Some years ago, a leading lawyer warned that public confidence in the courts was being eroded. There was a growing perception, he said, that the criminal justice system was mainly concerned about the protection of the rights of the accused. The legal fraternity was outraged. Celebrity criminal lawyers complained to those who discipline the legal profession. For years the lawyer was denied promotion as a “silk”- an SC or QC.
The situation is even worse today. Our criminal justice system is certainly gold-plated, but not for the victims or their families. We see examples every day. Jill Meagher’s murderer, whose record of prior convictions included a string of violent rapes and assaults, was allowed to walk the streets. The murder charge against Thomas Kelly’s killer, who was on a violent spree in King’s Cross, was dropped. He was allowed to plead guilty to a manslaughter charge.
What is going on? The criminal justice system is administered by prosecutors, magistrates and judges. It is all very well complaining about them, but it’s clear that those ultimately responsible – the politicians – have let this happen. They are out of touch with the community.
Australians could be forgiven for believing that a succession of governments, state and federal, has adopted the following 10-point plan to empower the criminal classes. This has of course not been their intention. But the cumulative effect of the following policies has been to achieve precisely this – to empower the criminal classes.
The Australian people would not have adopted any of these policies had they been asked – they have far too much common sense. Not one would pass the “pub test”.
1. Tolerate petty crime. This can be achieved by abolishing, for example, summary offences. As crime increases, people will soon realise that it is pointless to report many burglaries and assaults. This has one advantage – it does wonders for the statistics.
2. Undermine the family and create welfare dependency. This ensures there is a significant number of healthy and able taxpayer young men and women with nothing to do.
3. Introduce discriminatory policing. Especially avoid confrontations with youth from certain ethnic communities.
4. Make serious policing difficult or impossible. Make police selection politically correct by reducing standards and tie them up with paperwork. Also make them subject to complaints to various politically correct bureaucracies, thus subjecting them to endless internal and external enquiries.
5. Undermine both the jury and trial judges. Lessen their role, and especially keep them in the dark. Subject trial judges to minuscule controls on their ability to instruct the jury or their discretion on sentencing, and encourage taxpayer funded appeals even on the most technical matters.
6. Always show more concern for the accused and less concern for the victim. Make trials longer and more technical, concentrating inordinately on whether evidence should be seen or heard by the jury who, being ordinary Australians, are assumed to be of limited intelligence and understanding. Also, increase possible defences and ways to avoid or diminish responsibility..
7. Lower or remove quality controls on immigration by, for example, abdicating control over the borders, reducing security checks and by outsourcing immigration administration to people smugglers.
8. Remove discipline from the schools and in its place insist on the self esteem of all students being the dominant consideration.
9. Arm the criminals by abandoning serious control of the borders and allowing an influx of weapons.
10. Make criminals understand punishment will be light, even if the sentence is upheld on the inevitable appeal. Above all, denounce zero tolerance and mandatory sentencing, keep juries in the darkignorant of previous offences, and encourage generous parole.
Is this too harsh on the politicians? Not at all. They have the whip hand . They have either created all of these problems or they haven’t corrected them.
The solution is to empower the people and make the politicians accountable. Not just in blank cheque elections every few years. Let’s make them accountable on every day, of every week, of every month, and of every year.
Just as you are, dear reader.
David Flint’s latest book, written with Jai Martinlovits, Give Us Back Our Country, comes out next month