Australian Politics 2015-04-08 15:54:00

Another one of Australia’s charming multiculturalists

A SERIAL cop abuser caught three times in the space of as many months hurling vile, expletive-ridden and threatening abuse at police was given only a fine yesterday.

Rakeem Ebrahim, 19, called officers dogs, c**ts and homos before taunting them about having sex with their girlfriends, mothers and even their grandmothers.

Downing Centre Local Court heard his conviction for using offensive language and resisting an officer was his third conviction for abusing and intimidating police over a three-month period last year.

Ebrahim was contrite in court after pleading guilty to swearing but the Marayong man had a wide smile as he left burdened with only a $1000 fine.

The police union said the soft penalties for serial offenders like Ebrahim sapped the morale of officers.

The unprovoked abuse started when officers spoke to a group of 30 youths in Hyde Park at 2am on September 13 last year.

Despite being warned five times to stop swearing Ebrahim was unrelenting.  “If you didn’t have a badge I’d smash you…you homo c**t, I bet you suck cock… you don’t deserve my f**king respect you dog c**t,” he said.  “I f**ked your misses, she was good. “You’re all fucking dead dog c**ts.”

When he was separated from the group in a bid to calm him down the abuse continued.  “F**k off c**t I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

When officers tried to arrest him he swung his arms and tightened them to prevent being handcuffed. It took a short struggle before he was handcuffed.

His behaviour improved when he found himself in paddy wagon but the officers told the court he had continually ignored their instructions.

“The accused showed an absolute disregard for these actions,” court documents said.  “He immediately caught the attention of the police due to the extreme use of offensive language.”

Magistrate Graeme Curran said it was “appalling” and “disgraceful” behaviour.  “I’ve see some rough stuff but this is beyond the pale,” he said.

The court also heard Ebrahim had been on a good behaviour bond which had expired prior to yesterday’s conviction.

On September 25 last year he was placed on a six-month good behaviour bond and fined $500 for offensive language and resisting and intimidating a police officer at Marayong in June.

Three days before this conviction he was charged for intimidating an officer and using offensive language in George St, Sydney. He was fined $1500 on March 27.

Police Association President Scott Weber said the courts should come down harder on those who abuse police.

“This offender was showing off in front of his mates and shows a lack of respect for society,” he said.  “If he is saying this to an armed officer what do you think he will do to a family walking down the street?

“The judgement handed down for ongoing offenders does not match community expectation. There should be some restriction on their behaviour as they are likely to do it again.

“Police use a lot of discretion and should not be abused for performing their role.”


The real source of civility in Australia

The Abbott Government’s attempt to remove Section 18C from the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) was politically doomed the moment Senator George Brandis uttered his now infamous statement about people having ‘the right to be bigots’.

Unfortunately, the Attorney-General could not have done a better job of confirming the worst fears about the potentially divisive impact on community harmony publicised by opponents of amending the RDA.

The association this has created in the public mind means those who still want to amend Section 18C will need to walk the case for change back through some treacherous cultural terrain.

The first step is to recognise why this was such a disaster, not only in PR terms, but also in terms of understanding the kind of social values that make a multi-racial society like modern Australia a success.Section 18C should be amended because it undermines the democratic rights of all Australians.

In the wake of the Andrew Bolt case, I fear that the RDA will have a chilling effect on important national debates including Indigenous identity and Muslim integration.But if I believed that this meant giving people the right to be bigots I too would be opposed.

Yet some Libertarians have suggested that people should simply harden up and ‘choose not to take offence’ at what people say. Doubling down on idea that bigotry is somehow a right both misses the point and lowers the stakes, while amplifying the issue that should be neutralized.

To argue like the old anti-PC brigade that some people are too sensitive, and appear  to  suggest that the use of discredited derogatory speech should be shrugged off, is to put at risk one of our greatest national achievements.

The amazing transformation over the last half century from a White Australia to a remarkably harmonious multi-racial society, an achievement partly measured by how truly ugly and unacceptable racial epithets now sound to our ears.

But does this mean we need to keep Section 18C? No, it does not. The idea that the RDA keeps ‘race relations’ civil in this country profoundly misunderstands the way the nation has actually worked to overcome its racist heritage – which is, by promoting a culture of tolerance in tune with the pre-existing egalitarian values of Australian society.


