BY JAMES KENNETH BOWEN (concise CV)
LEFT: James Kenneth Bowen has attended a 50th anniversary commemoration of Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War (1962-1975); RIGHT: Major James Bowen is standing outside his tent at the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, South Vietnam, during the Communist Tet Offensive in 1968.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The author of this comment graduated BA; LLB (politics, history, German language, and law) from the University of Queensland in 1959, and spent twenty-nine years in legal practice and seven years as an army officer in the Australian Army. He held the offices of Senior Crown Prosecutor and Assistant Secretary for Law in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea (1961-1967). At this time Papua was still part of the Commonwealth of Australia, and New Guinea was administered by Australia as a United Nations Trust Territory. James Bowen served as a major in the Australian Army from 1967 to 1973 (two years Regular Army and five years as Assistant Provost Marshal in the Australian Citizen MIlitary Force). That military service included service at Nui Dat and Vung Tau in Vietnam in 1968 during the Vietnam War. He held the appointment of Crown Prosecutor in Canberra from 1969 to 1978. He was appointed by the Victorian Governor-in-Council to the statutory office of Prosecutor for the Queen in 1978 and retired from that office in 1993.
As a graduate historian, his major focus now is researching and writing about the Japanese attack on Australia in 1942, and in particular, the fighting on the Kokoda Track when Japanese troops invaded Australian soil on 21 July 1942.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison
Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison (above) scaled a massively elevated level of self-gratification by departing Australia with his family in late December 2019 to enjoy a holiday in Hawaii. He would probably say that everyone is entitled to take a holiday, but he indulged this appalling exercise in self-gratification at a time when Australia was being ravaged by bushfires in three States, with nine people dead including two volunteer firefighters, more than 700 homes destroyed, and millions of hectares scorched.
Residents of fire-ravaged Kobargo refuse to shake the hand of Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison, freshly returned from his family holiday frolic in sunny Hawaii while Australia was burning, appears to have triggered the poseur detectors in bushfire-ravaged Cobargo while touring the small New South Wales town because he received a very hostile reception from the country folk. A firefighter refused to shake Morrison’s hand when the prime minister approached him. He made very clear his revulsion by saying to the prime minister, “I don’t really want to shake your hand.”
When a female resident declined to accept Morrison’s hand when he offered it, the prime minister reached down and took hold of her hand and shook it. He obviously failed to realise that he had just committed a technical common assault. When residents called out "You're not welcome here", an obviously embarrassed Morrison retreated quickly to his Commonwealth BMW and sped off.
IMAGE LEFT: Scott "Hawaii" Morrison presided as Australia's treasurer over the loss by Australia of all vital car manufacturing; IMAGE RIGHT: the last Holden Commodore rolls off the assembly line in 2017.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison was appointed Federal treasurer by Prime MInister Malcolm Turnbull in September 2015 over the knifed body of Prime MInister Tony Abbott, and he held the office of treasurer until he secured the office of prime minister in August 2018. Morrison has never entirely shaken off the stench of disloyalty emanating from his role in the ousting of Tony Abbott and his reward of the office of treasurer from a grateful and equally disloyal Turnbull.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison presided as Australian treasurer over the closing down of all car design and manufacture in Australia. In October 2017, Holden followed Ford and Toyota by shutting the door on car design and anufacture. After 100 years of building cars in Australia, Holden closed its doors, leaving 2500 employees without jobs and hundreds of automotive suppliers without work and faced with closure.
The grave implications for Australia of the shutting down of a strategically vital industry are made clear by Craig Milne* writing in "News Weekly" of 3 April 2021:
“The Australian automotive industry was efficient, technically capable, and in possession of world-class design and engineering skills…Apart from its significant addition to economic output, automotive manufacturing made an important contribution to Australia’s technical capabilities … The automotive industry encompassed an encyclopaedic range of important, complex, and difficult manufacturing processes…It employed advanced manufacturing techniques, like robotics and automation; it managed complex materials handling and assembly procedures, and attained operational and quality-management practices at the best standard of performance. * Chief Executive, Australian Productivity Council.
The loss of this industry, and the subsequent dissipation of its embedded skills and capabilities, has meant that any Australian capacity to undertake the production of complex , technology-intensive products in large volume, with high reliability and quality, and at a low cost, has now been lost.”
Only bumbling incompetence can explain the fact that Ford, Toyota, and Holden were all allowed to close down car design and manufacture in Australia without any apparent effort on the part of Treasurer Morrison to save any. The complex industrial skills involved in car design and manufacture are also very relevant to Australia's defence capabilities - as Craig Milne makes very clear. Treasurer Morrison obviously failed to appreciate this fact that should have been obvious to anyone but the proverbial "village idiot'.
Thailand builds cars for Japanese maker Honda, and with the cost of labour in countries like Thailand a tiny fraction of Australia's labour costs, and with no tariff on cars imported from countries with which Australia has a free trade agreement such as Thailand, and only 5 percent tariff on cars imported from other countries*, it was obvious that Australia's relatively small population could not sustain operations by three car manufacturers. But one car manufacturing operation could almost certainly have been saved if Treasurer Morrison had the sense and will to do so. * NOTE: To protect its car manufacturing, China sensibly imposes an average tariff of 25 per cent on imported cars.
