June 29, 2005 | Graham

Fisycian heal thyself

In all the Wagnerian sound and fury as Di Fingleton swoops on the Queensland legal and political establishment blaming everyone but herself for her conviction and incarceration I have yet to hear anyone ask one of the more basic questions. If the High Court’s intepretation of the relevant section in the Magistrate’s Act is so obvious, how is it that the Chief Magistrate herself never raised it as a defence?
And if all the rest of the judiciary is incompetent for not seeing it, how competent is she? And how could she even think about suing her legal team for not seeing this defence, when as a qualified legal practitioner and the person charged with administering the act, she appears not to have thought about it herself?
And if she regards all these other people as being incompetent for a fault she shares with them, how could she possibly expect the government to reinstate her to her former position?
After the High Court judgement Fingleton started with a well of public sympathy. She appears to me to be emptying it at a prodigious rate. I would have thought that it might have crossed her mind to wonder whether she had ever on the bench made a “wrong” decision that had unjustly sent someone to jail and that she might therefore show some humility. If it can happen to the Chief Magistrate, who is there it can’t happen to?
Instead she has been publicly demonstrating her capacity to be an insensitive bully – the character defect that led directly to her charge in the first place. The fact still stands that if I or anyone else had done what she did, we would have gone to jail, and deservedly so. The High Court has merely found a loophole which allows an exemption to Magistrates. Why this ought to be so is unclear, and if the government had not changed the act so as to take the disciplinary powers over other magistrates away from the Chief Magistrate, they would have had to seriously consider changing the act to ensure that Chief Magistrates aren’t “above the law”.

Posted by Graham at 7:42 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I was asking those questions, unfortunately I am not a journalist though.
    Douglas Wood, Douglas Wood. Have you seen his behaivour? Did you see media watch on monday night?
    Contrast him with his brother, they make Tim and Peter look like conjoined twins.
    Now for some conspiracy theories.
    So pretty please can we have a post about Douglas Wood?

    Comment by Benno — June 29, 2005 @ 3:39 pm

  2. As a result of the High Court decision, compensation for wrongful imprisonment would seem a natural flow-on for the time Di Fingelton spent in prison but Qld Premier Peter Beattie (a staunch advocate of civil rights during the 1970s along with other Qld notables such as Matt Foley and Terry O’Gorman) has ruled out that possibility by stating that “it would open a floodgate of litigation for those freed by the courts”. The Qld Premier contends that it is ok to do time in a Qld prison irrespective of innocence or guilt and the government has no obligation to compensate even though an injustice has been deemed by the courts. It is a significant turn around since Premier Beattie’s student days in the 1970s when civil liberties was a platform that helped elevate him to the position he now occupies. It would appear that power and hypocrisy supercedes moral obligation as an expedient alternative when that elevation has been attained.

    Comment by Bernie — June 30, 2005 @ 2:34 am

  3. I’ve thought that Fingleton’s prosecution, conviction and imprisonment were on the nose since Day 1.
    However, what concerns me more than her individual experience of injustice, is that this seems to be symptomatic of a wider malaise in all Australian jurisdictions: the increasing tendency for undeserved imprisonment, detention or deportation to be considered quite OK.
    Think about Hanson, Rau, Solon, and all of the legitimate asylum seekers who languish behind razor wire without having committed any crime.
    I think this is costing us a lot more than the hefty financial amounts that this ‘justice’ system sucks up. Think about humanity, compassion, decency and other apparently outmoded concepts.

    Comment by garra — June 30, 2005 @ 8:51 am

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