WOLLONGONG: LET’S GET RID OF PERFORMING ARTISTS!

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Wollongong City Council is at it again. Kill performing arts! Make it the private residence of only the select chosen few who live in the IPAC (which was community-built incidentally).

Council passed a motion to adopt a plan and allocate some $170,000 in funding for live music, evening economy and general cultural strategies for the city. That was back on May 12. Pass by 6 councillors to 5. 

Councillors who were uncomfortable with “budgeting on the run”, put a rescission motion to remove any reference to funding any new projects.

Council’s decision to not fund live music is an excellent thing! Full praise to Wollongong Council! All hail the avenging forces of sense! Performing arts should and must be killed off in this city. There is no room for musical sounds in the steel city. In fact, music is offensive as it goes against the un-pitched percussive noise of thudding industry that we are told we prefer. 

Wollongong deserves less than live music. We don’t want it! We want pavements. Lots of them. Wherever grass is, pave it. We want paid-for-parking – no freebies for us like those Shellharbour types! We want Piccadilly to remain an undeveloped eyesore for another thirty years. We want none of the grass to be cut – ever. That is all music to our ears. When the decaying filth of the steel city of dilapidation is so happily abundant, we need no music, for ours is the music of trash. And it’s free! Untaxed and undervalued. We’re sitting on a fortune, surely.

The funding of live music will only help to grow an aura for the city characterised by spontaneity and expressionism that is entirely inconsistent with the visual aesthetic of the great city of Wollongong. Our beautifully middling city strives for the great greyness of yesteryear when the introduction of traffic lights was a moment for thought and a place for people to come together in musical performance was a nightmare. Ours is a city which prefers short sleeves and a tie – the look of a 1970’s science teacher, to the eclectic chic glory of a contemporary and sexy woman who has a point to prove and knows how to do it. Our “central” glory most ably represents this potent striving for banality – the Wollongong City Mall “IMPROVEMENTS”, is all about concretely and diligently not moving forward toward any visual element of delight or momentarily stepping out of the shadows and into the warmth of sunlight cast by bright art. Performing artists have no place in Wollongong. They can go to Mulawah Correctional Centre which, incidentally, has more greenery and visual appeal than a stroll down the mall.

That’s why how home grown locals, amateurs and spirited creatives have no home at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre that we, the community, built. It’s why the council loves us not. It’s why we are encouraged to play for “experience”. It’s why we live in this great town. So we can accompany it, not perform for it. 

So I say, why fund the indefensible? Why fund the musical types? Who could possibly want Wollongong to find the next Beethoven or Mozart in it’s midst? I mean let’s get serious… it’s not like any budding Morrissey is out there jotting down inspirations while taking a calm walk through the post-apocalyptic paradise-cacaphony that is Wollongong mall these days. That kind of thing never happens here. Maybe Newcastle and other “progressive wannabes” but not here. We’re better than that right?

Reminds me of the time Dame Joan Sutherland came here to compete in our eisteddfod. We put her in her place didn’t we! “Dame Joan who?” Let’s do the same to musicians everywhere! We should hunt them down and burn their instruments on the pavement in front of the IPAC. It will send a strong message to all the right people! Go on Wollongong! Viva la gong!

Councillors Janice Kershaw, Chris Connor, David Brown, Gordon Bradbery, George Takacs, Leigh Colacino and Bede Crasnich supported the rescission on Monday night, while councillors Ann Martin, Michelle Blicavs, Jill Merrin and Greg Petty voted against. See today’s Illawarra Mercury online for more on this disgrace.

 

Aaron Kernaghan is Principal Solicitor at Kernaghan & Associates, a law firm based in Wollongong. He and the firm are major patrons of the performing arts throughout the region. The views expressed herein are his own opinions and do not necessarily represent the views of the company.

 

 

 

Higher Functioning….

The Director of the FBI, James Comey, has created a stir recently by advising that the FBI are missing out on employing many highly functioning and intelligent computer analysts due to their use of Marijuana.

He was quoted at an American Bar Association Conference into White Collar Crime saying “I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.” 

It is understandable that Mr Comey as the head of the FBI would need to consider all options that allow his organisation the most effective way to fight criminals even if that means hiring criminals (pot smokers). It is interesting that the comments from Mr Comey come within months of recent changes to the law in Washington and Colorado whereby the recreational use of Marijuana is now legal. 

