Thursday, April 13, 2017
WA Court of Appeal overturns conviction of Aboriginal man for manslaughter of Josh Warneke
The W.A. police are a pretty rough lot at the best of times so when it comes to Aborigines they are severely lacking in their approach. They seem not to know that under any sort of pressure at all Aborigines will say whatever you want them to say. Interviewing them requires a special technique if you are to get at the truth
JOSH Warneke's mother says the decision to overturn the conviction of the man who had been jailed for killing her son was one of the most "profound moments" of her life after WA’s highest court ruled he had suffered a miscarriage of justice.
Gene Gibson, a 25-year-old illiterate Aboriginal man, had been serving seven-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of Mr Warneke, who was found beaten to death on a Broome highway in 2010.
That sentence was handed down after Gibson pleaded guilty to manslaughter, after a murder charge was dropped following a WA Supreme Court judge finding serious flaws in the police investigation.
Even then however, serious doubts lingered over Gibson’s guilt - including from Mr Warneke’s mother, Ingrid Bishop.
Last week, during a hearing at WA’s Court of Appeal, some of WA’s leading lawyers – acting without pay for the Pintupi man – argued that Gibson’s own confession should be deemed unsafe.
They said his plea was induced by “false or materially unreliable evidence”, and Gibson’s “cognitive defects” and language difficulties “significantly compromised” his ability to understand what was happening to him after he was arrested, charged and remanded.
The three judge panel headed by Appeal Court president Justice Michael Buss unanimously agreed on Wednesday that the conviction should be quashed. With no prospect of a retrial, that means Gibson is a free man and will be released from Casuarina prison as soon as today.
Mr Warneke's mother said the freeing of Mr Gibson was one of the most "profound moments of my life."
"Today is a great day as it’s the beginning of the next stage of Gene Gibson’s life as a free man after nearly five years in jail," she said. "I am so happy for Gene and his family."
Ms Bishop was not in court to witness the decision handed down. She has previously said she wanted to be outside the prison when Gibson is released.
The long-running case into Mr Warneke’s death, codenamed Operation Aviemore, was beset by bungles and led to 11 police officers facing disciplinary or managerial action over their conduct.
A scathing report by the Corruption and Crime Commission found the problems with the case were a symptom of wider “failures and weaknesses” in the WA Police handling of major cases.
The original murder charge against Gibson was downgraded to manslaughter after video-recorded interviews conducted without an interpreter or lawyer present were ruled inadmissible.
A guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted, despite Gibson persistently maintaining that he did not kill Warneke as he originally said he he had. The Court of Appeal last year granted leave to appeal and fast-tracked the hearing.
Last month, Mrs Bishop said she now felt “completely and utterly hoodwinked by WA Police.”
“There is no one else who will fight for justice for Josh and to get Gene Gibson out of jail,” she said. “It has to be done and if no one else is going to do it, I’ll do it.”
“I think 2017 is going to be a great year because Gene Gibson is going to go free and there will be another investigation. I can’t wait for the new team to be appointed. Then we can start from scratch.”
After the decision was handed down, Mr Gibson’s family left court smiling but saying little.
Michael Lundberg, solicitor and partner at law firm King Wood and Mallesons, who took up Gibson’s appeal case, said the 25 year-old was “very happy” with the decision, and also thanked Mrs Bishop for her support in the appeal.
“There are no winners in this case. And although Josh and Gene have never met, their lives are now forever intertwined,” Mr Lundberg said.
Speaking to reporters after the news broke, Premier Mark McGowan said he was aware of criticism of the Police handling of the case, but added it was too early to comment on the potential for compensation.
"I think there was obviously some serious concerns that the court has taken account of," he said. "We need to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.
"I don't know what the court has determined but you should never, in a modern community like WA, have miscarriages of justice against people simply because they don't understand the language or they suffer from a mental impairment and if the outcome today guarantees that that hasn't happened in this case and hopefully guarantees it doesn't happen in future cases, well then that's a good thing."