Anyone but a bumbling incompetent politician like Scott "Hawaii" Morrison should have been able to save at least one car manufacturer in Australia. Using Section 51 (xxxi) of the Australian Constitution, Morrison could have acquired "on just terms" either Ford, Holden, or Toyota when it became clear that those companies were shutting down all car design and manufacture in Australia and run the acquired factory as an essential Commonwealth defence-related enterprise. He should have appreciated that Germany and France subsidise their car industries massively because those countries appreciate how vital car design and manufacturing is to create and retain skills relevant to the defence of their countries. Morrison could have used Commonwealth pressure to ensure that the many thousands of cars used at every level of government down to city councils came from an Australian car factory.
As Communist China's threatening shadow comes ever closer, Australians may learn to regret that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison lacked the intelligence, as treasurer, to appreciate that car design and manufacturing is a vital defence-related capability.
The bumbling incompetence of former Treasurer Scott “Hawaii” Morrison has seriously impaired Australia’s defence capabilities in any protracted war when sea lanes can be easily disrupted. We can only hope that a leader of the Australian Labor Party at national level will see the return of car design and manufacture as vital to Australia's defence capabilities.
Why would the prime minister of a middle-sized power, such as Australia, which is massively dependent on trade with communist China lead the world in calling for an investigation of the source of the deadly coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan? The source is important to the free world because the the likely sources of the coronavirus in Wuhan is either a so-called "wet market" or the Wuhan Institute of Virology which is linked to China's military. Think biological warfare, and we know why communist China is so sensitive about this issue because President Xi closed the rest of China to the coronavirus but allowed it to be exported to the free world where it has devasted economies, and had infected over 100 million people and killed 2,405,432 at 14 February 2021.
The call for investigation of the source of the Wuhan coronavirus from Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison predictably angered the communist Chinese leader President Xi who retaliated by causing harsh and totally irrational restrictions to be imposed on Australia's trade with China. This result from a communist dictatorship should have been predicted by any leader who was not driven by a mad urge to "bestride"* the world stage as a miniature colossus. Why did our foolish prime minister not urge the United States to be the first to call for such an inquiry. President Trump would almost certainly have been happy to lead the call for an inquiry into the source of the Wuhan virus. * drawn from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar".
Can Australians respect a prime minister who tolerates the deliberate false demeaning of Kokoda and dishonouring of Kokoda heroes by the management of the Australian War Memorial?
Can Australians respect a prime minister who tolerates the deliberate false smearing of Australia's Kokoda heroes as lesser soldiers than the Japanese whom they defeated on the Kokoda Track in 1942?
Since 2012, the Australian War Memorial has been publishing material, finally incorporated in a book with the insulting title "Kokoda beyond the Legend" (see below). The title is insulting because Robin Hood and King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table are the stuff of legend. Kokoda is historical fact, not legend. The book "Kokoda beyond the Legend" falsely diminishes the strategic importance of Kokoda to Australia in 1942 in two chapters and falsely suggests that our understanding of the magnificent Kokoda achievement is ridden with myths. Not content with false distortion of history, this Australian War Memorial book falsely presents Kokoda as not being part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1942, and thereby, falsely denies Australian heroes, including Bruce Kingsbury VC and John French VC, the honour of dying on Australian soil in defence of land that was still part of Australia in 1942. In a third chapter of this appalling publication "Kokoda beyond the Legend", Australia's Kokoda heroes are falsely smeared as lesser fighters than the Japanese they defeated on the Kokoda Track.
On 17 October 2019, I sent to Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison a full briefing concerning the apparent deliberate campaign by the Australian War Memorial since 2012 to diminish the importance of Kokoda to Australians and to smear Australia's Kokoda heroes as lesser fighters than the Japanese they defeated in bloody fighting on a part of Papua that we know as the Kokoda Track. Those Australian heroes fought, bled, and died on what was sovereign Australian soil in 1942, also known as the Kokoda Track, to repel a Japanese invasion of land that was still part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1942.
Papua was still part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1942 because ownership of Papua was transferred by Britain to Australia in 1902 and became part of the Commonwealth of Australia with the passing of the Papua Act 1905 (C'wealth). Papua remained a part of the Commonwealth of Australia until it received independence in 1975. The capital of Papua in 1942 was Port Moresby and its capture by Japanese troops crossing the Kokoda Track (Operation MO) was a strategic priority that was intended to anchor the total isolation of Australia from the United States in 1942 (Japan’s Operation FS). Those Australian heroes who fought, bled, and died on the Kokoda Track were defending Australia against a Japanese invasion of land that was still part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1942. Kokoda should be of great importance to all Australians because the Japanese invasion of Papua on 21 July 1942 was the first invasion of the Commonwealth of Australia since Federation.
The prime minister has not bothered to reply to my briefing which was fully supported by sound historical evidence. If he had bothered to read it, he should have been convinced that the appalling treatment of Kokoda in the book "Kokoda beyond the Legend" was contradicted by readily available historical facts in the official Australian and Japanese histories of the Kokoda fighting in 1942. Subsequent attempts by me to obtain a response from the prime minister on 3 July 2020 and 1 March 2021 have also been ignored.
My repeated public exposures between 2012 and 2019 of these appalling false treatments of Kokoda history have produced no challenges from the director of the Australian War Memorial Brendan Nelson, the Memorial Council, or any of the historians whose demeaning treatments of Kokoda and Australia's Kokoda heroes have been publicly shown by me to be false. It should apparent, as a matter of common sense, that those connected with the publication of "Kokoda beyond the Legend" fear that a public challenge directed to me would produce exposure of the massive inadequacy of their knowledge of the Kokoda fighting in 1942.
