06 | 03
2011

Another nail in the coffin of Australia’s democracy

Categories: Arc of instability, Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Ombudsman, Corruption, Pacific Neighbours, Rule of Law

by: Bakchos
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“The pattern from the 1980s right through to Haneef is a culture of obsessive secrecy… where the AFP’s major objective has been to look good whilst at the same time avoiding public scrutiny and accountability,”

(Former AFP officer interviewed in October, 2008 for ABC Four Corners programme Good Cop, Bad Cop)

On the same programme, referencing senior Australian Federal Police officers, the former Commonwealth Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, stated that the Australian Federal Police do not want to know about corruption in their own department. This in itself should be sufficient reason for there to be a Royal Commission into the Australian Federal Police. You can watch Professor McMillan’s interview with Sally Neighbour in the story titled Good Cop, Bad Cop here. As stated by Shane Dowling in his post Pigs on the run:

“… the fact of the matter is that the Australian Federal Police don’t want to know about corruption in any government department.”

The Kessing Affair

THE Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) has been asked to examine the conduct of the Australian Federal Police during its investigation of convicted whistleblower Allan Kessing.

The call for an inquiry was triggered by concern that Mr Kessing may have been wrongly convicted, because information received by the Australian Federal Police that could have helped his defence was not passed on to his legal team.

Mr Kessing, a former Customs officer, was convicted in 2007 of breaching section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act by leaking to The Australian long-ignored reports revealing criminality and security flaws at Sydney Airport.

The ACLEI was asked to examine the AFP’s involvement by Bob Spanswick, a former official of the Customs Officers Association.

Mr Spanswick said last week’s disclosures in The Australian that information had not been passed to Mr Kessing’s lawyers meant the prosecution might have been affected by corruption.

His decision to refer the matter to the ACLEI coincides with severe censorship of a Howard government briefing paper on the Kessing prosecution that has been made available under the Freedom of Information Act.

More than half of the five-page document was blacked out when it was made available last week to Mr Kessing. “The remaining material adds nothing to what I already knew,” said Mr Kessing.

A Difference of Opinion

There is a strong difference of opinion about how lawyers representing convicted whistleblower Allan Kessing were denied access to evidence that could have undermined the prosecution case.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus provided one version of reality to a Senate estimates hearing. It should come as no surprise to learn that the Negus version implies the AFP did nothing wrong.

The Negus version is sharply at odds with the way barrister Peter Lowe, who defended Kessing, remembers things.

If Lowe is right that the AFP never disclosed that it held information that could have undermined the prosecution case, then Kessing has clearly been wrongly convicted.

That information is contained in a letter from the internal affairs unit at Customs that is held by the AFP and that has only recently been leaked to Kessing, apparently from someone inside the AFP.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor, who is considering Kessing’s application for a pardon, is aware that Negus’s version is at odds with that of Lowe.

Logically, O’Connor will need to get to the bottom of what really happened if he is to properly consider the question of whether Kessing was indeed denied a fair trial.

If he fails to do that, it would call into question the fairness with which he is dealing with the pardon application.

For Kessing, an absence of fairness must now appear to be the hallmark of the criminal justice system. On the face of things, this man has been convicted of a criminal offence after the prosecution suppressed evidence that could have saved him.

Similarities with the Marten’s Case

The thrust of the argument in the Kessing Affair is that the Australian Federal Police withheld exculpatory evidence from the defence. If we look at the details of the Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim filed on 18th February, 2011 by Capt. Fred Martens through his PNG lawyers Peter Penna and Associates in the PNG National Court, Waigani, we will see that the issues are surprisingly similar in both the Kessing and Martens cases.

On page 13 and fourteen of the Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim at sub-sections 44 (b) to (e) makes the following allegations:

(b) in or about April – May 2004 0bserved Leisa James and Richard Terry, who were members of the AFP employed by the COA being Designated persons under the EC Treaty Act, also investigating into the charges referred o at paragraph 13(a) herein, find the passport application of Grace Nabaimu lodged on 13th August 2001 at the Immigration office at Waigani, uplift the application from the office and concealed same.