Greenie policy puts people in danger of crocodile attack
There are 100s of thousands of crocs in Qld. but Greenies don't want crocs disturbed, and certainly not shot. And Qld. has a Green/Left government
IN THE latest instalment of sometimes-offbeat Queensland politics, the state’s upcoming May budget is being held hostage by two men from the outback. And they are refusing to release it until the Premier agrees to start killing crocodiles.
The Sunshine State’s two cross bench Katter’s Australia Party MPs, Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth, helped Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk form a minority government in the state’s hung parliament in 2015.
The pair has largely supported the Labor Party in the ensuing two years, but over the issue of crocodile culling, they have put their collective feet down.
Mount Isa MP Mr Katter and Dalrymple’s Mr Knuth say they will not let Ms Palaszczuk’s May budget pass, unless she agrees to crocodile population control measures in the state’s north.
Among the measure the pair want the Premier to agree to are crocodile hunting safaris, similar to African big game hunts that attract tourists from across the globe. “People think it’s unreasonable making threats on the budget, well how else do you get people to listen?” Mr Katter told reporters in Cairns.
“Our obligation is to go down there and vote for the interests of north Queensland, and if people are dying and you can’t get them to listen, what are you supposed to do?”
Queensland’s Labor government relies on the crossbench in the hung parliament, in particular the KAP, for support to pass supply bills.
The unusual ransom follows a number of crocodile attacks in north Queensland recently.
Cairns spearfisherman Warren Hughes, 35, was killed by a crocodile in shallow tropical waters near Innisfail last month, just hours before a teenager was mauled in the same area.
Wildlife authorities killed a four-metre crocodile believed responsible for Mr Hughes’ death.
Mr Knuth also released an image last week of the remains of a pet dog being consumed by one of the massive reptiles on a farm near Innisfail.
The KAP’s proposal includes managed culls, egg collection and movement strategies.
In particular, they are calling for local indigenous groups to run safaris for tourists, as a way of generating income while keeping crocodile populations in check.
They said they had the support of fellow northern Queensland crossbencher, Cook MP Billy Gordon.
“Attacks are on the rise, the crocs we’re seeing are big, aggressive and territorial, and crocs are surfacing in places they’ve never been before,” Mr Katter told the Cairns Post.
“People are petrified to get out and enjoy the waterways, even in safe areas, with membership dropping in water sport clubs and iconic events cancelled due to croc sightings.”
The issue of crocodile culling arises frequently in Queensland, however, Ms Palaszczuk has previously ruled adoption of the measure out.
Australia urged to use phonics in reading strategy as British schools minister tours country
Amazing that this is still controversial. All the studies show that phonics is a big help
British schools minister Nick Gibb is urging Australia to embrace phonics as part of a national strategy to help children read.
He is here to meet educators, teachers and politicians as the Turnbull Government moves to introduce literacy screening in Year 1 across the country.
Mr Gibb has toured a specialist literacy laboratory at Macquarie University in Sydney ahead of a meeting with federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham in Adelaide later this week.
Seven years ago, the UK Government embraced the explicit method of instruction known as phonics at a national level amid concerning national statistics.
Mr Gibb is responsible for English schools.
"We were worried that one in three primary school students were still struggling with reading, the basic building blocks of an education," Mr Gibb said.
"We wanted to make sure that schools were using systematic synthetic phonics in the way they taught children to read, because all the evidence from around the world showed that was the most effective way of teaching children to read.
"So we introduced this very simple check: children reading to their own teacher 40 simple words to make sure they were on track for Year 1 readers."
The idea is being considered by Mr Birmingham, who has appointed an expert advisory panel to give advice.
Phonics highly political in UK amid 'reading wars'
Mr Gibb's tour is being hosted by the conservative think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies, which wants Australia to follow the UK example of more explicit instruction in schools.
The so-called reading wars have raged in the UK for more than half a century, and the phonics debate is highly political. The Conservative Government's schools reforms have been controversial.
There is also debate in Australia over the best way to teach reading to children, and while phonics is part of the teaching methods employed, critics say it is mechanical and does not help with comprehension.
Anne Castles is the deputy director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.
The Macquarie University-based centre runs a reading clinic that examines children's cognition.
