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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Slipper’

More #Ashby #mediafail: Joan Evatt on the appeal

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on May 13, 2013 at 6:02 PM
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honourable Justice James Spigelman, second right,Source: The Daily Telegraph

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honourable Justice James Spigelman, second right,Source: The Daily Telegraph

By Joan Evatt
@NoFibs legal writer

May 13, 2013

The last time I entered a courtroom, nearly 28 years ago, I was so heavily pregnant I waddled rather than walked. I was a character witness for a work colleague discovered driving without a licence.  On that occasion I exchanged heated words with the Prosecutor, a pompous prat with a Jimmy Edwards handlebar moustache, much to the amusement of the judge and a bunch of law undergraduates. With my last name it is always difficult to have anything to do with the law, as assumptions will be made. So it was with a certain concern mixed with caution when I decided to follow the Ashby v Slipper appeal.

I have long been frustrated by the quality of the dailies’ coverage of legal matters. My frustration was underscored by the media’s serious misunderstanding of issues and decisions at the directions hearing before Emmett J.  I decided to do that ‘mother’ thing.  You know: ‘If you can’t get somebody to do it right, go do it yourself and stop complaining.’

Throughout the recent hearing dates in the Ashby v Slipper appeal certain key matters constantly gnawed at my gizzards. I wanted to vent because I believe them to be of critical importance.

One was the mainstream media’s coverage of this case, which, if it is indicative of how they cover most cases, means we’re in trouble. (See here and here)

The media’s incompetence raised two critical issues, which are fundamental to law and the practice of law in this country, and more importantly, the effectiveness of the administration of justice.

Unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t the only one doing handstands on Wednesday trying to get my hands on the written submissions of the three parties; Harmer, Ashby and Slipper. The written submissions outline the key areas that each of the three lawyers would talk to during the two days of hearing.  To not be able to read written submission at the very least means you are walking cold into a case and will find it impossibly difficult to follow.

On Thursday – day one of the hearing – I discovered David Marr who was without written submissions as well. He toddled downstairs to the Registry while I went to work on the legal representatives to see if I could acquire the submissions for perusal. To give all parties their due they had no problem with sending and giving us their submissions. For that I’m very grateful to Michael Lee SC (Ashby’s barrister), Anthony McClellan, from AMC MEDIA –  (the well known Public Relations firm working for both Mr Ashby and Mr Harmer) – and to Peter Slipper’s barrister Mr Ian Neil who gave us the submissions immediately.  It wasn’t until the next day that their Honours let it be known that written submission would be placed online for our access.

The judiciary and the legal fraternity cannot have it both ways when it comes to being critical of the quality of mainstream media coverage of the courts. Just as judges and lawyers have to do their homework before going into court to either hear or present a case, so does the media.  For journalists to cover a case cold does the parties and the system a disservice. Is it any wonder then that the reports written by journalists with difficult deadlines become more error-prone? A journalist’s role is a critical one to a justice system where open justice prevails.

There are three principles that form part of the justice foundation stone that underpins any functioning democratic society. The first is the independence of the judiciary from interference, and especially political interference, known under the banner headline as the separation of powers; a principle enshrined in our constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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#Ashby appeal: Slipper’s turn

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on May 3, 2013 at 11:48 PM

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By Joan Evatt

May 3, 2013

It was Peter Slipper’s turn today in Day 2 of the Ashby v Slipper Appeal. Slipper was represented by well-known Sydney silk, Ian Neil SC. He had to wait for twenty minutes or so while Michael Lee SC endeavoured to add further to his submissions from yesterday.

The issues Lee wanted to expand on were questions about the urgency of Ashby’s application preventing Ashby and his representatives from pursuing all alternative remedies available to him on the sexual harassment issue.

Lee also raised the question of whether there was evidence given on what was in the mind of Michael Harmer on the question of ‘genuine steps.’

He got short shrift from Justice Siopis. As Mr Lee had a right of reply following Ian Neil’s submissions it may have been more circumspect to wait until then to raise these issues.

It is the role of Mr Neil SC to argue that the decision of Justice Rares is correct and should stand. He outlined in order nine subject headings raised in the written submissions of Ashby and Harmer he wanted to address.

“The best laid plans of mice and men …” on paper this would have looked neat and logical. In reality their Honours were feisty and challenging. For most of the remainder of the morning Neil’s oral submissions were punctuated with rugged questioning as we bounced from issue to issue making it increasingly difficult for those few from the media and the general public present to follow with any confidence.

