Racism, and in particular anti-black racism, is a part of our community’s psyche. A significant segment of our community holds overtly racist views. A much larger segment subconsciously operates on the basis of negative racial stereotypes. Furthermore, our institutions, including the criminal justice system, reflect and perpetuate those negative stereotypes. These elements combine to infect our society as a whole with the evil of racism. Blacks are among the primary victims of that evil.
R. v. Parks,  O.J. No. 2157, 84 C.C.C. (3d) 353, at 369 (Ont. C.A.), Doherty J.A.
Aboriginal people are overrepresented in virtually all aspects of the [criminal justice] system. As this Court … noted in R. v. Williams … there is widespread bias against aboriginal people within Canada, and “[t]here is evidence that this widespread racism has translated into systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system.” … The figures are stark and reflect what may fairly be termed a crisis in the Canadian criminal justice system. … The unbalanced ratio of imprisonment for aboriginal offenders flows from a number of sources … [including] bias against aboriginal people and from an unfortunate institutional approach that is more inclined to refuse bail and to impose more and longer prison terms for aboriginal offenders.
R. v. Gladue,  S.C.J. No. 19,  1 S.C.R. 688, at paras. 61, 64-65 (S.C.C.), Cory and Iacobucci JJ.
While the above two quotes are from the Canadian cases, the sentiments expressed in them remain as true in Australia as they do in Canada. The difference is that the Canadians have a framework known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in which to address these issues, while in Australia “our institutions, including the criminal justice system [remain unencumbered by any such framework giving them carte blanche to], reflect and perpetuate those negative stereotypes”. In the Australian context, it is fair to say that since the early 1970s (the Whitlam years), some groups such as women and gays and lesbians can point to a number of significant victories ranging from the right of reproductive choice to the pending right to same-sex marriage, in the ACT at least. Can the same be said of racial injustice in the criminal justice system?
The manifestations of this injustice include over- and under-policing, discriminatory bail, trial and sentencing outcomes, and mass incarceration. They have been well documented in study after study over the preceding two decades; see for example, the issues raised about indigenous health and justice in the Australian Non-Governmental Organisations’ Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Why this is of interest now is that yesterday I received the following comment on Blak and Black written in response to my article, Moti End Game which appeared in last Friday’s edition the Fiji Sun. While I don’t usually republish readers’ comments I have decided to break that rule on this occasion, because the writer purports to be a former AFP officer and has a seemingly detailed knowledge about one of the issues I have been trying to bring to the attention of the wider community via Blak and Black. The issue involves the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue, an Aboriginal Australian who was forced from his job at ACT Treasury and persued by both the AFP and the ALP because of his insistence that ‘white fella justice’ should extend to ‘while fellas’ and ‘black fellas’ alike.
What the case of the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue does prove is that “our institutions, including the criminal justice system, reflect and perpetuate those negative stereotypes” about Indigenous Australians. The comments from this ‘former’ AFP officer make for interesting reading. I have moderated the comments as certain parties involved in this case and who are likely to be the subject of civil litigation in the future were mentioned by name in the comments and it would be inappropriate for me to ‘blacken’ their names prior to these issues reaching court. Any emphasis is mine.
I read your article which appeared in Friday’s edition of the Fiji Sun with a degree of interest. Just to fill you in about me, I’m a former AFP officer and well aware of the issues that underline your current approach to the AFP.
The issue I have with what you are doing is that it is damaging Australia in the eyes of our near neighbors and that you seem prepared to perpetuate this damage even though the AFP are a separate entity to ACT Policing and your issues are with ACT Policing, tot [sic] the AFP.
If you think carefully about what you are doing you will realize that you are attacking your country’s credibility because of the actions of one racist at ACT Treasury. Do you think that this is fair? I realize that you are ‘pissed-off’ about the treatment you and your family have been subjected to by ACT Policing, but this has nothing to do with the AFP.
If your real objective is justice then you should be concentrating on the actions of [named ACT Police Officer] he is the one who took the statement from Meredith Whitten confirming that she wrote the letter dated 13 October 2003 and which noted by omission that there was no University of London Transcript on the Commissioners personnel file at that time. Whitten had an opportunity to amend that statement when she gave her formal statement to [named ACT Police Officer], she declined to do this. She in fact confirmed this by correcting other facts in that letter but not this one. It is my understanding that the termination you are complaining about was based on an allegation that a University of London Transcript was contained on that personnel file and was there from the date of recruitment. This suggests to me that [the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue’s] personnel file was altered sometime after 13 October 2003. Did you ever receive the responses that Whitten requested from Louise Fitzgerald and [named ACT Dept of Treasury employee]? This is what you should be focusing your energy on, not attacking the credibility of your country in the Pacific.
Did Isabell Coe ever receive a response to the undated letter she sent to Audrey Fagan in 2006? There are issues in there that require investigation including what happened to the correspondence referenced by the Ombudsman’s Office that you have raised on your blog. Again this is an issue for ACT Policing and has nothing to do with the AFP. It would appear that ACT Policing were directed by [named ACT MLA] or [named ministerial advisor] not to investigate your complaints because of the implications a finding in [the former Commissioner’s] favor would have for the ALP not only in the ACT but nationally. There are some interesting parallels between the issues you have raised about corruption in the ALP and the issues McGuirk [sic, referring to Michael McGurk] raised about corruption in the ALP. If you look hard enough you might find a connection. Again this is not an issue for the AFP at this stage.
As to the PID on the [named Public Private Partnership] tender that you say you wrote and that went missing look to the statement that Robert Lewis provided to [named ACT Police Officer]. He confirms that he assisted you in writing that PID. [Named ACT Police Officer] should have investigated this, he didn’t because he was directed not to. Yes I agree that a $15,000,000 [fraud] should have been investigated, but again the issues if proven would point to corruption at the highest levels of the ALP in the ACT. This is where your issues lie, not with the AFP.
You will never get justice from an ALP government so why waste your time in a futile pursuit all you are doing is bringing your country into disrepute. As a loyal Australian I find this objectionable. Move on with your life, there is no room for distention [sic] in modern Australia.
The real answer for you is to approach the Ombudsman and ask him to re-open your complaints based on the evidence I have suggested. This might yield results. All i ask as an Australian is that you stop attacking the credibility of your country because of the actions [of] a racist and a few bad apples in ACT Policing.
I can’t say with any degree of certainty if there is a connection between the allegations McGurk made against the ALP and the allegations the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue made against the ALP. What I can say with total certainty is that the former Commissioner found himself at the centre of a racially motivated campaign of hate, orchestrated by the ALP and perpetuated by the AFP because he had the temerity to insist that ‘white fella justice’ should extend to ‘while fellas’ and ‘black fellas’ alike. Unfortunately, what he found was that “our institutions, including the criminal justice system, reflect and perpetuate those negative stereotypes”. The negative stereotypes I’m referring to are the ones that can be found in this letter written by an ACT Treasury official to the Chief Executive of ACT Treasury which states among other things that all “Aborigines are compulsive liars and criminals”.
What the comments left by the ‘former’ AFP officer on Blak and Black do highlight is the true nature and extent of the anti-Aboriginal racism that so infects “our institutions, including the criminal justice system”.