(c) knew that Tania Stokes (a member of the AFP employed by the COA being Designated persons under the EC Treaty Act) swore an affidavit on 27th April, 2005 stating that “…the Director of Operations for PNG Immigration Department advised that most of the records were stolen in 2004…” and that there was no passport application for Grace Nabaimu; knew the statement was made to support the Prosecution knowing that he facsimiled the passport application and other documents to Tania Stokes on 13th May, 2004 shortly after they were uplifted and four (4) months before the plaintiff was arrested.

(d) knew or ought to have known that Dr Mondia, who witnessed the passport application declaration and photographs of Grace Nabaimu on 1th August, 2011 was interviewed by Tania Stokes in 2005 and the statement was concealed and never disclosed by Tania Stokes.

(e) came to know an Affidavit sworn on 24th August 2004 wherein Tania Stokes asserted that Grace Nabaimu’s passport and visa application were attended to in March 2001 when he knew that Tania Stokes knew or ought to have known as early as 13th May 2004 that this statement was false. (My emphasis)

While all of the above mentioned allegations relate to the Second Defendant Detective Inspector Moses Ibsagi of the PNG Police, they refer to crimes committed by serving Australian Federal Police Officers against Mr Martens in PNG which he witnessed.

Sex tapes and Money

The current Defence Force sex tape scandal is almost exactly the same as the current Reserve Bank Bribery Scandal. Both had complaints made to the Federal Police. On both occasions the Federal Police did nothing until the media became involved.

The Australian Defence Force sex tape scandal involving an 18 year old girl was initially swept under the carpet by the Australian Federal Police, only to be investigated after:

“… Channel 10 ran an interview with the girl on the nightly news, or that is what the Australian Defence [Force have been] implying by their public statements. Both Defence and the Australian Federal Police have been contradicting each other … in their public statements.”

Now who are we to believe on this one? Dowling goes on to say:

“The Reserve Bank bribery scandal involves a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia called Securency which makes and sells bank notes. As it turns out they have been caught bribing overseas officials to win contracts. It is illegal under Australian Law to bribe overseas officials.

A whistleblower who worked for Securency went to the Australian Federal Police in April 2008 armed with hard evidence. The Federal Police tried to sweep it under the carpet which they did successfully until May 2009, when The Age newspaper in Melbourne ran a story exposing the corrupt deals at Securency.

In an interview with ABC Radio on the 26th May, 2010 this is what Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said:

‘There was an initial assessment done of that material and at that time, over the coming months, it was decided that there was insufficient material to launch an investigation. Looking back, there could have been more done at that time, I think, to look further and deeper into the issue.’

‘At a later stage there was more material provided to the Australian Crime Commission, which was again provided to the AFP; at about that time the matter was formally referred to us by the RBA after the matter was featured in The Age newspaper.'”

Let’s compare Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus words in the Securency matter to what he said after his police service was publicly exposed in the ADF sex scandal:

‘That advice that was provided by defence didn’t really fully comprehend the magnitude of what we now know to be the case.’

I looks to me like the authors of the ‘why I didn’t do my homework’ excuse book have expanded into the ‘why I didn’t investigate a crime’ excuse book market!

Recidivism and the Australia Federal Police

The term ‘recidivism’ originates from the Latin ‘recidere’, which means to ‘fall back’; the term is often used interchangeably with ‘repeat offending’ or ‘reoffending’.

What Australians are led to believe they have in the Australian Federal Police is a glamour force of supercops smashing drug rackets, tracking terrorists and making Australians feel safe.

Indeed, so successful have the Australian Federal Police spin doctors been, that grateful politicians showered them with praise and hefty budget increases. Officers of the Australian Federal Police and their canny chief Mick Keelty could do no wrong. Or so it seemed. Now, the once-lionised AFP is now ridiculed for apparent bungling, excessive secrecy and cosying up to political masters.

The problem with the Australian Federal Police is that all the glamour was nothing more than a tart’s ‘war paint’; in the morning the glam was gone and the reality remained.