Barrister Tony Morris to fight speed-camera fine in landmark challenge

ONE of the state’s top barristers has launched a landmark legal challenge against speed-camera fines in Queensland, refusing to pay a $146 speeding ticket and relying on case law from nearly 200 years ago.

Tony Morris QC, 54, from Hamilton, launched the challenge after his pale blue Volvo station wagon was snapped speeding at 57 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in St Lucia early on May 12 last year.

Rather than naming the driver and paying the paltry $146 fine, Mr Morris has invoked a spousal privilege case from 1817 and argued it is unconstitutional for a Queensland court to fine him when there is evidence showing he was not driving the car.

Mr Morris QC has also warned the Department of Transport that he may be forced to call two senior judges and five senior Bar Association staff as witnesses to prove he was with them when the Volvo was photographed.

He told the Department in a letter on July 1: “I was not driving the vehicle in question — nor was I anywhere near Carmody Road, St Lucia — at the time of the alleged incident”.

Rather than naming the driver, Mr Morris has invoked an age-old principle established in England 200 years ago, saying a husband “cannot be compelled to provide information which incriminates his wife”.  “I decline to identify the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the relevant time,” Mr Morris wrote.

Mr Morris is married to architect Alice Hampson, the daughter of the late barrister Cedric Hampson QC.  Mr Morris was appointed a QC when he was 32, the youngest in the nation’s legal history.

He says he was in a meeting with Supreme Court judge David Jackson, Federal Court judge John Logan, the Bar Association boss Robyn Martin and Bar Association vice president Geoff Diehm QC and barrister Anand Shah at 8.20am when the photo was taken.

But the Queensland Police service has told Mr Morris he “may still be liable” for the speeding fine even if Mr Morris can prove he was not the driver.

Senior prosecutor Martin Longhurst told Mr Morris that the speed camera legislation, passed in 1995, only gives car owners two defences: by naming another driver or saying they didn’t know who was driving.

Mr Longhurst said a registered car owner cannot say they know who the driver is but then refuse to name them. Mr Longhurst also questioned Mr Morris’s claim that he was being forced by police to incriminate someone.

On January 14, Mr Morris wrote to the Attorney-Generals of the Commonwealth and the eight states and territories, saying he planned to challenge the validity of part of the Queensland speed-camera laws.

Mr Morris told The Courier Mail that he didn’t see why he should “dob someone in” for driving the car when the legislation is invalid.  “The law doesn’t (force me to dob someone in), it says I can get out of trouble by voluntarily dobbing someone in,” he said.

Mr Morris told The Courier Mail that the pale blue Volvo XC60 photographed by the speed camera was not the car he normally drives. He would not say who usually drives it.

The case will go to the Court of Appeal within weeks, having bypassed the both Magistrates and District courts due to the constitutional challenge.


News Corp Australia denies allegations that it took billions of dollars off shore tax-free

Australia’s largest newspaper publisher has angrily rejected allegations that it siphoned off $4.5bn of cash and shares from its Australian media businesses over the past two years, virtually tax free.

News Corp Australia has this afternoon denied the allegations published in a story across Fairfax newspapers yesterday, written by Michael West, which used calculations by a University of NSW academic to claim that over the past decade Rupert Murdoch’s companies here have paid income tax equivalent to a rate of 4.8 per cent on $6.8 billion in operating cash flows, or just 10 per cent of its operating profits.

“This claim is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of these transactions, US and Australian tax treaties and applicable Australian tax law,” said News Corp Australia chief executive Julian Clarke.

In the statement the company claims that over the last five years, News Corp Australia has paid $417m in corporate tax and withholding tax on accounting profits of $815.9m. The publisher also said it had paid $900m in goods and services, fringe benefits and payroll taxes over the last five years.

According to the Fairfax Media story the company had refused to address questions arising from an analysis by UNSW Jeffrey Knapp.
But in a statement a spokesman told West: “Our financial reports comply with Australian Accounting Standards and the Corporations Act 2001, have received an unqualified audit opinion and are filed with the regulator, ASIC. Beyond this we have nothing further to add.”