At no stage did Mr Neil show any impatience with or discomfiture by this morning’s proceedings. It is worth noting that he didn’t wilt under the pressure either, but continued to argue the merits of his case.

Neil started his oral submission considering the questions of procedural fairness as raised in the Ashby submission. In his decision Rares J is satisfied Slipper established that Mr Ashby had combined with one or more of the persons named as part of the conspiracy that would result in his finding ‘an abuse of the process’.

Justice Gilmour asked whether it only related to Mr Harmer. Mr Neil’s answer took the court down a grammatical path. A definitive “No Your Honour” was his response. The relevant paragraph in Rares’s decision ‘has to relate conjunctively/disjunctively with each, some or all of the persons named… It’s inelegant English but it’s not bad syntax and its meaning is clear.’ His Honour didn’t continue asking questions about sentence structure.

The grammar lesson set the tone of the rest of the morning’s hearings. Read the rest of this entry »

#Ashby appeal, Day 1

In Ashby Conspiracy, Joan Evatt on May 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM
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James Ashby, flanked by his parents and his lawyer Michael Harmer at the NSW Supreme court for their appeal application. Photo: Kate Geraghty, Fairfax

By Joan Evatt

May 3, 2013

With the exception of Michael Harmer all the key players were there for the media to take quick photos and 15-second video grabs. Peter Slipper and James Ashby are starting to look a little frayed around the edges as they prepare to endure yet another round in this legal saga.

Yesterday was the first day of a two-day hearing by the Full Court of the Federal Court. Justices Mansfield, Siopis and Gilmour are concurrently hearing both the application for leave to appeal along with the more substantive issues of the appeal itself.

Justice Mansfield tipped the wink to the parties’ representatives as to how much time the court thought should be allocated to each of the lawyers. For Michael Lee SC, Mr Ashby’s counsel and the first legal cab off the rank, this was always going to be difficult. His job is to plough the field for the first time with no real indication of the legal hoops he may have to jump through when they are presented to him by any one of the justices presiding.

Lee’s argument is that Rares J. made three fundamental errors resulting in Ashby not being able to present his case in full and therefore ‘be determined on its merits.’ He put forward the view that Ashby had not received procedural fairness.

Lee argued that the finding of an abuse of process by Rares J was
flawed as the seriousness of that finding required an onus that was a ‘heavy one’. Rares J needed to be ‘cautious’ in his consideration of this issue and, according to Mr Lee, Justice Rares wasn’t.

Mr Lee further argued that Justice Rares adopted an ‘impressionistic view’ about Mr Ashby’s involvement in a conspiracy to harm Mr Slipper with inferences being drawn that compromised the fact finding process.

The third error in the Rares decision, according to Mr Lee, involved the conduct of Mr Ashby’s solicitor, Mr Harmer. This was dealt with comparatively briefly as Mr Harmer, now a party to the appeal, is being separately represented by counsel, David Pritchard SC.

Lee SC also raised concerns about Justice Rares’s rejection of unchallenged evidence. Mr Slipper was representing himself at the time Michael Harmer gave evidence and didn’t subject Harmer’s evidence to any cross-examination. Read the rest of this entry »

Can the cross bench deliver citizens accountability from newspapers?

In Margo Kingston, Media Reform on March 27, 2013 at 6:57 PM
Daily Telegraph Front Page 19 March 2013

Daily Telegraph Front Page 19 March 2013

By Margo Kingston,
March 27,  2013

What a predicament. All seven cross benchers and the Government are dissatisfied with the standards of newspapers and want citizens to be protected against their abuse of their power. Julian Disney, who heads the Press Council which administers self-regulation, believes there are ‘substantial problems with media standards in Australia’.

Yet nothing will be done.

Let’s quickly address the blame game. The area is highly dangerous for any government, which is why newspapers have escaped any regulation for so long (see the Finkelstein report on the tortured history of journalists‘ fight to get even limited self regulation).

The government has dithered due to splits in cabinet, leaks to Murdoch papers (presumably from Rudd supporters) and fears of retribution by newspapers clearly barracking for the opposition.

So Gillard and Conroy rammed through Cabinet a set of reforms they believed were weak enough to pass muster with the proprietors and sought to blackmail the cross bench into saying yes or getting nothing.

The plan blew up in their faces. Murdoch media led an overblown and vicious campaign against the reforms. The cross bench was unhappy with the detail and the minimalist nature of the blueprint and refused to meet the deadline. Gillard and Conroy said it’s over, let’s move on.

So the government does lose-lose, angering proprietors with no result. The Opposition makes it clear it will not countenance any strengthening of self-regulation, keeping it onside with the Murdoch media. The chance is lost.

