Monday, 24 March 2008

When Justice & Law part company

Not Just Yet. May I recommend to you the 2008 Manning Clark lecture by vocal human rights campaigner Julian Burnside QC, available on ABC Big Ideas.

One could easily spend a day reading Mr. Burnside's numerous publications and in my view, be a better person for it. A Google search will provide you with plenty to think about as to Australia's rule of law or rule of man.

This most recent lecture is not about dogs, or pets, or ageing, health or other Barking Mad campaigns, but it highlights some atrocities of our legislative system. A memorable quote is "when justice is placed beyond reach (in a democracy), we are betrayed". Or, more ironically: justice is open to all, just like the Ritz Hotel. How does this relate to Barking Mad?

I have helped numerous members successfully challenge 'silly dog fines', where a dog owner was acting responsibly, but allegedly illegally. An example would be where a $330 fine was received in the mail weeks after your beautiful morning walk on an empty beach, after a ranger 'just scans your dog' when they meet you in the car park and sends you away with 'have a nice day'.

Not one member was prepared for the extensive time required to make a case for common sense and all felt staggered by the legal resources (MONEY) put into stalling the process, denying information, hiring lawyers, writing letters, etc. Those who have been through it know, now, what I'm talking about. A case in point in having two Warringah Council rangers and a lawyer in court FOR A FULL DAY in February 2008 in a challenge against Barking Mad having one dog on an empty beach in an area in which they have stated they have no authority back in MAY 2007! (Members login required, this case continues in May 2008).
  • What is the cost to the community of a picnic with four people and one dog on a blanket on a secluded, walk-in only beach?
  • What is the cost to the community of two rangers and a lawyer in court for more than a day?

Mr. Burnside talks about how a State government (with deep pockets and a deep resentment for those who choose to legally challenge them) spent $4 million so that they would not have to compensate a member of the stolen generation.

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