Capital Clusterfucks

Posted: January 13, 2015 in Ranting
Tags: , , ,

In the film Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood was given a rather lovely line. Playing the role of an ornery veteran US Marine, at a formal reception Eastwood was asked by the General commanding the Marines what he thought of an operation earlier that day. “It was a clusterfuck.” Not just a fuck-up but a whole cluster of fuck-ups. I suspect Eastwood enjoyed using that.

The description of ‘clusterfuck’ at times seems to be a pretty good assessment of aspects of certain things here in the Australian capital, Canberra.

Australia became a federated sovereign nation, albeit then still a British Dominion, in 1901. But long before Federation the argument had raged long and loud over which should be the new nation’s capital – Sydney or Melbourne. The dispute continued on after Federation. I recall once seeing a photograph of two distinguished early Australian politicians, white beards and dressed in Victorian-style three-piece suits, squaring up for a punch up over the matter. In the end a compromise was put in place.

A large chunk of southern New South Wales pastoral land was acquired and declared the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). A new city was to be built there from scratch as the capital of Australia. Many other ‘notable’ places in the post-European-arrival history of this continent have colonial histories of interest such as penal colonies and settlements, gold mining rushes or bushranging activities. Indeed the grand old city of Melbourne was originally an illegal settlement activity without any form of colonial endorsement, followed by a completely fraudulent alleged signing of a treaty with local indigenous peoples, ‘gifting’ the land to John Batman and co.

The ACT does not have that sort of ‘historical’ significance or colour. The original inhabitants of the area, the Ngunnawal people, had already been swiftly dispossessed by pastoralists. No transported convict activities. No gold rushes. No bushranging of any significance although the infamous Ben Hall and his gang passed through the area once, quietly grabbing some good horses from one of the squatters in the area. It was miles away from the Sydney-Melbourne route. There was nothing actually there to really encourage creation of a metropolis that was to be the national capital. In post-colonial terms, blandness seems to have been the overriding feature.

After the ACT was created, it did not have its own form of local government, instead being administered by a Federal Ministerial portfolio along with creation of various authorities over time. The push for self-government of the ACT grew in strength – outside of the ACT that is. When it was finally put to the residents of the ACT in a Referendum, it was resoundingly defeated. But the powers that be decided ‘bugger you, you’re having it anyway.’

With all those curiosities behind it, perhaps it is not surprising that Canberra and the ACT has its own distinctive character. And in many respects it certainly is a good city to live in. Unfortunately not all of that character is quite so positive. When it comes to policing and the judiciary system, the Eastwood ‘clusterfuck’ description seems to fit pretty damned well.

Canberra has a quite low rate of convictions for the crime of murder but not because of any lack of such deaths. Instead more often than not, such cases are thrown out or end up downgraded to lesser charges and seemingly so with much greater frequency than in other jurisdictions. But there are some exceptions. A particularly notable exception was the conviction of David Eastman for the murder of Colin Winchester, Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. Veteran journalist, Jack Waterford, was an early visitor to the scene of Winchester’s killing. From that point onwards, Waterford was a strident critic of the entire thing. On his arrival he noticed how even the scene of the killing had not been properly secured. People were wandering around all over the place, including stickybeaking neighbours. From that Amateur Hour beginning, the case against Winchester was always going to be suspect. But Winchester was convicted in 1995 to life imprisonment without parole. Nineteen years later a coronial inquiry, something the ACT’s judicial and political systems had fought against tooth and nail for years, found the whole thing to be a complete clusterfuck, which in turn lead to the conviction being thrown out in 2014. Did Eastman really do it or not? Looks like we won’t ever know. But one thing is for sure – he was in The Big House for nineteen years on a complete ballsup that didn’t even come close to standing up to coronial/legal review.

Was this clusterfuck approach an isolated incident? In my experience, no. Even in smaller matters the policing and judiciary system seem more intent on just getting their way, covering their backsides than bothering about the reality of the outcome or impact on others or even respecting so much as the spirit of the law being administered.

I have several quite specific examples.