The real losers are the people and good journos who need to be empowered by some accountability for bad journos. As Julian Disney said so eloquently at the Senate inquiry, ‘Absolute freedoms attack freedom’.

Newspapers get protection for journalist’s sources and exemption from the Privacy Act with no obligations in return. And evidence to the Senate inquiry showed that News Limited and Seven owner Kerry Stokes believe there is no public interest in what newspapers separate from self-interest.

Disney articulated the public interest – freedom of expression – and gave evidence that the media standards problem was so significant that newspapers actually impeded the free expression of citizens.

This occurred through distortion, suppression of key facts and opinions, factual errors and invasion of privacy. (The worst example of factual error during the media reform debate was when two senior news limited journalists doctored a quote to falsely accuse Senator Conroy of doctoring a quote.) Read the rest of this entry »

Did Mr Pyne stay or leave the room?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Jane Cattermole, Margo Kingston, Tony The Geek on February 3, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Mr Pyne doorstop Adelaide February 3, 2013
Today the Prime Minister has serious questions to answer about how she intends to govern for the next seven months with what is clearly an unravelling government. The Prime Minister needs to confirm whether by elections will be held in the normal course of events, say within two to three months of a resignation and not held off til September in order to keep the Prime Minister’s tenuous hold on power in place. We know that we’ve had the resignations of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans. We know that Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson are under a legal cloud. Robert McClennand has announced his retirement and has said he’ll be applying for jobs that will take him out of the parliament. There are rumours of other Labor MP’s and frontbenchers to follow and the Prime Minister is leaving very vague whether she will pursue the normal course of events which is by elections within one, two or at most three months of  resignations or whether she’ll hold those off until September 14th election date. That’s not good enough for the Australian public.

This government is starting to resemble a scene from “Downfall” and  the Prime  Minister is presiding over a divided and dysfunctional government.
The Coalition on the other hand has a plan for all for a safe, secure Australia and a strong and prosperous Australia.

We want the government to get it’s act together because if this wasn’t so serious it would be funny. 

Did Mr Pyne stay or leave the room?

Cinderella, Sunshine Coast Style

In Ashby Conspiracy on February 1, 2013 at 6:57 PM
  1. This is a story about the struggle to become one of the elite by doing their dirty deeds, collecting damaging information to hold power and getting rich along the way.  The moral of the story is : there are none, no morals that is. The lesson is: If you are not one, an elite, you will never be one. Better people have tried.The players: 1. Peter Slipper, long term initially National, then Lib federal MP in the seat of Fisher on the Sunshine Coast, QLD.
  2. @geeksrulz v strong hunger for money. See spending patterns. Taxpayers should not be happy with this MP.
  3. Player 2. James Ashby, one time radio announcer with attitude, strawberry farm PR, Slipper PR staffer, political grub.
  4. @marxdeane strawberry farm connection is intriguing. Just haven’t worked it out yet.
  5. Gowinta Strawberry Farm in liquidation and on the market as one business or 11 properties: http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/11/27/550825_property.html
  6. @sloughly @independentaus Just for good measure, the farm now with caravan park ripe for rezoning to res ie Big Bucks: news.com.au/national/sunshi…
  7. Player 3. Mark McArdle, longtime State Lib, now LNP member for Caloundra, wife was employed and ‘let go’ by Slipper. Evidently a different faction, perhaps different interests. Maybe lack of trust.
  8. @sloughly @independentaus And guess who has history in ‘losing’ investors money: laborview.blogspot.com.au/2…. BTW Slippers wifes family are in R/E.
  9. Player 5. Bronwyn Bishop, longtime Federal Lib MP At a fundraising event at the strawberry farm in better days. Spruiking to the old folks about that nasty carbon tax.  It’s not over til the fat lady sings, as they say. 

The Ashbygate conspiracy — of silence

In Ashby Conspiracy, Margo Kingston on January 21, 2013 at 12:02 AM

By Margo Kingston
Source: Independent Australia
18th January 2013

The media spent eight months vilifying Peter Slipper over the James Ashby accusations, but when the Federal Court ruled it was a political set-up — suddenly they weren’t interested. Margo Kingston comments on the scandal behind the conspiracy.

Geekrulz Storify

Click on the image to see @geeksrulz‘s Storify: ‘The Daily Telegraph coverage of the Slipper Scandal’

ON THE 12th of December 2012, the Federal Court handed down its judgement in James Ashby’s sexual harassment case against the Speaker Peter Slipper. It was sensational — a political conspiracy to abuse the court system with vexatious litigation to destroy a political opponent.