"The evidence is that a really key part of learning to read is learning the links between letters and sounds — what we might call phonics," Professor Castles said. "And what that allows a child to do is go from those unfamiliar squiggles on a page to the knowledge in their head, because they can sound a word out and get to its pronunciation.
"That's really important for getting children started in reading. It's not the only part of reading instruction, but it's a really important key part and lots of the research tells us that."
Calls for national conversation on phonics
Professor Castles said she supported moves towards more explicit instruction in our classrooms and said a national conversation about how reading is taught would be productive.
"Phonics is certainly not the only thing we should teach in teaching reading," Professor Castles said. "The controversy I think is because some people think that's what's being proposed.
"It's just one very small part of reading instruction, but it's a very important foundational part because that's what gets children on the path to reading independently."
Mr Birmingham's expert advisory panel is due to deliver its report by the end of April.
Why Pauline speaks the way she does
FOR a decent chunk of 1998, Simon Hunt spend hundreds of hours locked in a small Sydney studio listening non-stop to only one sound: The voice of Pauline Hanson.
Cutting up audio files that he would then arrange into the catchy satirical tracks he released as Pauline Pantsdown, the artist and academic got to know the One Nation party leader’s speaking style better than just about anyone.
There was the high-ish pitch and the subtle quaking quality, as well as that particular nasal tone. And the jumbled, sometimes garbled, sentences.
But in identifying Senator Hanson’s most distinctive vocal qualities, Mr Hunt thinks the most important part of creating her speaking style, is her breathing.
“She runs all the words together and that’s where the breathlessness comes from,” he tells news.com.au. “It keeps going and going and when you speak like that, the more you speak the more uneasy you get and the more the words get muddled and that’s where the uneasiness starts to show.”
Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech in 1996 was the first time most Australians heard the politician’s voice.
Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech in 1996 was the first time most Australians heard the politician’s voice.Source:News Corp Australia
Almost 20 years later, after several attempts at political rehabilitation and one great comeback for the now Senator Hanson, one of the most interesting qualities in such a seasoned politician is that she sounds so completely unseasoned.
Despite years in front of the camera, sometimes in incredibly hostile interviews, Hanson does not sound much different from the political newcomer who made a quavering maiden speech in 1996.
“She’s got better at breathing, better at deflecting, but the uneasiness is still there,” says Mr Hunt.
Mr Hunt says what he hears from Senator Hanson today compared to the newcomer whose voice he listened to all those years ago is a product of “a lot of media training”.
But he believes there is a strong element of strategy in retaining the small unsteady voice and the Queensland twang.
“I think Pauline’s uneasiness attracts uneasy people — people who are not quite comfortable about things in the world and don’t quite know how to put it — those are her followers,” he says.
Political communications expert and senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne David Nolan says not appearing too polished is an important part of Senator Hanson’s image.
“As a populist politician, Hanson’s support has always been based around the idea that she speaks on behalf of ordinary people,” he says.
“Donald Trump has certain similarities. People have talked about the way in which Trump uses simple language, coming across as off the cuff, and that makes people feel he is somebody who is genuine and relatable.
“Despite all this he is a billionaire and moves in circles that are far from ordinary people.
“Style does matter in politics and style can be the basis of populist appeals and I think Hanson also plays that game.”
Dr Nolan says Senator Hanson has always been subject to a lot of mockery for the distinct way that she speaks and even the way she stumbles over her words, but it has also worked to her advantage.
“To her supporters, part of what they hear in that mockery of somebody who is like themselves and who is an ordinary person. It kind of adds to that construct of the ordinary person that is a strong part of Hanson’s appeal,” he says.
“Approaches that deride her as somehow stupid or lacking credentials actually play in her favour because they reiterate a narrative that elites are trying to exclude the voice of ordinary people.”
Pauline Hanson’s delivery has developed, but her voice and other elements of her speech aren’t going anywhere. They’re part of the act.
They’re not things that aspiring politicians would work to imitate — more than one media training service uses her style as an example of what they can cure in their online promotional material.
But for one politician, it just works. As Mr Hunt says: “That’s just her.”
Senator Hanson declined to comment on this story.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here