Several years ago I appeared at the ACT Magistrates Court as a witness in a case being held on the Saturday morning rush of cases arising from the previous night in the city. So I was present in the court when a young woman appeared for breach of bail hearing. Her bail conditions included specific conditions of a) not being present in the CBD between 6pm and 6am, b) not visiting any licensed premises and c) abstinence from alcohol. But the preceding night the rozzers had found her in the CBD at night, off her face drunk. A clearly embarrassed Legal Aid practitioner was given the job of presenting the case to the Magistrate that while her hungover client had indeed been present in the CDB and intoxicated, she had not entered any licensed premises. Instead the defense claimed she had only consumed alcohol people gave to her out in the street so wasn’t really in breach of all of her bail conditions. Yeah, that happens all the time, doesn’t it – NOT! It was so ludicrous that I was not the only one stifling sniggers. Yet the presiding Magistrate accepted that without question and re-released the woman on bail with an off-hand admonition ‘not to do it again’ before her next Hearing.

Lesson Number One: come up with any gibberish you like to present to ACT Courts.

Now before I go any further, let me make it very clear that I was brought up to respect the law and police officials. And I did so for my entire life. Until the following started up.

I lodged a formal complaint against ACT Policing. My complaint was that police had entered a residence under false pretenses in order to pursue another matter, including arrest, that was so earth-shatteringly serious that a Judge released the person concerned after about 90 seconds worth of hearing. During that event police wanted my details. I refused. I was then told that ‘he won’t know you have made a complaint against him [the individual subsequently arrested]’. I stridently denied I was making any complaint against that person but on that basis of an assurance of anonymity, I provided my name. After the arrest, the same officer who had assured me of my anonymity now approached me and asked me to make a quite specific statement that would have supported their actions. I somehow managed to keep a civil tongue in refusing. Four days later the arrested individual received a written advice from ACT Policing that named me as a complainant against him in the matter of his arrest.

The police were very well aware of that individual’s record of violence and serious prison time for violence. My involvement? I thought he was having a psychotic breakdown and was trying to get him help, being aware that he had previously been forcibly hospitalised and treated for similar concerns.

I contacted the police, demanding to know what the hell was going on? What on earth was this alleged complaint I was supposed to have made? I was refused any information but instead forced to apply for such details via Freedom of Information. When that finally arrived – late – it was another Eastwood moment; a real clusterfuck of dodgy reporting and statements that were so far removed from reality that it was truly disgusting. One officer even went to the trouble of fabricating a statement a third person was supposed to have made in both his presence and mine. I was there and I know bloody well what was said and it sure as shit was not a shouted insistence to ‘stop talking to the police.’ In fact that third party was wanting to know what the police were doing there. Pretty fair question I would have thought. But an officer at some point took the effort supposedly during arrest proceedings that had the visual equivalent of a major bust in a television cop show, of writing that isolated statement in their notebook but without any other details whatsoever. A bit curious, that. And nowhere was there in that FOI documentation any record of my making a complaint. But nor was there any record anywhere of my details being taken or that quite specific assurance of anonymity.

When the investigation of my complaint was ‘concluded’ it stated that anyone who speaks to the police at any time may be documented as a ‘complainant.’ In other words everyone is a potential ‘complainant’ even if you’re the Good Samaritan reporting something to them and shall be referred to as such in any and all documentation including to violent repeat offenders. By that logic, if Mother Therese had contacted ACT Policing to let them know she had found someone in the gutter who had had the crap kicked out of them, she would have become an ACT Policing ‘complainant.’ The ‘investigating’ officer stated that the ‘investigation’ of my complaint was now concluded. The advice then stated that he was yet to speak further to the officers concerned! I repeat – the investigation of the complaint was declared closed while they were still yet to finish talking to the officers who were the subject of the complaint!  Even more importantly, the critical matter of obtaining my details under assurances of anonymity was not even given any response at all. The ‘investigation’ even noted that I had not objected to the police presence at all. Not objected? I stood outside, in the cold, being faced down by seven armed police who kept demanding access to the building. I repeatedly refused and over and over again I asked them to leave as the matter I had originally sought help for was now under control. I was well and truly brow-beaten into granting them access – which I agreed to in the form of the original two attending officers who had already previously entered the building and confirmed that all was now quiet. In fact as that Dynamic Duo were leaving after their first visit, they even originally advised me to ‘give us a call if there are any other problems.’ Not surprisingly as far as I was concerned all was done and dusted. Next thing there were seven rozzers there all browbeating me. And after I admitted those first two officers for a second time, the rest just let themselves in! But none of that actually happened, did it – because the police reports and investigation said otherwise!