In New South Wales severe criminal sanctions still apply for the possession and supply of Marijuana. The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) specifies that the possession of under 30 grams of Marijuana (Cannabis Leaf) is a ‘small amount’ but the possession of over 500 grams is determined as a ‘traffickable amount’. However, as society’s attitude changes towards the use of Marijuana it may be that laws are eventually relaxed and the possession of Marijuana becomes decriminalised. 

It will be interesting to see how the law in relation to Marijuana and other prohibited substances develops in New South Wales and abroad. However for the time being it would seem that the FBI employment aspirations of young pot smokers is up in smoke. 

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For more on the subject read here: http://time.com/107525/up-in-smoke-fbi-wont-change-rules-on-pot-smoking-recruits/

 

BAD TASTE FACEBOOK POST BY POLICE?

It’s one thing to jump online and be hip and happening – but it’s altogether different to be online and totally misjudged. 

The operators of the Facebook page for Lachlan Local Area Command (out at Parkes, NSW) put up a post on May 6 which is breathtaking in the trite way it deals with a serious issue:

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The post shows a more insidious concern – the subtext is a contempt for those who suffer from drug addiction at the hands of some of the most serious drug offenders. It does remind us of the way in which Police proactively seek our drug users rather than the dealers that we have been told by successive attorney’s general are the real target of “powerful new laws” (aren’t all new laws always so powerful).

This is a poor-taste post by Police and really doesn’t do anything but remind us that the problems with law and order in this state are more nuanced than just posing the question, “what do we do about the bad guys?”

Beautiful Courts of the World

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Today we go to Innisfail in the far north of Queensland, Australia. Innisfail was known as Geraldton until 1910 when the name was changed to avoid confusion with a town of the same name in Western Australia. It has a population of about 8,500.

Located at 10 Edith Street, the courthouse is a two-story brick building with a corrugated-iron roof. It is the town’s third courthouse. It still operates as a court house where the Innisfail Magistrate’s Court sits.

The building was completed in 1939, is heritage listed and was designed by the Public Works Department. It’s construction was part of a public employment program designed to increase job opportunities.

 

James Howell Comments: Prison Population Explosion

The two fundamental purposes of sentencing are punishment and rehabilitation. There has long been debate about using imprisonment as a vehicle for both of these purposes. Whilst no one could question that the deprivation of a person’s liberty is a form of punishment, much argument can be made about whether prison serves as an effective tool for rehabilitation. After all what does being locked up against your will amongst other dangerous criminals really do for a person’s ability to reintegrate into society. It is trite to say that crime deserves punishment and that for some offences or offenders there is no alternative than imprisonment. But there is also a bigger picture of a long term community goal of reducing crime which is where the element of rehabilitation comes into play. 

The recidivism of prisoners in NSW alone is one of the worst in Australia with an average of 43% of persons released from custody entering back into the system within a year. New BOSCAR statistics released recently show an alarming rise in the NSW prison population to a record high of 10,917 persons in March 2014. Each prisoner costs the government $119.00 per day (a total cost $1.299 million per day) with figures set to rise even further in the near future. The Attorney-General Brad Hazzard has called the rise in prison population as a win for “community safety”. Perhaps Mr Hazzard should visit those sentenced for driving offences, fine defaults and other minor offences and come up with a better political catchphrase before uttering such nonsense. 

The rise in prison populations has obvious flow on effects as a result of overcrowding. The NSW Prison system cannot keep up with the rising number of inmates and would need an extra two correctional centres the size of Parklea Gaol to keep up with rising prison populations. Recently two man cells at the Parklea Correctional Centre have been ‘modified’ into ‘three man’ cells. The threat and risk of violence grows exponentially for staff and prisoners and the concept that anyone would be rehabilitated after a stay at Brad Hazzard’s leisure is laughable. It should also be noted that most persons on remand (awaiting trial or sentence) are not able to partake in any rehabilitation or educational programs due to their remand status. 

Brett Collins, co-ordinator of prisoner advocacy group Justice Action, has perhaps more aptly described the situation, “[p]utting more people in prison will only have the opposite effect of what is intended…[i]t is an incubator for crime.” 

The time has come to stop politicising the crime and punishment and to come up with sensible solutions to real problems. If you lock them up and throw away the key today then you are endangering the community of tomorrow.  

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For the article read here. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/prison-population-explosion-could-lead-to-two-new-jails-per-year-20140515-zrdbs.html

The price of the ‘boganaire biff”

After news broke of Billionaire James Packer and Channel 9 Boss David Gyngell getting into a street fight on a Bondi street on a sunny Sunday morning the media went into a meltdown. Frenzied bidding wars for the photos followed by memorable headlines so hilarious that Australia’s king of successful bogans, Karl Stefanovic, lost his marbles on national television.

