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Polly Peck
6 August, 2006  
Capital Offences

Fabulous Phil says you could get 25 years for making “reckless” donations to Hezbollah … Fresh crop for the Federal Magistrates Court … Some nourishing insights into shadow AG Lillian Roxon

imageAustralians who donate to Hezbollah hospitals could be smacked with 25 years in the big house. Fabulous Phil Ruddock made it clear this morning (July 6) on the ABC’s Insiders that it was up to citizens to made “appropriate inquiries” before they gave money to anything connected to Hezbollah.

Phil went all multilateralist, telling host Barry “Loudshirt” Cassidy that funding Hezbollah was illegal under UN resolution 1373 as well as under domestic law.

Loudshirt pointed out that this was putting a hefty onus on the charitably minded, who had to make sure they were not being “reckless” when donating.

But Phil had no sympathy:

“We do that every day. The criminal law has a number of offences, which include the element of recklessness, where people have to make inquiries before they act.”

It was part of a wide-ranging chat with the talking automaton, where Bazza also pointed out that parliament was resuming this week but that over the winter break the heated discussion within the Coalition over offshore immigration processing seemed to have cooled.

It was time “to enable people to reflect”, explained Fabbo.

The high seas prison hulk that the government is organising is a new hot topic. Phil described it as “appropriate accommodation” where people can be held for “short periods”.

We know what Phil means by a “short period” but the idea, apparently, is that the floating prison will save the Navy trips back to shore with captured fishermen or other “illegals”. The senior service can then get on with its border patrol task with less interruption.

Fabulous One also pointed out that if there were complaints the Ombudsman and HREOC were still available to those processed offshore and “people ought not to be unaware that inquiries can take place and do”.

A prisoner exchange agreement with Indonesia should be signed next month, Phil added, although sadly for the nation’s tabloids it won’t help Schapelle Corby immediately since she has not exhausted all her appeal possibilities.

The amount of time to be served in the sentencing jurisdiction before a prisoner can apply to come back to Australia is still up in the air and the suggestions include half the sentence, or a month for each year of a sentence or a fixed tern of one or two years. It’s still to be nutted out.

Finally, Phil was left to explain Little Johnny’s decision to not allow a conscience on stem cell research amid backbench dissent.

“I’m a member of the cabinet and the cabinet has taken a decision, so, I support the cabinet decision,” Fabulous explained.

But what if the party room wanted a conscience vote as a starting point? asked Bazza.

Well, tough luck. As Phil said, the starting point has been decided for them.

* * *

Here come da boys – a new batch for the Federal Magistrates’ Court, just weeks after the odorous appointment of Kevvie Andrews’ junior office boy, John O’Sullivan – the Liberal Party pet with three years practising experience.

Fabulous Phil is particularly anxious that federal courts have a proper understanding of the meaning of the word “choice” in WorkChoices litigation. However, he’s been careful this time to avoid the tempest that accompanied the O’Sullivan stack.

The latest elevations to the FM bench are:

  • Toni Lucev, from Perth’s John Toohey Chambers, who’s practiced mainly in industrial relations and employment law. He was counsel assisting the government’s beloved royal commission into the building and construction industry from 2001-2002 and he’ll be Perth’s first Federal Magistrate.
  • John Morcombe, who’s been at the Adelaide Bar n’ Grill since 1995 and before that at the law shop Morcombe Townsend. He’s a commercial and family law sort of person. Morcombe faces feisty relations between the FMC and the Family Court in Adelaide, with the Fun Review reporting an FMC associate was shouted at for using “Family Court” tea bags and told to leave the judges’ tea room.
  • Keith Wilson, a Brisbane silk, who’s practiced widely in the civil sphere.

    The appointments take effect on August 14 followed by an intensive period of spinning around the block with trainer-wheels affixed.

    * * *

    Phil’s also been making appointments in his role as acting Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, while Kevvie took a break.

    Fabbo recently announced the government’s appointment of Bruce Williams, a West Australian business lobbyist, as a Commissioner of the Industrial Relations Commission.

