…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Like a ghost of Hamlet’s father, the ghost of Heiner will not go away ungratified. Some people, mostly on the Left, are telling him – go away, let bygones be bygones, move forward. The small matter of a gang rape of an aborigine girl almost a quarter of century ago in an institution for which a conservative government was responsible, and quashing of the subsequent Stipendiary Magistrate Noel Heiner’s inquiry by the socialist government of Wayne Goss should be forgotten, just as many other crimes and misdemeanours of the ruling oligarchy. And as in the Shakespeare’s play, Goss/Claudius poured the poison, Akerman/Marcellus says: “There is something rotten in the State of Denmark” and keeps the spirit of Heiner inquiry in the conciousness of the literate public.
A few people wrote about the Heiner affair in the past, but none, in my opinion better than the prominent Australian journalist Piers Akerman, who, admittedly, has the advantage of being rich and famous and of not living in Queensland. Piers Akerman on 31st March, 2012:
“… The notorious saga began with the sordid gang rape of a teenage Aboriginal girl while she was in the care of the Queensland government as an inmate at the John Oxley juvenile detention centre in May 1988.
There has been no dispute about those facts. The police statements, including an admission by one of the participants, are on the record. The critical element of this matter is not the initial act of rape; it is what later took place. Because of a series of disturbing incidents that occurred within the juvenile detention system, National Party premier Russell Cooper directed former magistrate Noel Heiner to conduct an inquiry into the detention centre.
The former National Party families minister, Beryce Nelson, has said she expected Heiner to investigate allegations that “some boys and girls were being forced into sexual activity against their wishes, for the benefit of others; that illicit drugs and prescribed medications were being brought into the centre, sometimes by staff and sometimes by detainees who had simply walked out and returned apparently without any permission; that some staff were physically and sexually abusing children in their care”.
That inquiry was shut down by the Goss Labor government as soon as it was elected in 1989.
Then, and this is the crux of the matter, the documents collected by Heiner in relation to the events were destroyed on the orders of the Goss cabinet on March 5, 1990.
Kevin Rudd was Wayne Goss’s chief of staff and later director-general of his cabinet office.
The Heiner affair revolves around the deliberate destruction of material known to be wanted as evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation, a breach of the Queensland criminal code’s section 129 for which there is no statute of limitations.
Cabinet was told the acting director-general of the Department of Family Services had obtained legal advice that the basis for his appointment did not provide any statutory immunity from legal action for him or for informants to the investigation and that destruction of the material would reduce the risk of legal action and provide immunity from prosecution for all involved.
A former member of that cabinet, Pat Comben, has since gone on the public record confirming this account of the events that took place within the cabinet.
It is now widely acknowledged that such an interpretation was in fact fatally flawed.
Indeed, Senator George Brandis, told the senate that he had obtained a copy of the legal advice and it said: “I believe there is no legal impediment to the continuation of the inquiry.”
It continued: “This advice is predicated on the fact that no legal action has been commenced which requires the production of those files and that you decide to discontinue Mr Heiner’s inquiry.”
As Brandis, a barrister, said: “The basis put forward in the cabinet submission appears to have misrepresented the position.”
So, too, have successive Labor figures from Kevin Rudd to Peter Beattie to Anna Bligh over the past twenty-three years as they have argued that there is no need for any further inquiry into this matter.
Brandis noted that a large body of legal opinion (he mentioned Bob Greenwood QC and retired Queensland Appeal Court judge Jim Thomas QC) believed that the shredding almost certainly did constitute a breach, by the entire cabinet, of section 129 of the Queensland Criminal Code.
“What the cabinet knew, and this was part of the cabinet submission, was that a Mr Coyne was about to initiate proceedings against the government in which the material destroyed as a result of the cabinet decision would have been material evidence,” Brandis said.
The view of Greenwood and Thomas has been supported by a raft of former judges, from all benches, the High Court, and state supreme and appeal courts.
It gets worse.
The Beattie government actually charged a Baptist minister under section 129 over destroying a girl’s diary in which she had recorded abuse by a senior parishioner.
The law was applied to him in a manner that the Labor government-dominated Criminal Justice Commission and the Labor government itself claimed could not be used in the Heiner affair.
This is the essence of the outrage that has been sparked by the Heiner revelations – that the Labor Party, in Queensland and federally, has put itself above the law.
It has done everything within its power to ensure that the law will not be applied to those who have been in authority. One law for the governed, another for the government.
Even the Bligh government attempted to bury the Heiner affair by paying the victim an ex gratia sum of about $120,000 – without publicly acknowledging the commission of any crime. This is a most serious and important matter.”
Not so long ago, at least on the climate change scale, in 18th century B.C. , Hammurabi, king of Babylon, ordered that at the foot of his legal code, the following words to be carved into the later so famous stele: “I order that the strong may not oppress the weak, that justice might be dealt the orphan (and) widow, in Babylon … I wrote my precious words on my stela, and in the presence of the statute of me, the king of justice, I set (it) in order to administer the law of the land, to prescribe the ordinances of the land, to give justice to the oppressed.”
The centuries old desiderata remains just that.
Apparently, before the election Campbell Newman promised to hold an inquiry. Campbell Newman is a politician. There is a question of costs, always a good excuse; and then the suggestions of nefarious involvement of politicians from the Newman’s side of politics. Multiple immunities would have to be offered; always a risque proposition. Offer of immunity to the Queen’ representative Governor-General Quentin Bryce?
Piers Akerman suggests that such an inquiry would restore trust in government. That, in my respectful opinion, is impossible. I would settle for just a little bit less of distrust in “Chinatown” on Brisbane river. We live in times when the Prime Minister of Australia is proud of her lies and her comrades in politics and in the media see nothing wrong in that and no longer even bother to come up with excuses. The sheep applaud all and any new deceptions by the socialist government, the more brazen the better. Honesty, justice, morality and integrity are only words in a never opened dictionary. I am afraid that just like that Shakespeare’s play I was alluding to at the beginning, this Heiner tragedy will also end unsatisfactorily. Yorick will have the last laugh.