Court Sentence

Swings and roundabouts

It’s funny the way things seem to go on swings and roundabouts. In 1945 the troops returned from World War II celebrating victory over fascism and the arbitrary and excessive use of power by the State. By the early 1950s politicians like American Senator Joe McCarthy had fuelled Cold War fears of Communist subversion, and convinced the populace there was “a Red under every bed”. So Americans surrendered their civil rights to avert the Communist threat. But then, a few years later, after a series of reckless, often-unsubstantiated accusations and character assassinations, McCarthy’s public hearings were discredited and shut down. By the early 1960s a new generation was again championing civil rights and libertarianism.

But as with all roundabouts, what goes around comes around again.

In 1974 the big news in terrorism was the Provisional IRA. The British public eventually became so outraged by the havoc wreaked by Irish bombers in the UK, it happily accepted new anti-terrorism laws allowing police detention in custody without charge for up to 7 days, in the hope evil perpetrators would be swiftly brought to Justice.

When bombs exploded in two public houses in central Birmingham on 21 November 1974, killing 21 people and injuring 182 others, everyone was relieved to hear six Irish suspects had been swiftly arrested and whisked into custody. “The Birmingham Six”, as the Irishmen would become known, were held by West Midlands Police behind closed doors for 7 days before being charged with anything. In the meantime they were reportedly deprived of food and sleep, interrogated for up to 12 hours at a time without a break, threatened and beaten repeatedly, terrorised with guard dogs, and subjected to a mock execution.

By weeks’ end four of them had confessed to mass murder. All six were ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment.

But 17 years later, new forensic evidence proved none of them was guilty, and the English Court of Appeal set them all free. A decade later, in 2001, each of them was awarded compensation, ranging from about $1.7 million to $2.5 million. In the mid 90s, I met one of the Birmingham Six, Jonny Walker, while he was in Australia on a lecture tour decrying detention in custody without charge. Walker, a former member of the British Armed Forces, had spent 17 years in prison before he was exonerated. When I asked him if he was bitter about the experience, he replied simply “When I went into prison my daughter was two years old. When I got out she was 19. Of course I’m bitter.”

Not so long ago, forcible detention in custody without charge was forbidden in Australia. That has changed in relatively recent times, so now police suspects are routinely arrested for questioning, and held for lengthy periods without charge. The latest wave of terrorism, this time Islamic, has convinced many that such drastic means are not only acceptable but necessary. In fact the process has become so familiar no one even raised an eyebrow earlier this month when counter-terrorism police obtained court orders to hold four Sydney men in custody for seven days without charge, as part of the investigation into an alleged plan to smuggle a bomb onto an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi on July 15. The detention order was made pursuant to provisions of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which deem terrorism investigations so inherently complex as to justify extended periods of detention in custody without charge.

Of course the British anti-terrorism laws of the early 1970s were motivated by a similar sentiment. The fact that two of the Sydney men held over the Etihad investigation were subsequently released, one without any charge at all, the other apparently cleared of any involvement in the terrorist plot after spending seven days in police custody, demonstrates how careful one must be. None of us would like to be put through that ordeal, particularly if we were entirely innocent. It’s true that criminal investigations can be complex and protracted, but at the same time coerced confessions and forcibly extracted information are, of their very nature, wildly unreliable.

There’s need for caution here. I’d hate to think that, as the carousel comes around in a decade or more, we may see more wrongly convicted victims of detention on the lecture circuit.

Tradesman Work Concrete

Every single tradie – put your hands up (and stretch)

Where would we be without Tradies? When we need something built, demolished, removed or improved, they provide the brains and muscle to get it done. They’re our backbone – so we need to help them look after theirs.

Luke Barden, Gold Coast Organiser of the Queensland Plumbers Union - walking the talk on tradie health and safety.

Luke Barden, Gold Coast Organiser of the Queensland Plumbers Union – walking the talk on tradie health and safety. PHOTO: Supplied

It’s no secret that Tradies are at a heightened risk of suffering injuries as a result of their repetitive and demanding physical work. A staggering 42% of construction workers commonly suffer from back, nerve and chronic pain injuries according to Worksafe Queensland.

Sadly, I’ve lost count of the number of tradies I’ve helped who’ve been injured on a worksite. All too often, their stories are the same.

They’re the loyal work-mate who gets the job done and doesn’t want to let anyone down, so they push through the pain and injure themselves.

They’re battling financially and the stress is putting a strain on their relationship.  Loved ones tell me “he’s a different man after his injury”.

Kids question why their handy parent can’t suddenly fix their bike or kick the footy with them anymore.

They’ve been told to toughen up or snap out of it, the reality is they would love nothing more than to get back to work. They never thought this would happen to them.

For me, the most concerning thing is that most workplace injuries can easily be prevented.

Philippa Gilbert CEO of PhysioMax supporting National Tradie Health Month

Philippa Gilbert CEO of PhysioMax supporting National Tradie Health Month PHOTO: Supplied

It’s an issue very close to my heart because I’m a Tradie’s lady myself – a proud one at that. It warms my heart to see my kids light up when they hear their Dad’s ute pull up and leap into his arms after a long day’s work. It’s those priceless moments that I hope remind my Tradie, and yours, to put their health and wellbeing first.

Tradies National Health Month is a valuable reminder to look after yourself and others in the workplace not just throughout August, but for your entire working life so you are returning safely to those you love each and every day.

