The following post has been written by a colleague of mine from Papua New Guinea (PNG). I first met Pius in 1996 when I was working for the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation (PNGBC) in the mid-1990s as its insolvency and reconstruction manager. At that time Pius was involved with Amnesty International working with West Papuan refugees living in makeshift camps on the PNG side of the Fly River, the border separating a recently independent PNG from its invaded and colonised Melanesian neighbour.
Pius and I have been friends since we first came into contact with each other in the mid-1990s. The story Pius has to regale readers of Blak and Black with on this occasion has nothing, or very little at least, to do with the genocide being carried out against the indigenous peoples of West Papua by the Indonesian Government. It is about the more subtle genocide being carried out by the Australian Government against Australia’s own indigenous peoples.
All the incidents mentioned by Pius in this post are attested to by multiple independent witnesses. Each has been reported to either the New South Wales (NSW) or Australian Federal Police (AFP) by Mr Phillip Hart; none have been investigated. Why? Because in Australia the police don’t investigate crimes committed against Indigenous Australians by non-Indigenous Australians, this fact might help explain some of the appalling statistics regarding Aboriginal males and their supposed predilection to crime!
Enough from me, now over to Pius.
I first met Bakchos in PNG in the mid-1990s. Bakchos came to my attention when I witnessed him exchanging harsh words with one of his colleagues, a white Australian from Queensland, who was treating a PNG national in an overbearing and unreasonable manner. Bakchos then, as now, maintains that “white does not make right” and has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he is prepared to stand-up and defend that position, even to his own detriment.
My story revolves around two incidents which occurred in Sydney in 2005 and 2007. The first of these incidents witnessed only a tangential involvement with me, the second incident which occurred at the Mercantile Hotel in Sydney in April 2007 involved me in a more direct manner.
Between 2004 and 2006 Bakchos owned and operated a newsagency in Sydney. I received a call from Bakchos at my home early one morning in 2005. Bakchos asked if he could come over and speak with me. When he arrived he had a bruised face with blood coming from his nose and the corner of his mouth. When I asked him what had happened he told me that he had just been assaulted by two men who identified themselves as Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers, who had approached him at his newsagency. He went on to tell me that after the papers arrived that morning and before his assistant Mr Phillip Hart had arrived the two men approached him and one was carrying a picture of a child the men had ‘identified’ as Bakchos’ son. The picture was taken through the cyclone fence of the boys Kindergarten – Killara Park, Killara (a suburb of Sydney). While holding the picture one of the men produced a gun and threatened Bakchos with words to the following effect, “It’s very easy for young children to get run over when leaving Kindergarten, it happens all the time” followed by, “Why don’t you do you and your family a favour and stop making allegations about the ALP [Australian Labor Party] and the missing money from ACT Treasury”. Bakchos then went on to describe a racially motivated physical assault on him by these two men. The assault only came to an end when Mr Hart arrived for work. I subsequently spoke to Mr Hart and he confirmed to me what he witnessed that morning.
Mr Hart told me that he saw two men assaulting Bakchos when he arrived at the newsagency to assist with wrapping the papers. When he approached the men one of them produced an AFP badge and said words to the following effect to him: “Fuck off mate this is official police business”. Mr Hart then told me that he announced loudly that he was calling the police and proceeded to dial his mobile phone. With this the men ran to their car which was parked in a side street and drove off. Before leaving they threw the picture of the boy at Bakchos and while saying something like, “Better watch the traffic you black cunt”. Mr Hart also advised me that the car had ACT licence plates, but as his mobile phone did not contain a camera he was unable to get a picture of the car or its licence plate.
My flatmate at that time was a nurse and she helped clean Bakchos’ cuts and stop his bleeding nose. I understand that Mr Hart referred this incident to the NSW police, but I’m unsure of the details.
When I questioned Bakchos about what had happened and why the AFP would do such a thing, he advised me that he was involved in trying to bring to the attention of the relevant authorities in Australia information that had come to his attention that the ALP were somehow involved in the theft of a large amount of money from ACT Treasury and that ACT Policing, which Bakchos advises me is part of the AFP, far from trying to investigate the matter, were actively involved in its cover-up.
Bakchos also told me at that time and which I knew to be his position from our PNG days was that he “intended to hold the white fella accountable to the same standards of the ‘rule of law’ as the white fella holds the black fella accountable to”. Admirable, but naive I thought then and now.
This is where matters stood on this issue until late April 2007 when I received a call from Bakchos saying words to the effect that, “Those bastards from the newsagency are at it again, they want to meet at the Mercantile at the Rocks, can you video the meeting?” I agreed and we met at the Fortune of War to discuss the details before we went to the Mercantile.
Bakchos went in first and was met by two men dressed in suits, which kind of made them stand out in that environment. I followed and sat in a table nearby and proceeded as discreetly as possible to record the meeting. During the meeting the two men meeting with Bakchos were gesticulating a lot and making some rather inflammatory remarks about “Aboriginal troublemakers” and the then recent death of the former ACT Chief Police Officer Ms Audrey Fagan. The video which I have watched several times since I recorded that meeting quite clearly records the two men in suits saying to Bakchos that what happen to Ms Fagan can happen to him or his family if he doesn’t stop making allegations against the ALP. As Bakchos is intending to present the video of this meeting to the United Nations in due course he has asked that I do not go into too much detail in this post.
Not knowing anything about who Ms Fagan was or what the reference about what happened to “Ms Fagan” can happen to him or his family meant, I went and made my own enquiries. What I found left me shaken; I still am when I think back on that meeting.
In January 2007, Mr Jack Waterford OA, 2007 Canberra Citizen of the Year and editor-at-large of the Canberra Times wrote a 1500 word opinion piece about ACT Policing, the AFP Command that Ms Fagan headed. In that opinion piece Mr Waterford described ACT Policing as complacent, unaccountable and incompetent. In particular, his story targeted the police media unit, accusing Ms Fagan’s spin doctors of suppressing information about the true extent of crime in Canberra. Waterford went on to accuse the AFP’s media unit of stymieing journalists’ inquiries about the indecent assault of a college student in Canberra’s inner-south, with the result that the incident went unreported for a fortnight. “Perhaps this was something which the public, not least the women in the vicinity, might have wanted to know about,” Waterford wrote. “Perhaps someone, hearing the description or seeing the photo-fit, might have been able to assist police in their inquiries.”
Waterford also cited the media unit’s failure to adequately publicise a series of sexual assaults the previous year. When the investigating officers were finally allowed to talk to reporters in a bid to solicit help from the community, the alleged perpetrator had been caught within 18 hours, Waterford said.
In that article Waterford also raised the issue of Fagan receiving a kickback from an AFP contractor. Unsurprisingly the AFP professional standards team found no evidence of wrongdoing, but the Commonwealth ombudsman then conducted a second inquiry and recommended that Fagan be counseled. That was in 2005, the year she became Canberra police chief. The ombudsman’s finding against Fagan was never made public, and Fagan must have hoped she had heard the last of it. Now here was Waterford digging up the incident and implying that it was part of a pattern of police corruption.
A few days after Waterford’s opinion piece was published in the Canberra Times, Fagan Committed suicide while on holiday in Queensland. The reference about what happen to “Ms Fagan” can only be understood in the context in which it was made as being a threat to kill Bakchos, a threat issued by two AFP officers in the context of discussing corruption at the highest levels of the ALP and Australian politics.
When Bakchos spoke about the AFP being politicised, I had no idea at the time how politicised it had become. So if what happened to Bakchos passes as human rights in Australia, god help Australia’s democracy!