*cough cough bullshit cough*

The next step was to take matters to the ACT Ombudsman for further review, to not just clear up the original mess but to now clear my name that was now tainted by all those police ‘reporting’ and ‘investigating’. But what was the point? Certain people within ACT Policing had already amply demonstrated the extent they were prepared to go to in order to get their way, cover their backsides and to hell with consequences for the innocent bystanders. Their reporting of the incident was so far removed from reality it deserved to be filed in the public library next to Lord of the Rings! It ultimately would have been my word against theirs. So taking matters any further would have been a waste of time.

My life became a living hell. The individual concerned refused to believe my story because he had the official documentation very clearly informing him that I had been a complainant against him which lead to his arrest. I was told in no uncertain terms what was going to be done to me, not by him but by others acting on his part. He then spread the word in the area that I was a police informant, acting for the police against people. For the next eighteen months I became almost a hermit.I could not go anywhere much because of threats. Death threats. Threats of violence. Abuse. And I was powerless. When I complained to the police, I was told I had to lodge formal proceedings against all the parties making those threats. What was I expected to do – try and have a heap or people arrested and locked up just on my say so? And given the police actions to begin with, how likely was it to expect anything meaningful to actually result? All that would have been achieved was pissing off more of the scum and a pretty safe bet I would end up hospitalised from the resulting violent pay back. Or worse.

After about eighteen months, the individual at the bottom of it all was put in prison. It was only then that I discovered he was not just on burglary charges as I had been lead to believe, but it had been charges of aggravated burglary – with a firearm! The police had been in full knowledge of that individual’s violent capacities at the time they decided it would be such jolly fun to conjure up a mythical complaint by me and seriously piss him off. It is not an exaggeration to state that on reflection, I am bloody damned lucky to have survived it all. I still have vivid memories of his drunken screaming outside my house that he was going to kill me – and when I later discovered he was supposed to have resorted to firearms, I was physically sick. And the police concerned in it all had full knowledge of that aspect of things. But it didn’t stop them still going ahead and hanging me out to dry like a shitty nappy. His sentence was later reduced on appeal. So in not that many years he will be back on the street. Only time will tell if he is going to still come after me. And I have a pretty good idea of how little help the rozzers will be if he does.

Lesson Number Two: unless you are happy to have ACT Policing bandy your name around as a mythical complainant against violent persons, be cautious about even letting them know your name! And for all the supposed ACT Policing ‘fear’ of being reported to the Standards mob, that is obviously a bloody crock.

All that was pretty dramatic. Perhaps it too was an isolated incident. But an even more recent event has demonstrated that it is not just rozzers playing fast and loose for us to be concerned about.

Incidentally, I also later learned what my real reward was in this matter. A sympathetic contact within ACT Policing confided in me that my name was mud for lodging a complaint and I was now classed as a friend and contact of the individual doing time for aggravated burglary with a firearm.

Last month I was named as a co-respondent in a matter before the ACT Supreme Court. Not surprisingly the Judge in question wanted to know why I wasn’t there. The Applicant to the Court swore on oath that he had served me with all the necessary papers. There was only one problem. This was the infamous Housemate From Hell that I have repeatedly ranted about in social media. He knew damned well that I wasn’t even in the ACT at the time he lodged those materials to the Court. It was only after his statement on oath about serving me with materials that it came out I was interstate for an extended time. In fact I only even learned of my being named courtesy of a telephone call from the other co-respondent letting me know what had transpired. The Judge declared it was impossible to have served me papers as sworn and struck me off as a co-respondent. But the really important thing here was that this had been act of deliberate and knowing perjury. And that is a criminal offense!

The Applicant then appealed to the Court for special consideration in the matter before the Court because it was causing him such considerable hardship as he was then supposed to be attending exams at the Australian National University. The Judge smelled a rat and had his clerk check immediately. The clerk found that ANU’s exams period had ended some weeks previously. So this was perjury number two. And if he truly was the PhD candidate he kept insisting he was then I know from personal experience that PhD’s don’t have all those coursework exams in the first place. So that was acts of perjury Numbers Two and Three before the Supreme Court in a matter of minutes.

Now things get really interesting. The Judge that heard those introductory matters then held over the actual hearing of details to the following day when he was not even available and another judge heard the matter. And Judge Number Two was only concerned with the actual details of the submission to the Court, not the details from the proceeding day. So two acts of perjury were now conveniently forgotten about. I understand that the actual substance of the case was thrown out. However Judge Number Two found that an earlier judicial decision by a Tribunal had erred in a matter of law. And what was that earth-shattering error? The timing of an instructed delivery of yet another Notice to Vacate the residence delivered some months earlier. The subject of the multiple Notices had played the judicial system to keep stringing things along as long as possible. His actual case was so nonsensical that he couldn’t find a single legal practitioner prepared to represent him.