    Williams has been an IR man with WA business for over 20 years, at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Industry. He’s even given a lovely presentation to the HR Nicholls Society about how rotten it is for employers to live with the Gallop government’s IR regime.

    Of course, with WorkChoices not being electoral magic dust, Phil was keen to emphasise that Williams has also represented employees.

    The way Brucey puts it is that there is a need to reduce the role of third parties (unions) and to take away constraints “on the ability of enterprises to respond quickly to ever changing circumstances”. Such a system would be in “the interests of all Australia”.

    We get the idea.

    * * *

    imageReally, what do we know of the alternate attorney general Lillian Roxon? What if something terrible happened to the Johnnie and Janette government? Kimbo Beazley then would be in with a chance and Lillian most likely would be the next AG.

    Some scraps of insight emerged from Melbourne radio – first on the ABC’s Jon Faine show:

    FAINE: Nicola (sic) Roxon, while I’ve got you on the line, Peter Garrett this morning is saying he’s a team player he’ll argue his position on uranium policy at the Labor Party conference. You’re from the left of the party, what do you think of Kim Beazley’s backflip?

    ROXON: I’m not from the left of the party actually, but you do seem to quite like introducing me as that. I’m from the right of the party.

    FAINE: I apologise.

    Then there’s commercial announcer Neil Mitchell, who regularly hosts Lillian and former Victorian opposition leader Robert Doyle in a sort of left-right-beat-their-heads-together debate, which he likes to promote as the Cold War all over again: “Two views, left and right, male and female, younger and older.”

    Mitchell wanted to chat about childhood obesity.

    DOYLE: “Yes in fact I was a fat kid and I don’t want anyone ringing in to say you’re still a fat adult, thank you very much. There was a slim period in the middle but yeah I was a little porker…”

    ROXON: “This might sound very old fashioned but really if people actually cooked at home more and knew more about cooking and preparing food …”

    MITCHELL: “Have you told Julia Gillard this? Whose stove has never been used?”

    Lillian said that many people hadn’t used their stoves but all parents should cook healthy tucker for their kiddies.

    MITCHELL: “What tofu burgers?”

    ROXON: “No, no all sorts of healthy things – you don’t have to go to bean curd to be healthy.”

    Darren, a caller, said his boys had been supplied with masses of fundraising chocolates at a government school.

    Doyle was “worried about banning things ... because of the increased attraction”.

    As a Geelong Grammar border Porky Doyle said: “I remember as a 12-year old sitting up tree smoking cigarettes because I wasn’t allowed to.”

    ROXON: “Embarrassingly my father was a microbiologist and was obsessed with food colouring when we were growing up and Twisties was the worst thing … ”

    MITCHELL: “Oh it still is isn’t it? ...”

    ROXON: “I swear for about five years that was the only thing that I really wanted to eat because it was the one that we were most not allowed to. But I have kicked that habit.”

    That’s what an ALP knees-up is like these days. Big Kimbo hugging a tub of KFC and Lillian circling the bowl of Twisties trying to keep her cravings in check.

    At least we’ll know if she ever succumbs to the addiction – there’s that tell-tale yellow stain on the paws and a cheesy aroma that clings to the skin.

    * * *

    imageI see that naughty ACT ruler Jon Stanhope has come up with a new way to annoy Phil Ruddock. He’s proposed Terry Hicks, Dad of Guantanamo’s David, as Father of the Year.

    Stanners said that Terry had displayed the finest and noblest qualities of parenthood over the past four years.

    ”[He’s] stuck by his son, advocating for the justice that continues to elude David, and doing so with graciousness and an exemplary lack of rancour”.

    The Canberra Times said:

    “This political raspberry has been met with stony silence by the Howard government.”

    However, up-piped Howard claqueur Miranda Devine in The Sun-Herald to say Stanhope’s idea is bad. “Judging by the end product, his fathering skills left something to be desired,” said the perfect Mum.


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