Thursday, September 07, 2006

Best justice that money can buy


Crikey.com.au makes a sharp point today on the relative inequality of our justice system, comparing Steve Vizard's case to the case of a young Aboriginal burglar caught doing over Vizard's Toorak mansion.

The inequality of Australian justice was on full display in Melbourne yesterday.

On one side of William Street, in a witness box inside the Supreme Court, a wealthy, handsomely-suited, prosperous-looking 50-year-old businessman was into his third day of refusing to answer questions about, among other things, his illicit share dealings. On the other side of the street, in the dock inside the County Court, a remorseful 21-year-old Aboriginal burglar with a history of drug addiction and 75 previous convictions was being sentenced to four years' jail after pleading guilty to 25 counts of theft and burglary.

Steve Vizard squirmed but, advised by a legal team that included two of Australia's most expensive QCs, he managed to avoid giving evidence that could expose him to prosecution for perjury or for trading shares while on the board of Australia's biggest company, Telstra -- offences for which he was tapped over the knuckles by ASIC, fined $390,000 and disqualified from being a company director for ten years.

In the courtroom over the road, Peter Clarke also squirmed. "I'm very, very sorry for the pain I have caused in committing these crimes," he told the judge -- crimes which included aggravated burglary and stealing six laptop computers from the Toorak mansion of Steve Vizard.

As Steve Vizard could affirm, if he was prepared to answer, Australian justice is still the best that money can buy.

2 comments:

Jake McPherson said...

What has this piece about Steve Vizard got to do with Sydney Council please?

Shayne Mallard said...

Thanks for the comment and apologies for the delay in posting - technical problem at Blogger.

Note that this is a private Blog and not an official Council web site and does not use any Council resources. As I promised in the introduction nearly 200 posts ago - there's more to eCouncillor than politics. Liberalism and civil liberties are two very important public policy concerns of mine - and should be for all elected community leaders. The cost of justice, access to justice and inequity of the judicial system are very serious obstacles to a fair and just society. The Vizard example highlights this issue with greater clarity.