The Attorney General leaking against his own DPP is the pits. No savoir faire there. It’s Pit Bull revenge.
That the AG John Hatzistergos and the DPP Nicholas Cowdery can’t abide each other is not the issue.
Public confidence in the DPP and the prosecution service is sacrificed in the AG’s enthusiasm to deliver the crummiest of hits.
The story that appeared in The Sun-Herald on August 23 quoted Hatzistergos mustering all his faux outrage over the attendance of 20 or so of the DPP’s people at the Australian Association of Crown Prosecutors conference in Brisbane from July 8-10.
Lisa Carty, the paper’s political writer, claimed that this cost the taxpayers $110,000.
The expense, apparently, was incurred two weeks before Cowdery said he couldn’t afford to send prosecutors for cases listed for trial in the Hunter and New England.
The figure of $110,000 for 20 prosecutors smells of rubber – i.e. $5,500 for each for two days?
The Sun-Herald story was a comprehensive bucket job on the DPP and his office – delivered courtesy of the NSW Attorney General.
The snarkiest elements of the spray were:
* Cowdery is not capable of managing his budget and his staff.
* An “urgent inquiry” has been ordered into the office of the DPP.
* The AG is “outraged”.
* Under Cowdery the value of recoveries from proceeds of crime has fallen.
* Cowdery should run important prosecutions himself.
* Leave arrangements at the ODPP might have to be changed to ensure courts were covered.
That’s enough to go on with.
The prosecutors’ conference was far from a useless doddle. Of course, the “drinks, cocktail reception and gala dinner” were highlighted in Carty’s slavish report.
But there were a number of entirely worthwhile activities over the two days – investigation techniques in tracking online sexual predators, a controlled experiment with fire giving insight into arson, an examination of the processes involved in autopsies and the firing of weapons from pistols to light machine guns.
Chief Justice Daphnis de Jersey gave a talk to the attendees in which he said:
“I applaud the practical orientation of the conference. You will actually get a lot out of these sessions, massively more, I suggest with great respect, than from even the most carefully presented dissection of the modern law on propensity evidence or joint criminal responsibility.”
Compared to the slothfulness and junketeering of politicians this conference was a veritable work-bee.
The leaking against the DPP has been going on for a long time.
Hatzistergos (snap) came to the Attorney General’s job after the election of March 2007. By June he was leaking anti-Cowdery stuff to The Smellograph.
On June 1 that year the paper had a screamer: “DPP DISGRACE – Cost-cutting plan to dump drug and child sex cases”.
The story was from the same reporter who was drip fed leaks in September 2006 aimed at discrediting the then deputy DPP Greg Smith over the Patrick Power affair.
Smith was then and is now the Liberal shadow AG.
The Smello’s story was a hand-fed beat-up and ignored the fact that the government had dragged the chain on implementing backroom cost savings that had been recommended by the Council on the Costs and Quality of Government.
Maybe it was payback because before the election Cowdery had described the Labor Party’s 10-year plan to rebuild the public sector as “ludicrous” – which is precisely what it has turned out to be.
The DPP also said that the administration of justice in NSW is “more concerned about police and prisons; it doesn’t care about the process in between”.
More recently Cowdery published a well-reasoned piece critiquing the NSW government’s anti-bikie, or anti-gangs, law.
One of its most objectionable elements is that the AG has the power to stack the hearing of applications for declarations with judges he has culled.
Hatzistergos’ leaden temperament never seems more enlivened than when he’s stumping against a Bill of Rights. The sight of a NSW Labor AG telling all and sundry that their rights are sufficiently protected by politicians would be quite amusing were it not so dreadfully depressing.
Cowdery, on the other hand, is a Bill of Rights supporter.
It is evident this morning (Thursday, Aug. 27) that a truce has broken out between the DPP and The Smello.
The paper is giving Hatzistergos a huge biff under the headline, Vigilante threat as court cash dries up.
According to this rather excitable account there is a “critical shortage of prosecutors” and “frustrated victims” might take the law into their own hands.
The District Court is about “to buckle under the work load” and more prosecutors are desperately needed.
Well, the AG brought this on himself.
The sniping will go on – but Hatzistergos won’t succeed in driving out this DPP.
He’ll only succeed in diminishing his own rather uninspiring standing.