This page is my response to the failure of the prime minister to make any reply to my briefing on the appalling treatment of Kokoda by the Australian War Memorial since 2012.
Thinking about what I perceived to be disturbing aspects of the character of Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison, and especially the lack of empathy with the fallen heroes of Kokoda, I was also compelled to think about his initial refusal to support awarding a posthumous Victoria Cross to young sailor Edward "Teddy" Sheean who sacrificed himself in 1942 to defend his shipmates as the torpedoed HMAS Armidale was sinking and under fire from Japanese aircraft. I restate that I am not for one moment suggesting that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison has a narcissistic personality disorder, but I am troubled by the fact that many narcissists resent heroism displayed by others because their selfish obsesson with themselves would prevent them sacrificing their own lives as "Teddy" Sheean did for his shipmates. I believe that the time has come for Scott "Hawaii" Morrison to satisfy Australians that his appearances of selfish entitlement to take a holiday in Hawaii when his country was burning and his appearance of lacking empathy with Australia's terrible sacrifices in war are characteristics of a small number of politicians and without more disturbing causes.
In 2013, the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal rejected the award of a Victoria Cross posthumously to Teddy Sheean. That tribunal was chaired by a lawyer with experience in copyright law, and several members of the tribunal had no military experience, although one had experience in human resources (formerly known as personnel management) for what that may be worth when assessing military heroism. The three female members of the tribunal brought to the consideration of Teddy Sheean’s sacrifice of his life their experience as civilian lawyers and a psychologist. We are surely entitled to ask whether any of these people would even contemplate giving their life deliberately to save another person who was not a very close family member. My long experience in the criminal law and formal study of criminology have taught me that many people feel resentment when confronted with extraordinary heroism in the face of death because they recognise in themselves a likelihood of cowardice if faced with a similar threat to their own lives. We cannot ignore this common human failing when we address the extraordinary heroism of Teddy Sheaan.
I read the 2013 report as an experienced senior Crown prosecutor, former regular army officer who served with the Australian Army in Vietnam in 1968 and experienced during the massive communist Tet Offensive the sound of M109 155mm howitzers firing every ten minutes over my tent at the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, co-author of a book on forensic science including ballistics (1985), and graduate military historian (University of Queensland).
I was not impressed with the quality of the 2013 tribunal’s report in regard to Teddy Sheean, although Scott "Hawaii" Morrison clung to it as authoritative when he and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds rejected a second inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal in 2019 which unanimously recommended a posthumous award of a Victoria Cross to Teddy Sheean. Under political pressure, Scott "Hawaii" Morrison did a backflip worthy of Jim Hacker in the BBC political sitcom “Yes, Prime Minister” and announced on 10 June 2020 that he had "commissioned an expert panel" to provide advice as to whether the 2019 review by the tribunal "had any significant new evidence … compelling enough to support a recommendation by the Government that Sheean's Mention in Despatches be replaced by a Victoria Cross". Mr Morrison said “the panel (would) be chaired by former minister for defence and former director of the Australia War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson AO, with former solicitor-general David Bennett AC QC, former secretary of the department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Peter Shergold AC, and senior curator and historian at the NSW Anzac Memorial, Brad Manera.”
The appointment of Brendan Nelson to chair this so-called “expert panel” will surprise those Australians who are aware that Nelson permitted publication of the book “Kokoda beyond the Legend” in 2017 which falsely claimed in two chapters that Kokoda was not part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1942, thereby effectively denying our dead Kokoda heroes, including Bruce Kingsbury VC and John French VC, the honour of fighting, bleeding, and dying to defend soil that was still part of Australia in 1942. Not content with that easily proven falsehood, this appalling Australian War Memorial publication falsely smeared Australian defenders of the Kokoda Track in another chapter as lesser fighters than the Japanese whom they defeated and drove back to their beachheads. Scott "Hawaii" Morrison was fully acquainted by me in 2019 with this totally unjustified denigration of Kokoda and the Australians who fought, bled, and died on Australian soil during the Kokoda fighting (see above). I received no response from him, and the appointment of the publisher of "Kokoda beyond the Legend" to chair the so-called "expert panel" reinforced my impression that in Scott "Hawaii" Morrison, Australians have a prime minister who appears to care very little about the sacrifices of Australians in war.
The other three members of the so-called “expert panel” appear to have academic, legal, and business experience, but I am not aware of any military experience that they may possess. In other words, it appears to me that this so-called “expert panel” is not really equipped to assess the level of heroism displayed by Teddy Sheean when he sacrificed his life to save his shipmates. I believe that appointment of this “expert panel” is nothing more than a cynical sham intended to disguise Mr Morrison’s real intention of allowing no award of a posthumous Victoria Cross to Teddy Sheean; and I believe that this appearance of sham is strengthened upon examination of the virtually insurmountable barrier that this prime minister has placed in front of the “expert panel” recommending an award, namely, when he said:
“…the Government's view and clear policy is that consideration of the awarding of a retrospective Victoria Cross would only occur in light of compelling new evidence or if there was evidence of significant maladministration."