The mind boggled.

I’d just joined Twitter, and was surprised to get a tweet predicting there would be little coverage.

Nonsense, I replied. There’ll be intensive investigation by journos — ‘they will go for it after being conned by Libs twice’. The first time, of course, was the just completed torrent of publicity on the Prime Minister’s pre-politics role in setting up a fund later used for fraud, which ended with nothing of substance proved.

I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Jane Cattermole asks: Why a different rule for Peter Slipper?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Jane Cattermole on January 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

By Jane Cattermole
15th January 2013

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Peter Slipper, for the latter part of his parliamentary career was much maligned and ridiculed by colleagues and members of the media alike. He was called a “turncoat”, a “rat”, ”Slippery” and was portrayed as “King Rat” on the front of a News Ltd tabloid complete with a digitally altered image of him with whiskers and a rat’s tail, and mockingly, dressed in a wig and gown.

Despite the relentless gossip about his private life and the constant trashing of his reputation he took to high office impressively and most would agree that he was an exemplary Speaker. He showed fear and favour to no one, he ejected senior politicians from the House and told the PM on more than one occasion to confine herself to questions of relevance.

It’s a matter of history now that Slipper was accused of sexual harassment by James Ashby and that the titillating details of their private text messages were splashed all over the daily newspapers. They were talked about ad nauseam on commercial TV, radio, SKY News and our ABC alike. Tony Abbott was so sure of its implications for the Speaker and government that within hours of charges being laid he was announcing that it was untenable that an MP facing such serious allegations should hold such a senior position in the parliament. Not content to let the court do its job he was relentlessly pursued by the Coalition who moved to have him removed as Speaker. He survived the vote in the House but with his reputation in tatters, and his political career in ruins he resigned in tears. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the “Minchin Protocol” that was denied to Mr Peter Slipper?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Margo Kingston, Telecard Affair, Tony The Geek on January 11, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Matty Horan – A former Press Gallery gun specialising in political rorts.

Matty Horan explained on Twitter:

and

— Matt Horan (@mattyhoran) January 11, 2013

Former Senator Nick Minchin was forced to repay $3,150 in travel allowances after admitting he breached a parliamentary convention during the election campaign in 1996.

The convention says that ministers and shadow ministers are not allowed to claim travel allowance after their party leader’s policy speech until the election.

Here are the press stories at the time:

Minchin kept in cheque – The Daily Telegraph

SAT 15 March 1997, Page 9

THE Prime Minister’s Parliamentary secretary Nick Minchin wrote a cheque for $3150 yesterday to refund money he wrongly claimed during the last election. Read the rest of this entry »

We buy your papers, so give us a little respect! Where is the #Ashbygate judgment coverage?

In Ashby Conspiracy, Noely Neate on January 8, 2013 at 3:52 AM

By Noely Neate
Source: YaThink
Date: December 13th, 2012

Screenshot | 10 October 2012 | Sunshine Coast Daily | Readers, Brough say it’s time for Slipper to quit politics | Caption: “KEEN VIEWER: Mal Brough watches from the Daily’s news room as Peter Slipper resigns.” |

Regional areas rely on National media to ensure that we get a very full picture of what is happening in the Nation and the World.  Living in a regional area can be great, more relaxed lifestyle, awesome place to bring up a family etc., the flipside is that you are limited in choices and it can be easy to become a big fish in a little pond.  If the power being wielded is good, than that is not a problem, unfortunately when you’re the local newspaper and the big fish too long it can be detrimental.  Obviously there are area specific issues when you are the only show in town, you can’t go too hard on say Council or sitting MP’s as they may not talk to you at all or give you no access which means you have nothing to report?  On the other hand it can also mean that when you ‘go after someone’, there is no-one else to in the region to give an opposite view, this is what is happening on the Sunshine Coast at the moment.

Our local paper has been onto Peter Slipper for years.  Invested time and money into Travel rorts and the like.  At some stages it has been almost fanatical.  As Peter Brent in the Australian commented in his article “We can all dream” on the 19th of December “But Slipper is no ordinary sitting MP. He has a negative personal vote. Between the 2007and 2010 election his local rag the Sunshine Coast Daily went after him about entitlement transgressions. They went hard, and they were effective.”  This is very true, look at “Topic: peter slipper” in the Sunshine Coast Daily and you will see how long and hard they have been chasing Peter Slipper.  Even though the man has not been convicted of any wrong-doing the average local now thinks he is the biggest crook in the state? Read the rest of this entry »