Thursday, 24 May 2012

More media beatup on Craig Thompson

I think that this is likely to be a common theme in this blog (read 'beat into the ground), but I can't resist quoting another article in InDaily about media integrity.

Susan Mitchell writes in THIS PAGE about the hype surrounding the Lindy Chamberlain investigation, and how the media (and the populace) judged her guilty. Even when a judge pronounced her innocent, she was still 'hounded' by the media.

I am not a huge fan of Mr Thompson. (read 'I think he is an arrogant berk who quite probably is guilty of many of the allegations made against him). I am also appalled by the lack of focus on policy in the recent media. Neither party is blameless, but the constant character attacks on Mr Thompson have shrouded any economic policy decisions he might have been making.

Ms Gillard, too, is attacked for supporting him and continuing to support him in his current role. This frustrates me intensely. Where did the innocent until proven guilty' idea go?

There is an implicit criticism of a government where a minister is shown to be guilty of some offence. But is there really any 'misjudgment' about accepting ministers/speakers who LATER turn out to be guilty? If your school teacher turns out to have committed fraud in some way, is that a judgement on their students?

The debacle about  Mr Slipper seems almost comical in that light. Mr Abbott is criticising Ms Gillard for accepting him as speaker, yet the offences with which he is charged occurred while he was a parliamentarian for the coalition! If he was good enough for the Libs, why not for Labor?

Why don't we all sit back and watch how the investigations come out? Sure, scrutinize the investigation, but leave the parties out of it.

Update: Here is Mr Thompson defending himself on the basis above. Seems fair to me.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Knee-jerk politics and unusual policies

We have just been handed a budget by our great and glorious leaders, and quite honestly, it is pretty damn boring. I just don't care enough about it to have looked at it in great detail, and anyway, the media will hype anything of interest up anyway! Right?

Have a look at this comment about the front cover of 9 May's Australian. Really gives you some confidence in the impartiality of our journalists, right?

There seems to be a trend towards hyping up anything that will discredit or inconvenience the party in power. Since Labor have been in power, most of the news about them has been negative (ignoring the contents) or at least negative in spin.

Anyway, to this budget. The one thing that really got my attention was Suzie Keen's opinion piece in "In Daily" on 10 May 2012. In Daily is a free periodical that can be accessed at www.indaily.com.au, and is always worth a read.

Suzie noted that according to one budget calculator, she stood to gain $0.06 per week, or about $3.00 per year. That was because this budget, for all of its "Family Spending," (see "Business pain, families gain" type headings), did not have much for people who don't have kids in school.

The underlying policy to this seems clear. As always, our great and glorious are advocating an expanding population. Like Howard's "Baby Bonus", there is a push to stimulate the economy by increasing the population.

I guess there is some justification for this. We will need more people in the work-force as the baby-boomers begin to retire, but I object strenuously to the theory that economic growth is always good. As the economy gets bigger, the rich get richer, and that is good, but it always seems to be accompanied by a growth in the lower class. (Note that this is a blog, therefore an opinion piece, and no, I don't have anything to back that up with.)

Ok, so that is my first dig today, at the policy that growth is a must. That sorta (not really) leads me on to my second dig of the day, which is the Euro-zone crisis. Specifically, the response of the rest of the Eurozone that is NOT in crisis.

Take as the premise that Greece is in a terrible financial position and looks like defaulting on its debts. The terms of any bailout include harsh austerity measures. Increase the pension age, lower the pension. Reduce government spending, cut back on public sector wages.

The whole point of this bailout should be to stimulate the economy and promote good policy and management. The thrust of the current bailout seems to be to grind Greece's economy into the mud! Surely a better way to get government debt under control would be to try to increase employment, spending, and therefore taxation?

There are some policies that are necessary, such as increasing the retirement age. But firing all your public sector workers is just going to put them onto welfare themselves. Why not focus on reducing corruption, and developing the aspects of Greek economy that are producing a return?

Also, riots and protests don't make anyone any money. Except placard-makers.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Trials and Tribulations... well, more about Trials.

I was to have my first ever Trial yesterday. My very own trial!

Picture this, a young, enthusiastic new solicitor gets given a 'soft' trial by the top brass of the firm, and effectively told to 'just run with it.' I can't lose!

Ok, it wasn't quite that bad, and I wasn't quite that gung-ho about it, but I was pretty excited. The trial was a simple one, and involved very few issues. If effect, it was about whether a person was standing on the footpath, or on the driveway. The difference between the two witnesses (the complainant and the defendant) was seriously, less than one metre.

I stayed at work until nearly 10.00pm the night before, reading and reviewing statements, and putting together a case concept. I wrote out my draft closing statement, and prepared angles for cross-examination. I had the whole thing ready to go. (2.5 billable hours, including two in conference with a senior partner.)

The trial was listed for 2.15, but my client had about 6 matters in the 10 and 11.30 lists, all alleged breaches of an Intervention Order, all against the same victim. All of them were denied, and all of them looked like having to go to trial, since prosecution weren't going to budge on them. None of these other matters were ready for trial themselves, though.

His Honour, in his infinite wisdom, decided to adjourn my trial until all the matters could be heard together.

My client, needless to say, was ropable. Some of these matters have been hanging over his head since September 2011, and his Bail conditions are draconian. The problem? This isn't the main Court in the area; this was in a small circuit Court that sits every two months. Since all these matters have to go to a Pre-Trial Conference (that puts us in July) they can then be listed for trial at the NEXT circuit, which isn't until September.

Asides from a ropable client and a disappointed junior solicitor, this actually raises an interesting costs problem. Can I ask for costs in this matter, since Police were ready to go, but the COURT was the reason it didn't proceed? IE, should I ask for a fee on brief?

The client is paying privately, but is only just keeping up with his payments. Should I bill the client for a fee on brief, even though the trial didn't go ahead? I don't want to double-bill him, but I am almost certain that I will have to re-prepare for the next trail, given that it will include a whole bunch more material.