Hey, aren’t we forgetting something?

15 Nov

I almost regret saying the other day: “It seems too that NSW Labor HQ could do with a seminar or two on the subject, or on ethics at least.” That should read, “Quite a few people in the NSW Parliament and in the media…”

I am not going to go into detail on the Orkopoulos affair and the subsequent accusations, including the ones about the links between certain development projects and politicians, which is more what I had in mind. It worries me, and I see from the ABC News just now it worries a law professor at UNSW and former Victorian (Liberal Party) Premier Jeff Kennett as well, that “charged with” and “accused of” are being treated as equivalent to “tried for” and “found guilty of.” They are not equivalents, and that concept is foundational in our legal system.

Very dangerous ground.

The attempted suicide of Mr Orkopoulos gives rise to another matter.

tapirIn the Cricket world we are having a few careless things said about anxiety and depression. Again Jeff Kennett makes some apt comments.I have had close, even first-hand, experience of all three, anxiety, depression, and suicide (the last not personally, though I did have such thoughts at one time). I have battled anxiety disorders for years, with varying severity. On two occasions at least this has been very disabling. I still have my limits. My “Fiction” page on the tab at the top of the page tells you much about this. Observant people will have noticed a link under “Cultural and other” to tAPir, the Anxiety and Panic Internet Resource, and with Jeff Kennett I also commend Beyond Blue.

We all need to pull our heads in sometimes.

Next day

Comment so far has focussed on the first part of this post rather than the second. That’s a shame really.

On another aspect of the first part, the Sydney Morning Herald this morning leads with Politics of sleaze and smears; while I concur with that story, I can’t help feeling the Herald is being just a bit po-faced and hypocritical. What do you think?

See also Iemma ‘acted disgracefully’ against Orkopoulos from ABC: “High-profile lawyer Stuart Littlemore QC says politicians and journalists have treated former New South Wales minister Milton Orkopoulos disgracefully… Mr Littlemore says the media has also treated Orkopoulos unfairly…”

The Sydney Morning Herald has led much of the coverage and its editor, Alan Oakley, has no regrets.

“The courts will deal with the issue of the charges but we’ve concentrated our efforts around the issues of was there any sort of cover-up, and if there was, who was involved?” he said. “And I think that there is enormous public interest in that and we wouldn’t be doing a job if we weren’t pursuing that part of the story.”

He denies claims by Orkopoulos’ family that his newspaper’s journalists and photographers have hounded the former minister.

“It is obviously a very, very difficult time for Mr Orkopoulos and his family, but again, I think there is enormous public interest – he is a state minister, he was a state minister. He’s now resigned, of course. Again, I don’t think we’d be doing our job unless we were bringing this story to our readers.”

Perhaps it is time to watch Frontline again.

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12 responses to “Hey, aren’t we forgetting something?

  1. ninglun

    November 17, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    All the legal types are so concerned about the accused, yet little has been written about the victims.

    No, they don’t want the rules of contempt that could protect any one of us weakened, and they don’t want Google and the media to be the way crimes are tried in NSW.

    …it looks very much like a pattern, indicating a systematic network of offenders.

    This is pure speculation, and as such may be true, or may not be.

    For anyone who is a victim of child abuse, or has been, remembering the bulk actually happens within families and not through a systematic network of offenders, go to:

    ASCA (Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse).
    Kids Help Line.
    Child Abuse Prevention Service NSW

    Interesting also is Sentencing Offenders Convicted of Child Sexual Assault from the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.

    Release date: 21 October 2004 embargoed until 23 October 2004

    Offenders who commit child sexual assault offences today can anticipate being dealt with more severely by the sentencing courts than in the past according to a new study released by the Judicial Commission of NSW.

    The study analyses the sentences handed down to 467 offenders convicted of child sexual assault in the NSW District Court between 2000–2002. It also analyses conviction and sentence appeals for child sexual assault between 2000–2003.

    Key findings include:

    * the overwhelming majority of victims were female (73%) and all but 2 offenders were male
    * the principal offence in 60% of cases concerned sexual intercourse/penetration, 37% involved indecent assault and only 3% involved an act of indecency
    * the seriousness of the offence had a clear impact on the severity of sentence — sexual intercourse/penetration offenders were significantly more likely to be given a full-time custodial sentence
    * 38% of offenders were sentenced more than 10 years after the offence was committed
    * 29% of offenders were sentenced more than 15 years after the offence was committed
    * 79% of offenders who were convicted pleaded guilty
    * 2 out of 3 convicted offenders received full-time custodial sentences
    * the median term of imprisonment for sexual intercourse/penetration was 4 years, with a range of 9 months to 15 years.

    This large study reveals that there is often a lengthy delay between the commission of the offence, and the conviction and sentencing of offenders. For that reason, it is often difficult to sustain convictions. However, examining the sentences of those offenders who were convicted indicates that heavy sentences are imposed for the more serious categories of sexual assault.

    And finally, on the contempt issue see Report 100 (2003) – Contempt by publicaton from the New South Wales Law Reform Commission.

  2. ninglun

    November 17, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Closing further comment on this post.

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