioner was the victim of a sustained campaign of racial vilification and hatred (bullying) by one of his subordinate officers. In keeping with the normal processes for responding to such correspondence within the ACT Public Service, the Chief Executive of ACT Treasury responded on behalf of the Chief Minister advising the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue that the matters he raised were currently the subject of various investigations. The Chief Executive of ACT Treasury in the same letter advised the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue that his claims of racial vilification by a named subordinate had been proved and would be referred for appropriate action:
Your allegations that Mr [name removed in respect of people’s right to privacy] has assaulted and racially vilified you have been investigated. I am satisfied that these events did take place, and I have referred the matters to the Director Corporate Services for appropriate action.
The appropriate action turned out to be that the named subordinate officer appeared to be given the ‘green light’ by ACT Treasury to fit –up the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue. Initially, the named subordinate contacted the ANZ Bank, where the former Commissioner had been employed in a previous role, requesting access to the victim’s personnel file. Such access was refused, contacting the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue and ACT Treasury the Bank advised them of what was going on and that in the Bank’s opinion, the request was illegal and apparently racially motivated. Mr Flores, who was acting on behalf of the former Commissioner then contacted and advised Ernst & Young, prior to any contact being made with Ernst & Young by anyone in the ACT Public Service, that the named subordinate had been in contract with the ANZ Bank and requested that Ernst & Young NOT supply documents without appropriate authorization.
Despite this, after meeting with Tanya Taylor, who was the then recruitment officer for Ernst & Young in Canberra, the named subordinate formally wrote to Ernst & Young using ACT Department of Treasury letter head, which he was not authorized to use, requesting documents from the former Commissioner’s Ernst & Young personnel file, where he had been employed immediately prior to joining the ACT Public Service. Incomprehensibly, Ernst & Young provided the named subordinate with the documents requested, despite receiving prior notification that the named subordinate was operating outside of the rule of law..
There are a number of significant issues here. Firstly, Mrs Tu Pham, the then Deputy Chief Executive of ACT Treasury and current ACT Auditor-General, testified in proceedings in March 2006 that the writer of the letter to Ernst & Young was not authorized to conduct an investigation into his superior or to use ACT Government stationary to gain access to documents he would not otherwise have had access to. Secondly, Ernst & Young could not have legally provided the documents under NPP 10(d) as this provision is specifically for law enforcement agencies and ACT Treasury is not a law enforcement agency for the purposes of the National Privacy Principles (NPP). Thirdly, the documents provided by Ernst & Young pursuant to the request are not the same documents that the former Commissioner provided to them after being approached by them and offered a job in 2001.
Ernst & Young, the Australian Federal Police and ACT Treasury say that the named subordinate has done nothing wrong, that he has not committed fraud. The United Nations views it as further evidence of the entrenched and systemic racism that permeates the very marrow of Australian society.
If there was nothing underhand going on with what the former Commissioner’s subordinate was doing, why was it necessary for the request to Ernst & Young to be made on official government stationary? If the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue had genuinely committed fraud, there were processers in place to deal with this, why were they not followed by his subordinate?
If the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue was white rather than Aboriginal and a member of the Stolen Generation(s), it is unlikely that his white subordinate would have been given the ‘nod and a wink’ by the system to do what he did! In Australia there really is one law for black and another for white. Pity the poor black who falls prey to the corruption and racism that seemingly is, white man’s law in Australia.
When I contacted Ernst & Young about this issue in 2006 their in-house legal team conceded that the documents could not have been released under NPP 10(d). By releasing documents from the Commissioner’s personnel file to someone they knew or ought to have known was not entitled to have, use or request them, Ernst & Young has offended against the rule of law, to the detriment of a member of the Stolen Generation(s), someone who has been the victim of racial hatred from birth, solely because of his Aboriginality. This is corruption, this is racism, this is bullying!
In the next few days I will put up a link to an on-line version of my petition asking the Senate to conduct an enquiry into entrenched corruption and racism within the Australian Federal Police. I would ask all of my readers to consider the issues raised in my petition and if they think it appropriate to sign and add their voice to those voices calling for accountability and equality within Australian Society.