Not since the great state of origin biffos has Australia been so captivated by two blokes duking it out on a quiet suburban street, especially those two blokes. Why were they fighting? What lead them to this? All valid questions overawed by the spectre that is two fully grown (and middle aged) men going at it in their Sunday best (track dacks or tracksuit pants for you non-bogans).

But what is the cost of the fracas (apart from the obvious bad look for business)? Well today NSW Police have issued the pair with a criminal-infringement notice for offensive behaviour. If uncontested then each will be fined $500.00 and no conviction will be recorded against their name.

Now if either had made a statement against each other much more serious charges of common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm or even affray could have been laid. However, it seems that they have both escaped with a few bruises, a damaged ego and a fine that both can easily afford.

 

For the full article read here http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/james-packer-and-david-gyngell-issued-with-criminal-infringement-notices-20140509-zr7w5.html

For the best of state of origin biffs click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TecOGR_1hoU

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Timothy Wilson Comments: Winter is Coming – Swords Drawn in QLD Streets

After a minor crash on a suburban street in Queensland on Tuesday afternoon, two parties engaged in an argument which resulted in an angered party drawing a sword.

The man is to face Cairns court later this month.

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You can read the full story here: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2014/05/07/10/58/angry-driver-pulls-sword-in-qld-road-rage

What do you think about this? Do any of you have your sword in its sheath on your belt just in case?

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Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

The fall of Rome.

Today another Minister has fallen to the mighty sword of ICAC. Police Minister Mike Gallacher did not even have to walk into ICAC to loose his position as an upstanding and ‘honourable’ member of Parliament.

ICAC has heard allegations that Mr Gallacher was involved in a plot to hide a developer’s involvement in payments to an alleged Liberal Party slush fund. The allegation is that Mr Gallacher and former energy minister Chris Hartcher hatched a plan to hide donations from a development company controlled by mining magnate Nathan Tinkler to a business called Eightbyfive.

After the news came to light in evidence today the former Police Minister immediately resigned leaving the new Premier to deal with even more political fallout in a corruption scandal that has bridged both sides of state politics.

It would appear that counsel assisting the Commission, Geoffrey Watson SC, has become a modern day Elliot Ness. Dispensing with those intertwined with the submerged NSW Political landscape in a methodical and un-confrontational way, a smiling assassin rather than a vigorous pitbull. The stumbling upon new ‘information’ and evidence surely has those at the top shaking in their boots wondering if the mere mention of their name will cause their own empire to fall.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/police-minister-mike-gallacher-steps-down-after-icac-hears-he-was-involved-in-corrupt-scheme-with-nathan-tinkler-20140502-zr31y.html

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Botched Execution

ImageWhen talking about death administered by the state, this is what we’re talking about.

Botched, horrendous execution – more here.

NewsChannel 4′s Courtney Francisco was a witness to the scheduled execution, she provided the following time line:

6:23 PM – Prison officials raise the blinds. Execution begins.

6:28 PM – Inmate shivering, sheet shaking.  Breathing deep.

6:29 PM – Inmate blinking and gritting his teeth.  Adjusts his head.

6:30 PM – Prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious.  Doctor says “He’s not unconscious”.  Inmate says “I’m not.”  Female prison official says, “Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.”

6:32 PM – Inmate’s breathing is normal, mouth open, eyes shut. For a second time, prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious.

6:33 PM – Doctor says, “He is unconscious.” Prison official says “Mr. Lockett is unconscious.”

6:34 PM – Inmate’s mouth twitches.  No sign of breathing.

6:35 PM – Mouth movement.

6:36 PM – Inmate’s head moves from side to side, then lifts his head off the bed.

6:37 PM – Inmate lifts his head and feet slightly off the bed.  Inmate tries to say something, mumbles while moving body.

6:38 pm – More movement by the inmate.  At this point the inmate is breathing heavily and appears to be struggling.

6:39 PM – Inmate tries to talk.  Says “Man” and appears to be trying to get up.  Doctor checks on inmate. Female prison official says, “We are going to lower the blinds temporarily”.  Prison phone rings.  Director of Prisons, Robert Patton answers the phone and leaves the room – taking three state officials with him.

Minutes later – The Director Of Prisons comes back into the room and tells the eyewitnesses that there has been a vein failure. He says, “The chemical did not make it into the vein of the prisoner.  Under my authority, we are issuing a stay of execution.”