I’m going to indulge myself here and drop in some lines I penned about a friend, a Berlin transvestite, though the lines could equally pertain to the Australian Federal Police:

Full lips, zones erogenous

Curled lashes, hot flashes

Androgynous

Aqua eyes, brows defined

Nose turned, cheeks of rose

Eyes lined black, chiseled bones

Legs lean, shaven clean

Torso toned, smooth chest bared

Female whims, fishnet skin

Words tender, hands slender

Sculpted arms  all feline charm

I don’t care who you are

As long as you’re beautiful

Androgyny

It takes over me

With sweet breath and perfume

Your ambiguity

Captivates me

It’s hard to see

Just who you wish to be

Let your kiss paint

Your sole identity

High heels, leopard prints

Lip gloss, dance sweet floss

Mouth inviting, tongue exciting

Beauty queen, with faded jeans

Touch of a woman

Coarse as a man

Androgynistic, cunning linguistic

Feline aggression, a carnivore

But nurturing more

All at once and neither at all

Falling between, at the centre extreme

I don’t care who you are

As long as you’re beautiful

Androgyny

It takes over me

With sweet breath and perfume

Your ambiguity

Captivates me

It’s hard to see

Just who you wish to be

Let your kiss paint

Your sole identity

Sequins shine, squeal of delight

Swollen pout, in, out

Outcast feeling, weary tears

They’re watching you

The prettiest girl

Painted nails, ears pierced

Rhinestone cuffs, furry muffs

Glamour fades, stubble grows

Shed your skin, be liberated

Hungry for lust,

In your beauty I trust

I don’t care who you are

As long as you’re beautiful

Androgyny

It takes over me

With sweet breath and perfume

Your ambiguity

Captivates me

It’s hard to see

Just who you wish to be

Let your kiss paint

Your sole identity

The point here is that “Glamour fades, stubble grows” and your kiss can no longer paint”your sole identity”.

The Australian Federal Police and Sex Tourism (A Study in Recidivism)

2004 seems to have been a turning point within the Australian Federal Police. Prior to then there had been some inkling, such as the Ridgeway case in South Australia, of the fading glamour of the Australian Federal Police, but 2004 seems to be the year in which they shed their institutional skin and became liberated.

Both the Moti and the Martens cases were initiated by the AFP in 2004. In both cases a considerable period of time had elapsed between the alleged crimes; six years in Moti’s case, three in Marten’s, before the Australian Federal Police commenced their investigations. This is despite the fact that the accusations were first brought to the attention of the Australian Federal Police’s in Moti’s case at least three years prior to any enquiries being made and in Marten’s case at least five months earlier.

Both cases coincide with Australia’s efforts to reassert itself in the so called ‘arc of instability’ in the face of alleged terrorist threats and a resurgent China engaging in its version of Realpolitik in the Pacific.

Given the comments made by the Queensland Court of Criminal Appeal when it quashed Marten’s conviction, as referenced above and comments made by Moti’s Defence Council Jim Kennan SC that the Australian Federal Police regarded the chances of extraditing Moti as “highly unlikely” rom mid-2006 and began looking for alternative options, the only reasonable explanation is that both prosecutions were politically/commercially motivated and represent clear examples of the Australian Federal Police cosying up to political masters.

What is striking in both the Moti and Marten’s cases is that the Australian Federal Police were prepared to disregard the ‘rule of law’ in order to secure Australia’s political and/or commercial interests in the Pacific. These actions need to be viewed against the apparent refusal by the Australian Federal Police to investigate the allegations in either the ADF sex scandal or Securency until the media and the weight of public opinion forced them to act, both of which appear to be genuine crimes.

Assuming that this analysis is correct, it seems that at some point around 2004Australian ceased being a ‘government under the Constitution’, with a Constitution that binds the branches of government to comply with their Constitutional limits, to being something entirely different and much darker. A something that can call on a papa-military organization, the Australian Federal Police, to enforce the political will of the government, even if that will is at odds with the ‘rule of law’.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Shane Dowling for use of this information. I recommend you read his post Pigs on the run for another perspective.

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