At the end of the day Judge Number Two, having dismissed the substance of the case, nonetheless found in the Applicant’s favour due to that alleged minor error to do with actual timing of delivery of a single piece of paper months earlier. So the Housemate From Hell was allowed to abuse our judicial system, make up a quite defamatory case against myself and others and then deliberately and openly perjure himself before the court – AND WAS REWARDED FOR IT!

I was not surprised to learn just before my return from my extended interstate absence that the Housemate From Hell had now done a runner. After being home for a week I am still discovering the extent of his pilfering things that did not belong to him along with garbage being distributed far and wide for me to clear up. A properly conducted forced eviction would have avoided that but instead he was given ample time to plan his runner and make material gains in the process.

Incidentally, on my return home there were no documents for the Supreme Court waiting for me. Not only had he falsely sworn he had delivered them to me, it seems they never existed in the first place!

What really infuriated me was how someone can commit multiple deliberate acts of perjury before the ACT Supreme Court and get away with it. This was in addition to numerous, repeated and proven lies before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal leading up to the Supreme Court case. I am not sure if those also count as perjury or not. Not that the Supreme Court seemed terribly worried about it anyway.

Believe it or not, I do still believe justice should be done to all. And it may have simply been that swapping from Judge Number One to Judge Number Two saw consideration of the acts of perjury just fall between the cracks. So I sent a detailed complaint about it all to the ACT Attorney General. And today I received Attorney General Corbell’s response. He stated that it is not for him to comment on a case before the courts and essentially informed me to go away and annoy someone else.

Couple of problems there. First it was not ‘before’ the Courts (present tense) but was a completed and finalised case (past tense). Two, according to an Australian Government website < http://www.aph.gov.au > an Attorney General “has three distinct but related functions – a policy function, a legal service function and a public interest function.” Surely ensuring that Courts actually enforce the law falls into those functions? Surely the Attorney General has an obligation to ensure that the Courts actually function properly? Surely it is at least in ‘public interest’ to ensure that people appearing before the Courts actually respect their law in the first place rather than perjure their arse off?

Apparently not so in the ACT.

Lesson Number Three: feel free to perjure your fat arse off in ACT Courts as much as you like because nobody in judicialdom gives a shit if you do.

The written response from Attorney General Simon Corbell was a literary equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting ‘nah nah nah I can’t hear you.’ And if he can’t ‘hear’ me then he can’t be expected to actually do anything about it either, can he?

All the above is in addition to other earlier little escapades such as ACT Policing being informed of drug dealing activities in the local area – and doing nothing about them. I actually reported a dealer who was openly growing a crop of marijuana for distribution. They grew it, harvested it and disposed of it. And ACT Policing did nothing about it despite two separate reports that I am aware of. Another former dealer openly boasted that he used the Kevin Rudd $900 gift to stock up and start dealing again. A number of people reported him. Police had investigated him some years earlier but at the time he received word from the person dobbing him in that the rozzers were on their way over so he quickly moved his stock and equipment into the boot of his car. And nobody bothered to have a look at his vehicle. Top investigative work that was. He openly laughed it about it for a long time. Two years after resuming dealing activities he died of an overdose with ACT Policing still yet to do a damn thing about him and his dealing. Any reasonable person could readily conclude that ACT Policing aren’t really as concerned about drug dealing as they like to tell us they are.

I am left with an inescapable conclusion; that policing and judiciary in the capital of Australia are a real Eastwood – a clusterfuck – with the legal protagonists more concerned with covering their own backsides and not bothering too much about the niceties of justice or even of the law. The impact of their vile shortcomings on others lays very low down on their list of priorities – probably at the rear of Appendix 37, written on a scrap of toilet paper when the stationary ran out. In fact crime gangs in Australia could do a lot worse than transferring their operational headquarters to the ACT. Based on the plentiful evidence, they would be able to operate pretty safely without legal interference.

Of course something could be done about it in bringing all these clowns to order. But all this has been going on for years under successive governments from both sides of the ACT Legislative Assembly. And it still goes on. And even our Attorney General cannot be bothered to do anything about actually realising his role.

Yep. It’s a real clusterfuck.

Ross sig

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