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Is Integrity Dead in the ACT?

Categories: Accountability, ACT Government, Australian Aborigines, Australian Federal Police, Corporate responsibility, Corruption, Discrimination/Racism, Government, Indigenous People, Justice, Law Enforcement, Racism, Rule of Law, Stolen Generation

by: Watershedd
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You want me to respect the law? Then make the law respectable.

Violet Miller, Suffragette, 2015.

Over the past two years Mr Mullins has walked his long dark night of the soul. He is only now just emerging to a new sense and understanding of the world, still Mr Mullins, but not. And the ACT Government, ACT Police and a nameless complainant are responsible.

Mr Mullins has spoken many times of his disillusionment at the failure of Australia to pay him the full franchise to which he is entitled as a citizen. His experience as one of the Stolen Generation, the child of a black man, has been that the promise of the white man was little more than rhetoric. The outcome of two years of legal fight brought on by a corrupt ACT Government that refuses to investigate the individuals past and present within its ranks, at the hands of the Australian Federal Police through the ACT Police, has reinforced that view.

In March, Mr Mullins won a case brought against him by the ACT Police after a complaint made by an unnamed complainant in the Chief Minister Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD). The complaint alleged that Mr Mullins had provided false documents in the ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT). The prosecution case was defeated in its entirety, a jury of his peers delivering Mr Mullins a 16-0 victory. It was victory that should have been on par with that of the biblical David, but Goliath still breathes because of the structural inequalities that persist in the ACT and deny Mr Mullins relief from the harassment he and his family have endured now for over fifteen years. Indigenous suffrage remains an enigma as the complaint that brought about the legal attack and the questionable testimony by at least one prosecution witness proved by Mr Mullins’ barrister in court, have gone uninvestigated. With such a stunning defeat against a man of limited means, the ACT Police and Government continue to refuse to examine the source of the racism that continues to hound Mr Mullins and his family to this very day.

In the face of a comprehensive defeat such as that suffered by the complainant and the ACT Police, it is expected that the substance and motivations of the complaint be re-examined. The most significant support Mr Mullins held was that of the former ACT Chief Executive & Under Treasurer Mr. Howard Ronaldson. Ted Quinlan was effusive about Ronaldson’s credentials in the Legislative Assembly:

“I have to record that I consider Mr Howard Ronaldson a public servant, an administrator, and an economic adviser of the highest order, and I am sure that the previous government would confirm that. He will be very, very difficult to replace, so the ACT’s loss is Victoria’s singular gain.[1]

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June)

These points borne in mind, Mr. Ronaldson has on three separate occasions provided statements to Police regarding the letter of 9 May, 2002. The ACT Police was in possession of all these statements when Mr Mullins was charged. Mr Ronaldson confirmed on the witness stand in March of this year that he recalled the letter, it’s racist tirade against the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue and that he acted upon its racist tirade sending it for review before he tended his resignation. The original of that letter has since disappeared, but a copy, with Mr Ronaldson’s original signature was forwarded to Mr Mullins for his attention. This was tendered into evidence and the witness accepted the signature as his own.

Even in he face of the Prosecutor challenging Mr Ronaldson on the stand, he maintained his integrity by confirming yet again that he had received the letter of 9 May 2002, and could remember it because of the blatant racism contained within its lines. This is in contrast to his acting successor, Mrs Tu Pham, who later became the ACT Auditor General, who was recalled by the court to clarify her testimony which conflicted with original documents held in the CMTEDD’s own archives, as well as with testimony she had previously given before the ACT Magistrates Court in 2006. These were documents that the Prosecution held, but failed to provide, in their brief of evidence against Mr Mullins.

Mr Ronaldson’s testimony regarding having seen the racially vilifying letter authored in 2002 raises several pertinent questions:

  • What has happened to the original letter?
  • Why is the original of the letter received by Mr Ronaldson not recorded on the ACT Government’s records management system, TRIM?
  • Why was the author not disciplined?
  • The former Commissioner for ACT Revenue’s qualifications were stated; they conflicted with those submitted in a Public Interest Disclosure (PID) dated 19 December, 2003 that brought about his dismissal. Why was this not identified?
  • Mr Ronaldson identified the author of the letter in his statement. This is the same person who submitted the PID in 2003, nineteen months later. Had the original letter of 9 May 2002 been made available, the inconsistencies regarding the claims of the former Commissioner’s qualifications would have been obvious, meaning that some of the evidence had to have been tampered with by someone in ACT Treasury. Who had a vested interest in this manipulation?
  • Who had access to the records?

The ACT Police has failed to pursue the discrepancies in the testimony by investigating the complainants and witnesses for potential conflicts of interest. In any other state or territory such a comprehensive defeat of the prosecution case, where the complaint was a government department and the main prosecution witnesses were past and present senior government officials, including the former Auditor General, would result in a new investigation into the substance of the claims. Failure by ACT Policing to pursue this any further has rendered the justice visited upon Mr Mullins partial at best and points to ongoing bias in ACT Policing and corruption in the ACT Government.

It’s well past time this blatant racism was resolved. The current Chief Minister Andrew Barr paints himself as a leader for the minorities. He has the power to direct that an independent investigation be conducted and to refer the issues for re-investigation by the ACT Police. Persistent failure on his part simply implicates him in the corporate responsibility that is now beyond argument as successive Chief Ministers have not only ignored, but also instigated racially motivated harassment against Mr Mullins and his family. Blak and Black will continue to pursue the exposure of the corruption behind these and other issues in the ACT until those responsible for the suffering experienced by Mr Mullins are forced to face the same justice to which he was exposed. Only then, will justice be served.


[1] Notably, this comment was made in response to a question from Bill Stefaniak regarding the development of an economic white paper from which Treasury, headed by Mr. Ronaldson, was being excluded. Mr. Stefaniak referred to the outgoing Under Treasurer as “one of Treasury’s most senior and respected public servants”.

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