Let me try to help the so-called “expert panel” by mentioning an aspect of the findings of the 2013 inquiry which I view as deeply flawed. That aspect of the 2013 report was the refusal of the tribunal members to accept, appreciate, and treat as proof of extraordinary heroism, the uncontradicted evidence from eyewitness shipmates that "Teddy" Sheean’s 20mm Oerlikon gun continued firing and producing upward spurts of seawater even after the gun's muzzle had sunk below the surface of the sea. It follows irresistibly that "Teddy" Sheean was still firing at the attacking Japanese aircraft even as he was drowning. He did not abandon the Oerlikon gun and swim to the surface. He died still fighting to save his shipmates. By rejecting this evidence from eyewitnesses as unlikely, the members of the 2013 tribunal denied to themselves appreciation that Sheaan was prepared to sacrifice his life in defence of his shipmates. As co-author with Chief Justice of Victoria John Phillips of a book on forensic science*, including ballistics, I believe that a military ordnance expert could have explained to the first tribunal that the upward spurts of seawater were consistent with the Oerlikon gun continuing to fire for a very short time even after its muzzle had sunk below the surface. This evidence that "Teddy" Shean was prepared to sacrifice his life to defend his shipmates was surely consistent with the extraordinary heroism that would justify an award of a Victoria Cross. The rejection by the 2013 tribunal of evidence that "Teddy" Sheean continued firing the Oerlikon gun, albeit briefly, after he and his gun had sunk beneath the surface of the sea should be treated as a failure by that tribunal to accept cogent evidence of extrordinary heroism.
I believe that it is clear that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison is a prime minister who cares nothing for the gallant sacrifices of Australians in war, and I feel that his mean-spirited failure to defend the honour of Australia’s Kokoda heroes against false denigration and to acknowledge appropriately the extraordinary heroism of "Teddy" Sheean deserves a wider audience. I will be sending my views on these important aspects of Australia’s military history to the Opposition Leader the Honourable Anthony Albanese MP, to members of Federal and State parliaments with military backgrounds, and to columnists and senior journalists who are likely to appreciate the need to honour the sacrifices made by Australians in war.
Despite the apparent purpose of the terms of reference of the "expert panel" appointed by Scott "Hawaii" Morrison being to override the recommendation by a Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal in 2019 to award a posthumous Victoria Cross to "Teddy" Sheean, the "expert panel" surprisingly overrode the primie minister's clear purpose and recommended the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross to "Teddy" Sheean. This leaves Prime MInister Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds with egg on their faces for opposing a very clearly deserved award. Her Majesty the Queen of Australia approved the award to "Teddy" Sheean on 12 August 2020.
Australia inherited from Britain the centuries-old recognition of the presumption of innocence as an important feature of the right of persons accused of crime to receive a fair trial. Scott "Hawaii" Morrison has demonstrated an intention to recognise the presumption of innocence only when it suits his political purposes and regardless of whether he is denying a fair trial to a person accused of serious crime. He demonstrated this appalling failure of a prime minister's duty to uphold the criminal justice system when he used a public statement by him to deny the presumption of innocence to Cardinal George Pell in 2018. The Cardinal had been charged with commission of sexual crimes against choir boys on two occasions in St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne when the Cardinal had been Archbishop of Melbourne. These charges came to be called the "Cathedral charges".
The Victoria Police and the ABC put a great deal of effort into seeing Cardinal Pell face charges of sexual abuse of chidren. In the case of the Victoria Police, we have learned that the police set up Operation Tethering in 2013 in an extraordinary effort to locate witnesses who would make allegations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Pell. Most of these allegations were so flimsy or ridiculous that they did not pass the magistrates court. The five surviving allegations were the equally ridiculous "Cathedral charges".
The prosecution case on the "Cathedral charges", as it was left to the jury, alleged that the offending occurred on two separate occasions, the first (four charges) on 15 or 22 December 1996 and the second (one charge) on 23 February 1997. The incidents were alleged to have occurred in and near the priests' sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral, and immediately following the celebration of Sunday solemn Mass and while the Cathedral was still thronged with clergy, altar servers, about sixty adult and child members of the choir, and many members of the congregation. The victims of the alleged offending were two Cathedral choirboys aged 13 years at the time of the events. One of the choirboys died before the trial of Cardinal Pell after telling his mother that the allegations against the Cardinal were untrue.
Speaking as a person who held the statutory office of Prosecutor for the Queen in Victoria for fifteen years, I have publicly described the evidence purporting to support the "Cathedral charges" against the Cardinal as utterly implausible. The first of the "Cathedral charges" required then Archbishop Pell to defy the laws of physics and be in two places at the same time. Credible evidence placed Archbishop Pell with his master of ceremonies Monsignor Portelli at the front of the Cathedral saying farewell to members of the congregation at the time when the first four Cathedral charges were alleged to have occurred.
The second "Cathedral charge" alleged that then Archbishop Pell sexually asaulted a choirboy in the presence of a large number of people, including clergy, who had attended the Mass. None of this large number of alleged eyewitnesses was called by the prosecution to provide supporting corroboration for this fantastic allegation. This second "Cathedral charge was so ridiculous that it reflects poorly on the Victorian criminal justice system that it ever went before a jury. As Prosecutor for the Queen, I would have refused to sign the presentment containing any of the "Cathedral charges" against Cardinal Pell that went before juries in two trials in 2018.
Two weeks before the trial commenced that saw Cardinal George Pell convicted of wildly improbable sexual charges, Scott "Hawaii" Morrison made an extraordinary statement as prime minister to parliament on 22 October 2018 in the form of a "National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse". Instead of following the usual format of support for victims and survivors of sexual abuse, Morrison offered the extraordinary declaration "we believe you" without any qualification. That public declaration from Prime Minister Morrison effectively banished the centuries-old presumption of innocence from consideration when dealing with allegations of sexual crime. Being a public declaration by Prime Minister Morrison on a very controversial subject, his rejection of the presumption of innocence when dealing with accusations of sexual crime would be very likely to circulate widely across Australia and almost certainly become known to members of the jury that were to consider and determine the charges laid against Cardinal Pell. It follows that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison's public rejection of the presumption of innocence when dealing with charges of sexual crime almost certainly contributed to the denial of a fair trial to Cardinal Pell in December 2018, and almost certainly contributed to his conviction for alleged sexual crimes that were based on absurdly implausible evidence.
Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison cannot escape a reasonable conclusion that his public rejection of the presumption of innocence when dealing with accusations of sexual crime probably contributed to producing a grave miscarriage of justice in relation to the trial of Cardinal Pell.
Cardinal Pell was convicted of all five charges on 11 December 2018 and he appealed against all convictions to the Full Court of Victoria. The Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and President of the Court of Appeal Chris Maxwell both lacked any significant experience of the operation of a criminal justice system and rejected the Cardinal's appeal. Their judgments reflect that lack of criminal experience. The only member of the Court of Appeal with experience of the criminal justice system was Justice Mark Weinberg. In a powerful dissenting judgment, he upheld the Cardinal's appeal and found the five convictions to be not justified by the evidence placed before the jury.
The High Court of Australia unanimously upheld the Cardinal's appeal and quashed the five convictions. The High Court adopted Justice Weinberg's view that the convictions could not stand, and effectively held that Court of Appeal Justices Ferguson and Maxwell had an inadequate appreciation of criminal law. Prominent legal commentator Chris Merritt, wrote in "The Australian" newspaper:
"The baseless conviction of Cardinal Pell is an international scandal that will rank alongside the jailing of Lindy Chamberlain for the murder of her baby, who was actually taken by a dingo."
Some comment with regard to the serious miscarriage of justice that almost certainly led to the unjust conviction of Cardinal Pell appears to be appropriate because I believe that the Cardinal's treatment was even worse than that suffered by LIndy Chamberlain, and I had a small role to play in defending her that has never been made public.
Chief Justice Ferguson was appointed by Labor Attorney-General Rob Hulls to the Supreme Court of Victoria from practice as a solicitor in insolvency and general commercial litigation. She came to the case of Cardinal Pell with no broad experience of the criminal justice system.
Justice Maxwell was a practising barrister with no broad experience of the criminal justice system when Labor Attorney-General Rob Hulls appointed him President of Victoria's Court of Appeal over the heads of very experienced Supreme Court judges. His appointment as President of the Court of Appeal caused considerable surprise and was widely attributed to his strong background in defending human rights. He came to the case of Cardinal Pell with no broad experience of the criminal justice system.
This lack of any depth of experience of the criminal justice system on the parts of Justices Ferguson and Maxwell becomes readily apparent to an experienced criminal lawyer when reading their judgments in the appeal of Cardinal Pell and when comparing them with the judgment of the third and dissenting Appeal Court Justice Mark Weinberg whose superb grasp of the grave errors afflicting the conviction of Cardinal Pell becomes readily apparent to a reader of his judgment. Before appointment to the Supreme Court of Victoria, Justice Weinberg had extensive experience of the functioning of the criminal justice system, and I remember him particularly as being one of the few defence lawyers who defeated me soundly in the criminal division of Victoria’s Court of Appeal.
The most fundamental error in the judgments of Justices Ferguson and Maxwell was their treating each piece of exculpatory evidence separately and asking themselves whether in the case of each piece of exculpatory evidence it was still possible that the alleged victim’s account could have been true. This fragmentary approach to the evidence was a fundamental error that could possibly be explained by their lack of broad experience of the criminal justice system.
An experienced appeal court criminal lawyer would see the error immediately, and the High Court made clear the error of Justices Ferguson and Maxwell in failing to consider whether the body of exculpatory evidence taken as a whole could produce a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim’s story was true and thus open a reasonable doubt as to the Cardinal’s guilt.
The fact that Cardinal Pell ever faced trial by jury on utterly implausible charges reflects poorly on the criminal justice system in Victoria. A large measure of blame for the probable miscarriage of justice that produced the five totally unjustified convictions of Cardinal Pell must rest on Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison's appalling public rejection of the centuries-old presumption of innocence from consideration when dealing with allegations of sexual crime. Cardinal Pell deserves an apology from Scott "Hawaii" Morrison, but sadly, he is unlikely to receive it from a politician of his character.
To anyone tempted to dismiss this comment as probably written by a Roman Catholic, I point out that I am a very Scottish Presbyterian.
LEFT: North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jon Un; MIDDLE LEFT: Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison: MIDDLE RIGHT: Defence Minister Linda Reynolds: RIGHT: Chief of Defence General Angus Campbell.
North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un might find that he shares values with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, and General Angus Campbell. Mr Kim must surely admire a leader who abandons his country to take a holiday in Hawaii when Australia is being ravaged by bushfires and Australians are dying in the flames.
He must also be impressed by a leader who refuses to defend against false smears and denigration the Kokoda heroes who died defending the first invasion of Australia as a real nation in 1942.