For more information on the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s (APA) Tradies National Health month, visit www.tradieshealth.com.au

Cheers The Kitchens

Gastro-pub Malt House set to join The Kitchens

Just when you thought you couldn’t be any more spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding where to dine at The Kitchens (there are over 30 fresh food retailers, cafes, restaurants and bars, after all), the food playground is throwing another contender in the mix.

Enter: Malt House.

This restaurant-meets-bar has been taking shape behind closed doors for the past few months, and is now adding the finishing touches before it opens to the public in the coming weeks.

Dubbed as a gastro-pub (think top quality restaurant food being served in a casual pub-style setting), Malt House is set to be a popular addition to The Kitchens’ dining portfolio, particularly with those whose idea of a perfect day out involves sipping on a cold brew and enjoying gourmet fare.

In case the name didn’t already give it away, Malt House will specialise in all things beer – with an impressive selection on tap and an even bigger range of the bottled variety.

From the signature Malt House ‘The Kitchens’ Lager, to a dizzying assortment of local, craft, gluten-free and international brews (some of which you may never have even heard of!); patrons will have a tricky decision ahead of them when it comes time to order. The pub will also feature a dedicated keg room, which will be on display for all to see.

And while ale may be the star of the show, Malt House will also dish up a formidable gastro fare menu, putting a modern spin on classic pub faves.

Although the full menu is still under wraps, diners can expect everything from slow cooked lamb shank pie, to panko and Parmesan crusted pork schnitzel… even the traditional Sunday Roast is set to make a welcome appearance.

Located at the entrance of The Kitchens on Level Three, Malt House will open seven days a week from 11.00am until late. For more information, visit: thekitchens.com.au

Girls School Uniform

Public vs private school debate – settled once and for all

When I dropped my daughter off to school today, her teacher was nowhere to be seen. First bell came and went, then second bell, then the third ‘seriously guys, class has started’ bell sounded, without her teacher making an appearance.

This was unusual, as he’s always early.

The teacher next door then popped over and said, “Mr R is sick with the flu! A replacement is coming in shortly, but until then, let’s get started with some reading.”

A few of us parents hung around so we didn’t leave the next-door teacher to deal with 50 youngsters on her own, and before long the vice principal bounded in.

Twenty-five grade one students suddenly sat up straighter and fixed their attention on Miss G, the way kids do when someone Important enters the room.

Charming, bright and warm, Miss G is lovely and the kids light up when she’s around. My daughter smiled at me when Miss G announced she would guide them through some reading while they waited for the substitute teacher to dash to school.

And so I left. On my way out of the gates, I saw another teacher sitting with a student who was obviously having some trouble settling in that day. Then I spied some parents chatting with the music teacher, whom my daughter declares is “so cool” for playing them a Trolls song during music class.

I left, thinking, “I’m so glad we chose this school.”

You see, we agonised about this decision. We read every article known to man about private and public school. We looked up ratings and NAPLAN results, and we wondered whether we were selfish to prioritise holidays and weekend takeaways over private school fees (because budget-wise, we knew it was one or the other).

In the end, we chose our local public school and we could not be happier with our choice.

It costs $8,700 per student to get an education at this school, but because it’s public the government foots the tab, and we pay a few hundred dollars per year for uniform, books and excursions.

And do you know what I’ve come to realise?

There are brilliant teachers and principals at public schools, and there are brilliant teachers and principals at private schools. Some private schools have seriously ordinary bullying policies; others excel in this area. Some public schools have very limited foods available in the tuckshop; others have inspiring cooking programs. Most private schools have incredible facilities when it comes to music and drama and science. Many public schools need air-conditioning.

Every school is different, but ‘public’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘worse’. And no matter whether you choose public or private for your kids, I hope you reach a moment where you think: “I’m so glad we chose this school.”

Rest in peace, Julian Cadman

This morning, we woke up to the tragic news none of us wanted to hear. The body of 7-year-old Australian boy Julian Cadman has been found in Barcelona.

He was a victim of a cowardly terror attack that killed more than a dozen people.

All weekend, I had one eye on the news. While I played puzzles with my kids and made them sandwiches for lunch, I glanced at my phone, hoping for a positive outcome for the Cadman family.

My heart sank this morning when I saw that hope was dashed, and that the little boy hadn’t made it. I hugged my kids closer. I cried. I didn’t even react when my four-year-old had an epic tantrum instead of cleaning up her toys.

Running through my mind on loop was the same thought: How do you possibly survive the loss of your child like this?

I have no answers. There are no words to comfort his grieving parents, or his family, or his friends in grade 2 at St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School in Sydney.

It has made me contemplative, and today I wonder: is the world getting worse? Are we becoming more violent? Is the world more dangerous than ever before? When a family on holidays in Spain has their life destroyed in such a devastating way, these questions ring true.

I don’t know if the world is getting crueller, or whether we’re just becoming more aware of it all, thanks to rapid media sharing and global communication.

Terrorism is nothing new. Hate has always existed and terrorists have always tried to trade in fear. Nearly very single day, for decades (if not centuries) in various parts of the world, families have had their lives destroyed at the hands of terrorists. Each and every one of these people affected has the same devastating story of loss.

We can feel buried under the weight of this tragedy, as I did today. And, we can also try to feel grateful for everything we have. We are so blessed to live on the Gold Coast, in relative safety and stability.

We can also focus on the heroes in this story – like the elite police officer who shot and killed four of the terrorists responsible, and Fouad Bakkali, a pharmacist, who locked up his shop with 50 terrified tourists inside, including Julian’s seriously injured mother.

It was the news none of us wanted to wake up to today. Rest in peace little Julian.