34424Re: "Howard's land policies like Hitler's"
- Oct 5, 2006By Bob Gould
A certain amount of common sense has broken out, happily, in the
discussion of the event surrounding the coroner's report on the death
on Palm Island.
Greg Adler's pretty well-informed lawyer's angle seems to be
reasonable, and even Ratbag Radio Riley has been forced to calm down
and discuss the events in more or less, for him, rational political
terms, having got the initial crazed abuse of me off his chest.
Riley gives a reasonably rational account of the efforts of Sam Watson
and other Brisbane Murris who support the demands of the Palm Island
I support the demands of the Palm Island community, and if the local
Labor member of parliament, who it must be noted, depends on a large
vote on Palm Island, wants quicker action by Beattie, I support that too.
Serious readers will note that the Palm Island community, the local
Labor MP and Sam Watson don't appear to be using the DSP's crazy
rhetoric about scabs. What they are doing is trying to influence the
outcome of the process by presenting demands and agitating, and in
general I support that agitation.
Sam Watson, for example, told the World Today: The way in which the
coroner "administered the inquest and the courtesy and professionalism
that she showed to witnesses and people involved and the findings that
she handed down yesterday has absolutely restored the faith and
confidence that Aboriginal people had in justice system".
"Aboriginal people now on Palm Island and across Queensland now really
do feel they can take their complaints to the judicial system and they
can receive real redress, and at the end of the day, real justice. And
that is a massive step forward for reconciliation right across the
state and right across the nation."
Perhaps that's putting too much faith in the Queensland justice
system, but it's a world away from the Dixon-Riley rhetoric about
scabs, and it is an attempt to influence the political process in an
entirely sensible way.
On balance I'm convinced by Adler's general point that, properly
handled, removal of the copper probably wouldn't prejudice the legal
case. I do have one misgiving, however, which I don't lay down as a
matter of holy writ, and that concerns the general principle of due
Many years ago I was entirely convinced, and I haven't changed my
view, that jury trials were one of the great conquests of the struggle
for democracy in English-speaking countries, and that socialists
should defend and protect jury trials and due process.
The political point is that summary justice by magistrates, judges and
politicians, tends to enforce the interests of the ruling class of the
day, whereas juries of ordinary people, usually end up deciding on the
balance of probabilities, and often are influenced by class factors.
A striking current example of the difference between juries and
summary justice is the courageous decision of an ordinary Scottish
jury in favour of Tommy Sheridan versus News Limited. That jury
managed to work out who they thought was telling more of the truth.
Even in the Palm Island case, due process, liberty of the subject, the
presumption of innocence and the right to a jury trial are part of the
scenario. On balance, it's in the interests of us all that even a
copper in this situation should not have his rights abrogated, despite
the fact that, as we know, indigenous people routinely have their
rights abrogated in many ways.
Summary justice benefits the ruling class, ultimately. Look at
Guantanamo Bay and Bush's vile military tribunals, so-called.
Having said all that, this Greg Adler's summary of the likely legal
situation is sufficient for the moment, and I don't claim anything
like his detailed legal knowledge.
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