When released to the public in November 2020, the Brereton Report purported to have discovered "credible evidence" of thirty-nine murders by nineteen Australian soldiers fighting the Taliban and other hostile insurgents in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2016. The release of the Brereton Report was turned by Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, and Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell into a witch hunt that defamed thousands of completly blameless men and women who had served Australia in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2016. Accepting the Brereton Report as if it actually provided "credible evidence" of war crimes, Scott "Hawaii" Morrison told Australians that the report exposed "brutal truths" of vile war crimes. It follows irresistibly from an inept prime minister's reference to "brutal truths" that he was denying to the nineteen soldiers accused by Major General Brereton of war crimes in Afghanistan the centuries-old presumption of innocence. He was also placing at grave risk any possibility of the nineteen achieving a fair trial in civilian courts before juries. Scott "Hawaii" Morrison gives the appearance that he would be comfortable with the sort of justice administered in North Korea.
Having risked their lives for Australia under appalling conditions in Afghanistan, thousands of blameless men and women have been caught up in a witch hunt triggered by a foolish prime minister, and equally foolish minister and senior general who appeared to feel that mere allegations of war crimes in the Brereton Report, and that is all they are, justified the stripping of medals and meritorious unit citations from from all who served in Afghanistan over nearly two decades. These three foolish leaders appear never to have heard of the centuries-old right of every Australian suspected of crime to a presumption of innocence until that presumption is overturned by a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt by a court of law.
Assuming guilt based on mere allegations, and without any need for proof beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, General Campbell said the Brereton Report disclosed a "disgraceful and a profound betrayal of the Australian Defence Force’s professional standards and expectations". Again, without proof of guilt of any war crime beyond reasonable doubt, Campbell further announced that he would recommend stripping all personnel who have served in and with the special forces in Afghanistan of their meritorious unit citations. We expect to hear this sort of denial of basic human rights coming out of North Korea but not in Australia.
The Brereton Report was produced by a judge who also happens to be an army reserve major-general without any apparent actual war service or investigative experience. After a four-year investigation, the major-general produced a report that did not, as it should, allege commissions of war crimes in Afghanistan but claimed to have found "credible evidence"of thirty-nine war crimes committed by nineteen serving Australian soldiers in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2016. I fail to understand how Major General Brereton thought he was authorised to find "credible evidence" of war crimes as distinct from finding evidence that he felt carried sufficient weight to justify investigation by experts and possibly leading to criminal trials before judges and juries.
Anxious to establish his high priest of "woke" credentials, Australia's Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison did not wait for the truth, or otherwise, of these war crime allegations to be tested by cross-examination or refuted by contradictory evidence in front of a judge and jury, He immediately and foolishly contacted the president of Afghanistan to apologise for these alleged war crimes. Our fawning, obsequious prime minister was effectively denying to any Australian who may be charged with a war crime in Afghanistan the presumption of innocence of guilt that has been handed down to Australians over hundreds of years.
LEFT: Prime MInister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison; RIGHT: Brittany Higgins alleges that she was raped by a Liberal staff member in the parliamentary office of Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds in March 2019.
Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii Morrison" faces a serious risk of accusations of hypocrisy in his contradictory approach to allegations of sexual offences and sexual harrassment in Parliament House, and in particular, the allegation of rape levelled at a Liberal staffer by Brittany Higgins and the allegation of historical rape levelled at Attorney General Christian Porter by an anonymous deceased woman.
I say nothing about the nature of the pending charge of rape against a Liberal staff member arising from a complaint by Brittany Higgins because I know nothing of the facts, and consideration of supporting evidence will be the province of a jury if the case proceeds to trial.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison is now telling us that he proposes to address the rape allegation against a Liberal staffer made by Brittany Higgins and claims of unhealthy attitudes, including sexual harrassment, towards female politicians and staffers in the Australian Parliament by introducing quotas for appointment of women as politicians and staffers. The absence of any logical connection between the intoduction of quotas for female employment and allegations of rape and sexual harrassment in the Australian Parliament appears to be lost on this bumbling excuse for a prime minister.
In another attempt to take the heat off him and the Coalition Government, Scott "Hawaii" Morrison has initiated five parliamentary inquiries. The inquiries cover a broad range of issues, from how to improve the workplace culture at Parliament House to who knew what and when inside the Prime Minister's Office about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins. The answer to allegations of rape and sexual harrassment is swift involvement of police or termination of employment, but not parliamentary inquiries that have a well-deserved reputation for being totally useless in producing meaningful results as well as involving denial of the presumption of innocence that can only be guaranteed in the law courts.
As if this was not sufficient evidence that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison is unfit to be prime minister of Australia, we learned on 26 March 2021 that Morrison had invited Brittany Higgins to meet with him at any place of her choosing. Such a meeting after Bethany Higgins had indicated publicly that she would be pursuing her rape allegation against a Liberal Party staffer is not just an appalling error of judgment by the prime minister. It involves gross impropriety on the part of the prime Minister because it gives an appearance that the prime minister is taking the side of Bethany Higgins against the man accused by her of rape in 2019. Such a meeting is another clear denial of the presumption of innocence by Morrison, and it has the potential to prejudice the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins receiving a fair trial.
While denying the presumption of innocence to Cardinal George Pell and thousands of blameless members of Australia's defence force who risked their lives in Afganistan, Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison was happy to rediscover and invoke the centuries-old presumption of innocence to protect Liberal colleague Attorney General Christian Porter from an accusation of historical rape dating back to 1988 when Porter was seventeen.
The attempt to protect Christian Porter from the consequences of an accusation of rape demonstrates the capacity of Scott "Hawaii" Morrison to recognise the presumption of innocence only when it suits his political purposes.
