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    "What Simon Birmingham has been doing is absolutely fantastic. He has managed to un-mesh the terrible omelette that was created by the Gillard government, the Rudd government in terms of funding; he's undoing all that." 

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    « Justice and unjust laws | Main | Bill Hosking »
    Monday
    Mar132017

    Another week

    March 7 to March 13 ... NT protective custody powers survive High Court challenge ... Competition watchdog targets Audi greenwashing ... Amber's legal bills ... ATO out-of-court settlements remain shadowy ... Expert witness' "inadvertent omission" ... Misogynist Christmas revellers ... Week@TheKnees compiled by Sohini Mahta 

    IN a split 4:1 decision on Wednesday (March 8), the High Court upheld the use of broad Northern Territory protective custody powers to lock up an Aboriginal man.

    Anthony Prior, the appellant, was arrested on New Year's Eve in 2013 while drinking on a footpath outside a shopping complex in Darwin. 

    The two police officers approached Mr Prior after he flipped them the bird. 

    When giving evidence, the officers accepted that they didn't know Mr Prior - they'd had no previous dealings with him and knew nothing of his background. Nor did they bother asking him any questions about his background or his drinking. 

    The NT Court of Appeal found that the police "acted to a certain degree on stereotyping". 

    Nonetheless, the High Court found apprehending officer Constable Blansjaar had reasonable grounds to believe Mr Prior was likely to commit an anti-social Liquor Act (NT) offence: he was entitled to rely on his policing experience of locking up Aboriginal men to lock up one more.  

    Justice Stephen Gageler, in dissent, said Mr Prior's behaviour "was not suggestive of a disposition to try to annoy anyone other than a member of the Police Force." 

    *  *  * 

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against luxury car maker Audi for alleged misleading conduct.  

    The watchdog claims Audi misled the public by failing to disclose the existence of "defeat" software causing diesel-guzzling vehicles to produce lower nitrogen oxide emissions when subject to lab test conditions than normal driving conditions. 

    ACCC seeks, inter alia, declarations, pecuniary penalties and corrective advertising. 

    In a cynical attempt to greenwash, Audi Australia's advertisers marketed the vehicles as eco-friendly low-emitters.  

    *  *  *

    Harmer: no comment on fees

    Former EA and presently unwaged Amber Harrison has amassed more in legal costs than the $363,000 she was paid before tax by Seven West Media to leave and keep mum.

    Harmers Workplace Lawyers, one of three or four law firms Ms Harrison used, issued a bill for nearly $130,000 covering work in the first four months of their engagement, the Australian Financial Review reported

    An additional sum of $334,000 was allegedly pursued as outstanding in the following year; a claim Harmers, a.k.a. the 2016 Australasian "Employment Specialist Law Firm of the Year", won't comment on. 

    The legal bills comprise some iffy charges – including one for reading a memo instructing Harmers staff not to comment on the case if approached by journalists. 

    Chairman Michael Harmer also charged Ms Harrison $66.67 for providing the contact details of a barrister to a Harmers employee.  

    *  *  *

    Former Federal Court judges Garry Downes, Kevin Lindgren and Brian Tamberlin have been appointed to review out-of-court settlements by the ATO

    Following concerns that the ATO is forgoing revenue and making cushy deals with the "big end of town", Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan told a parliamentary committee in February 2016 that bringing in former judges would help reassure the public that the ATO was "settling the right cases in the right way".

    Over 90 percent of large disputes settle out of court. 

    It's unclear how the review will garner confidence without inviting scrutiny; the ATO refuses to identify the 10 settlements it expects to review in the first half of this year.  

    *  *  *

    Cross: spear throw experiments

    Retired physicist Rod Cross was cross-examined in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 7) by Bruce McClintock SC, the barrister for the deceased Caroline Byrne's boyfriend Gordon Wood.

    Wood's murder conviction was overturned in 2012. He is suing the state of NSW for malicious prosecution and claims millions of dollars in damages.

    Prof Cross carried out swimming pool experiments before concluding Caroline Byrne was "spear-thrown" to her death at the bottom of the cliffs at Sydney's notorious suicide spot The Gap. 

    He "inadvertently" didn’t tell the jury his conclusions only applied if Byrne hadn’t been struggling

    McClintock suggested that Prof Cross was "prepared to fabricate evidence" because he was writing a book -juicily titled Evidence for Murder: How Physics Convicted a Killer - about the Byrne investigation. 

    There would have been no book if Wood had been acquitted, McClintock alleged

    "Regardless of the outcome of the trial I would have tried to find a publisher," Prof Cross responded.

    *  *  *

    Abetz: congratulated The Queen on International Women's Day - no artificial promotion there

    Sydney comedian Kara Eva Schlegl aptly termed International Women's Day (March 8) "Misogynist Christmasin acknowledgment of the men's rights activists and keyboard warriors who, energised by feminist calls to action, attempt to hijack the one day that's not meant to be about them. 

    "Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated that hard work and commitment earn you far more respect than demanding that people make way and artificially promote you simply because of your sex," Tasmanian Senator Erich Abetz said in a Facebook post on Misogynist Christmas morning.  

    Business lobby group Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry took to Twitter to plug penalty rates cuts, seizing the IWD hashtag BeBoldForChange. 

    Naturally, pale, male and stale CEO James Pearson delivered the message. 

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