Who wants to be Witch Finder General?

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March at the Bay

I was going to make this a politics-free post but I’ve found myself stewing about this all week so I’ve gotta say my piece. If you’d rather not, feel free to skip down to the pretty pictures after End of Rant.

For the last week or two the media has been full of the Brittany Higgins case. She has accused a man of raping her in a minister’s office in the parliament building in Canberra two years ago. Rape is never, ever excusable. Women often do not go to the police immediately for many very good reasons. Now Ms Higgins has come forward, four other women have accused the same man of sexual misdemeanours, also in the parliament building. Since in our legal system an accused is considered not guilty until the prosecution has proved guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the man’s identity has not been revealed. Which is as it should be.

The workplace culture at parliament house has been described as ‘toxic’, encouraging predatory sexual behaviour as allegedly demonstrated by the accused man. Maybe it is. You can say the same thing about just about any workplace anywhere, where (a certain subset of) men have power that they use to obtain or force sexual favours from subordinates. Harvey Weinstein immediately springs to mind. Holding an inquiry to try to change the culture in parliament house might help, although I expect it will be another case of all talk, no action. We’ll see. In the meantime, I expect the man will be charged and will appear in court in due course.

And then we have the other case.

In 2020 a woman withdrew a complaint she had made to NSW police regarding a rape that she alleged occurred thirty-three years ago when she was sixteen and the rapist was seventeen. Four months after withdrawing the complaint, the woman killed herself. Recently the Prime Minister’s office and Senators Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young (both senators are in the opposition) received anonymous letters about the alleged rape. The woman is now dead. The police have closed the case, citing insufficient evidence, but the coronial inquiry is still open. Unlike the accused in the Higgins case, the man accused, now a senior cabinet minister, has been forced by public pressure from social media to ‘out’ himself. Christian Porter, who is the attorney general, has denied the allegations. But the opposition isn’t satisfied with allowing this case to be dealt with according to law. The opposition leader has called for an ‘inquiry’ into the matter, and demanded that at the very least, Porter should be sacked if he does not stand down.

Oh, please. Who’s going to play the witch-finder general? The Honourable Leader of the Opposition? Why don’t you just chuck him into a swimming pool with his hands and feet tied? If he floats, he’s guilty; If he drowns, he’s not. This isn’t justice. It’s trial by media, it is the opposition shamelessly picking up a sad, sad circumstance and using it as a cudgel against the government. How about they get on with the process of governing the country and leave the law to the police, the coroner and the courts?

As for the journalists, there aren’t very many of them in this country any longer. Far too many are no better than the paparazzi, chasing the next juicy bit of gossip, spare with the truth to gain the maximum ‘likes’ and shares on social media. The excoriation of Christian Porter is obvious. But then Brittany Higgins, who is the victim in the other case, is also being shamelessly hounded. I’ll bet there are many times she wished she’d kept her mouth shut.

End of rant

I’m one of those people who thinks the seasons are determined by the movement of the sun, not some dictate by the Powers-That-Be so although 1st March is ‘officially’ the start of autumn, I reckon it doesn’t really happen until after the March equinox. Be that as it may, we’re having a brief taste of my favourite season before the winds pick up this weekend.

The local pier, low tide

Our local beach is beautiful at this time of year. Flat sea, little wavelets coming in to shore, slightest of breeze. Just lovely, perfect for a walk. And one of the local ospreys made an appearance, stretching himself before a fly-past up to the jetty.

You should always stretch before flying

All that fresh air must have excited us. After many stay-at-home weeks where a trip to the shopping centre was the highlight of the social calendar (we’ll leave out the overnight in the hospital) Pete and I went on a day trip, a drive up the coast to the little town of Woodgate. We’d stayed there a couple of times over the years and I wrote about that during the Big Lockdown last year. It hadn’t changed much. Unlike the beach at home, here out of the lee of Fraser Island there was a sea breeze and with the tide just past the high, waves and white caps.

Woodgate beach

From there we drove back to Childers. Some of you may recall the dreadful events in 2000 when fifteen young people, who’d come from overseas and interstate to work in the local farms picking crops, died in a fire in the Palace backpackers hostel. (Read about it here.)The building is now a memorial to those lost. Robert Paul Young, who lit the fire, was sentenced to life in prison. He was recently denied parole which was fitting justice.

“Taking a Break in the Field” an oil painting on linen 130cm x 170cm photographer:Mary Lewis Artist:Josonia Palaitis

Childers is built around the Bruce Highway, the A1 that connects Brisbane with Cairns and all stops between. The road goes through the heart of the town where the speed limit drops to 50kph. There are three sets of traffic lights on about 2km of road. One of the lights between the Palace Hotel and a café where we had lunch is for pedestrians. The road carries a lot of traffic and we remarked how the truck drivers must hate having to traverse this town. One day they’ll build a by-pass. One day.

After a less than memorable lunch we meandered home via Burrum Heads where the pelicans did not make an appearance. Dinner was a very nice home-made pumpkin soup.

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