At the opening of a new maintenance and repair hub for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (shown above) in New South Wales , Scott “Hawaii” Morrison described the controversial and relatively under-powered F-35 ground and sea level attack fighter acquired by Australia at a massive cost to taxpayers as “incredible” and a means for Australia to “maintain its sovereignty”. He may have to explain his use of this extravagant marketing language to the families of pilots who suffer "flame-out" from the F-35’s single engine while over sea and far from land.
The risk to aircraft from "flame-out", or loss of engine power, is not so great with multi-engine aircraft, and that is one important reason together with greater power that persuaded the United States, Russia, and China to choose twin-engined aircraft for the air superiority or combat role.
In any discussion of Australia’s defence preparedness, the imperial expansion and sophisticated military strength of the Communist China super power is the massive elephant in the room that Australia’s military chiefs appear reluctant to acknowledge. Australia’s political chiefs appear to be equally reluctant to acknowledge this looming threat when choosing very expensive fighter aircraft and submarine replacements that are potential duds.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (shown above) was chosen to replace the Australian F/A-18 Hornet and F/A-18 Super Hornet multi-role fighters at a time when China was not seen as a significant possible military threat to Australia. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is what its name implies, namely, a fighter primarily designed to strike at ground and sea level targets.
The F-35 was initially and primarily designed to fit the requirement of the US Marine Corps for a VTOL* aircraft to replace its ageing Harrier VTOL ground attack aircraft. It was never conceived as being primarily an air-superiority fighter, so it cannot replace the capabilities of Australia’s Hornet fighters which are 4th generation air-superiority fighters. * VTOL = Vertical take-off and landing.
Former RAAF pilot Byron Bailey has made it very clear that the F-35 is a ground attack aircraft and seriously underpowered by comparison with 5th generation air-superiority fighters such as China’s Chengdu J-20 fighter, Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA 20, and America’s F-22 Raptor. Tthese air superiority fighters all have stealth capability.
The Americans are already recognising the serious limitations of the F-35 and are planning to pair them in air combat with the F-22 Raptor.
When so much of Australia’s defence budget has been allocated to purchase of the F-35 strike fighter, it appeared unlikely that Australia's defence chiefs would ever admit its limited capabilities in air combat. So it was refreshing to read in "The Australian" of 12 February 2021 that Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld has claimed that it would be "foolish" to increase Australia's existing order of seventy-two F-35 fighters arguing "(Australia) might be better off waiting for a next-generation capability".
Australian pilots will probably die because of the cowardice of politicians in refusing to acknowledge the limited capabilities of the F-35 in air combat.
The glaring reality is that any threat to Australia is likely to come from a country possessing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them on Australia’s cities by ballistic missiles. Australia has no defence against this deadly threat. In the unlikely event that Cambodia, Brunei, or Monaco declares war on Australia our underpowered F-35s and controversial French-designed makeshift diesel submarines might just manage to defend Australia.
"The Good Companions" - Scott "Hawaii" Morrison and Clown Prince of Bunglers "Chairman" Dan Andrews, Socialist Left Premier of Victoria - with apologies to J. B. Priestly
That basis for that question should be clearly apparent to anyone who knows what the Australian Constitution actually says about Commonwealth responsibilities. Victoria's Socialist Left premier "Chairman" Dan Andrews made an appalling mess of quarantining arrivals from overseas infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. Andrews employed untrained hotel and nightclub bouncers to "enforce" quarantine in selected hotels. In return for shopping excursions away from quarantine hotels, some women in those quarantine hotels appear to have rewarded bouncers with sexual favours, and so the coronavirus escaped into the community and at least 800 mostly elderly Victorians died from the coronavirus. Thousands were infected as a result of the culpable neglect by the Victorian government to take sensible steps to enforce quarantine. Elderly people in nursing homes and hospitals died without saying goodbye to loved ones. Victoria was locked down for six months. Thousands of businesses were closed; many would never reopen. An idiotic Andrews government rule even prevented husbands and wives shopping together for food and other necessaries. An equally ridiculous rule compelled masks to be worn in the open air as well as shops even if there was no risk of close contact. One woman who grew up in Communist East Germany under the constant scrutiny of the feared Secret Police (STASI), described life in Victoria under Premier Daniel Andrews in 2019 as worse than her life in Communist East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Daniel Andrews and his responsible ministers may yet have to answer for their culpable neglect of proper quarantine in the law courts.
As if determined to establish his credentials as Australia's premier buffoon, Daniel Andrews allows Aboriginal protesters and Leftist groups to march without masks in Melbourne streets with little interference from police but tells Victorians that he will not allow the traditional Anzac Day march in 2021 even if masks are worn. So at the middle of February 2021, people do not wear face masks while shopping in well-managed New South Wales while Victorian learn what socialism is really like under a bungling socialist premier like Andrews
But wait a minute! We appear to be blaming the incompetent Daniel Andrews for bungling a quarantine that was not his legal responsibility to enforce. Management of quarantine was delegated to him by Prime Minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison.
The responsibility for protecting Australia against diseases arriving from overseas is placed squarely on the Australian government by Section 51(ix) of the Australian Constitution which states that the Australian Parliament has responsibility for "Quarantine". That provision of the Australian Constitution effectively placed responsibility for protecting Australia against deadly imported viruses, including the Wuhan coronavirus, on the shoulders of Scott "Hawaii" Morrison. The Quarantine Act 1908 and the Biosecurity Act (2015), together with the Australian Border Force, provided Scott "Hawaii" Morrison with the powers and means to protect Australia against the deadly Wuhan coronavirus but he simply handballed that responsibility to the States and Territories without providing any form of effective oversight of how they managed and contained the spread of the virus.
Having abandoned his constitutional responsibility and power to protect Australia against a deadly imported virus, this weak and incompetent prime minister initiated the sick joke called a "National Cabinet" in March 2020 in response to the arrival in Australia of the Wuhan coronavirus. It is not a "cabinet" in any meaningful sense of that word. It abolished the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), and is itself nothing more than an intergovernmental forum which talks but produces nothing that binds any participant in the forum.
We need to be very clear that Scott "Hawaii" Morrison carries a heavy responsility for the deadly ravages produced in Australia in 2020 by the Wuhan coronavirus. Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan appears to be the first Australian premier to appreciate this fact and declare it to be so.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison
With the exception of very sensible New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian who is not included in this criticism, the bizarre so-called National Cabinet set up by Scott "Hawaii" Morrison as his acknowledgement to Federation in 1901 and primary answer to management and containment of the imported deadly Wuhan coronavirus appears to be comprised of obstructive, selfish, incompetent, utterly insensitive, and blindly parochial State premiers. Their appalling behaviours as Australia has suffered from the ravages of the Wuhan coronavirus beggars description. Even when coronavirus transmission is at very low levels, often only a handful across Australia on any given day, they close their States to Australians wanting to enter from other States and Territories. They undermined, and continue to undermine the Australian economy, inflicting enormous damage on commercial activity, and especially, their tourism industries. They thumb their noses at Federation. They thumb their noses at Section 92 of the Australian Constitution which requires freedom of movement between States and Territories for all Australians except when very grave situations justify restrictions. That very grave situation only occurred in Victoria throughout 2020 because of the incompetent handling of the Wuhan coronavirus by Premier Dan Andrews.
Our weak and incompetent Scott "Hawaii" Morrison sat back and did nothing to stop this human and economic sabotage from some State premiers. Instead of reading the riot act to these State premiers and reminding them of the terms of Section 92 of the Australian Constitution and the power of the Commonwealth to withhold taxpayer funding from recalcitrant States, he facilitated the undermining of Australia's economy by making Jobkeeper grants available to the most recalcitrant premiers who had no sound medical justifications for keeping their borders closed to Australians living in other States and Territories.
Something troubled me about these extraordinary behaviours of Scott "Hawaii" Morrison; and then I drew on the human psychology component of my postgraduate criminology studies at the Australian National University. Selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement and self-gratification regardless of the cost to other people, and a lack of empathy for the suffering and sacrifices of other people, are character traits often but not necessarily associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, commonly referred to by laypeople as narcissism. I am not for one moment suggesting that these very disturbing chacter traits mentioned here indicate clinical narcissism, but the apparent lack of concern that the prime minister has shown for the sacrifices of Australians in war, for the denigration of those sacrifices by management of the Australian War Memorial since 2012 , for the horrendous cost to Australia of the bushfires in 2019, and for the reckless harm he inflicted on Australia's trade with China, should be troubling for all Australians.
Scott "Hawaii" Morrison and Uluru Statement
Woke high priest Scott "Hawaii" Morrison (above) is leading a charge that threatens the livestyles and property ownership of the 97 percent of Australians who do not have Aboriginal ancestry by implementing the Uluru Statement (above).
Australian taxpayers already contribute over 30 billion dollars every year at Federal and State levels solely to support and enhance the well-being of Australian Aborigines. This massive sum is in addition to the welfare benefits that every Australian already enjoys, including Aborigines. Aboriginal Australians are now demanding massive financial compensation when the Uluru Statement is implemented. In an address to the Australian Catholic University on 24 February 2021, Northern Territory treaty commissioner Professor Michael Dodson (see image below) appeared to be making it very clear to the 97 percent of Australians who have no Aboriginal ancestry that the minimum figure of $30,000,000,000 already sourced from Australian taxpayers and allocated every year by Federal and State governments solely for the benefit of Australian Aborigines is not enough. British colonisation of Australia “injured and harmed” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies he said “and just recompense is owed” by the 97 percent of Australian taxpayers who lack any Aboriginal ancestry.
These outrageous claims raised in the Uluru Statement, and expanded and refined by Malcolm Turnbull's Referendum Council, rest for their success on the fostering of a sense of guilt in the 97 percent of Australians who lack Aboriginal ancestry for the displacement of Aborigines from their hunting grounds by peaceful British settlers landing at Sydney in 1788.
Why is this happening almost two hundred and fifty years after those British settlers landed peacefully on the shore of Port Jackson in 1788?
A large part of the answer appears to be the existence of an Aboriginal industry that employs thousands of Australians, many of them non-Aboriginal, and whose comfortable and well paid jobs depend upon maintaining Aboriginal disadvantage indefinitely. If we had a prime minister with any sense he would be calling on highly respected Aboriginal woman Jacinta Price (see image below) for answers to continuing Aboriginal disadvantage, and I suspect that she would tell him that one crucial answer would be ensuring that all Australian Aborigines who want education and paid work receive it, instead of allowing Aboriginal dependence on welfare to continue indefinitely. As a qualified criminologist, as well as a lawyer and historian, I can assert with confidence that paid work produces a tie to community and reduces crime and social problems. Welfare payments do not produce any such tie.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is deputy mayor of Alice Springs and a Warlpiri/Celtic woman.
Our weak excuse for a prime minister Scott "Hawaii" Morrison is dodging acknowledgment that these measures demanded in the Uluru Statement will hurt the 97 percent of Australians who lack Aboriginal ancestry.