Port Arthur – from timber camp, to a brutal prison, and now a “world class” tourist attraction.
A perfect location for brutality
In brief (for our international readers): The Port Arthur penal settlement began as a timber station in 1830. The station ran various industries, such as ship building, shoe making, timber collection, brick making and later a flour mill. In the 1840s the convict population had reached over 1100, and the punishment philosophy shifted from physical to mental subjugation. The 1870 the numbers of convicts dwindled. With the remaining convicts being too old or insane to be of any use, the last convict was shipped out (from England) in 1877.
In the 20th century the abandoned prison became a Historic Site. Thousands of tourists visit it every year, arriving in buses from Hobart, the capital of Tasmania (Australia’s island state)
Then, on Sunday 28 April 1996, there was a massacre. This how the official Port Arthur site describes the event:
“…a young Hobart man armed himself with three high-powered firearms and a large quantity of ammunition, then drove to Port Arthur. Just north of the township he entered the home of a local couple he knew. Inside, he shot and killed them both. He drove to the Historic Site and ate a meal on the deck of the Broad Arrow Café. He re-entered the café, which was crowded with lunchtime customers, took a rifle from his bag and began shooting. In the first 90 seconds, 20 people died and 12 were injured. The man then moved into the adjacent car park, where he shot and killed four more people and wounded a number of others. After shooting indiscriminately at people in the grounds of the Historic Site, he got into his car and drove up the former main entrance road to the original toll booth. In this area, seven more people were killed in two separate incidents, during which he stole a victim’s car and abandoned his own. The man then drove north. Outside the General Store he killed one person and took another hostage. He drove back to the house where the first killings had taken place, firing random shots at vehicles along the route and injuring a number of people. At the house, the man set fire to the stolen car, then took his hostage inside. Through the afternoon and night, shots were fired at police officers on the scene. At some point during this time, the gunman killed the hostage. In the morning, he set fire to the house and was captured by police as he fled from the burning building.
After initially pleading “Not Guilty” to all 72 charges, some days later the man changed his plea to “Guilty” to all charges. He was therefore sentenced to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole on all 72 charges, including 35 charges of murder.”
Note: On the page “Sunday 28 April 1996 – A brief outline of events” on the official Port Arthur government website, they do not mention Martin Bryant’s name.
At Gumshoe, we have reported on Port Arthur before and Mary Maxwell has specifically addressed the failure of the judicial system.
Keith Noble, PhD.
The other night I spoke to Keith Noble, an Aussie ex-pat living in Europe. He has written and collated evidence on the massacre in a 600 page book – MASS MURDER, Official Killing in Tasmania, Australia. He writes:
“Until two years ago, I had no idea anything was broken. I believed in the justice system…. What I found left me shocked and sickened. The information was there, easily accessible, for me, or anyone else to see. …The more I delved, the more apparent it became that something is terribly wrong with our system, but hardly anyone seems to know, or care.
Near the front of the book, he sums up the (his) case against Martin Bryant:
“NO hard evidence proving guilt, NO motive, NO fingerprints, NO legal representation, NO truth, NO credible identification, NO public inquiry, NO legal integrity, NO proper firearm ownership, NO DNA evidence, NO coronial inquest, NO free admission of guilt, NO witness testified in court, NO forensic results, NO crime re-enactment, NO jury, NO complete list of evidence, NO JUSTICE!”
Noble focuses on the the mainstream media role in promoting the official narrative “even though its associated dishonesty and deception has been detailed for many years”. He says mainstream media never raise the 22-body refrigerated mortuary truck, the embalming equipment prepared in advance, nor the identity of the woman who police saw later running naked and screaming at Seascape cottage late Sunday afternoon.
So, now Keith Noble, PhD, has sent a very detailed complaint submission (on the 27th September) to the Press Council, attention: John PENDER, Executive Director, and David WEISBROT AM – Chairman & Professor Emeritus, University of Sydney – complaining about the integrity of News Corp reportage.
I quote from Noble’s submission:
“Dear Mr. PENDER, Dear Prof. WEISBROT,
Thank you for your attention to this submission which accompanies an official complaint related to newspaper and website articles published this month by News Corp Australia.
This 21-page submission focuses on the cruelty, inaccuracy, and unethicalness of newspaper and website articles which demonize an individual and incite hatred against that person, and which might encourage an act of fatal violence by an official or inmate of Risdon Prison who has not been told the truth about the massacre (28 APR 1996) at Port Arthur in Tasmania.
These articles by News Corp Australia are blatant and outrageous. Thus, this submission will be distributed throughout Australia and around the world. Inciting hatred of a person possibly leading to the death of that person is unacceptable to moral people. Please note [that] your reply detailing the corrective action taken will also be circulated throughout Australia and internationally. If the APC fails to reply detailing such action, then it will be declared an unethical and deceptive body. Such failure will be publicly and ongoingly associated with the coverup of the official killing and wounding at Port Arthur. (How involved was ASIO in all of this?)
People in Australia have told me that no action in relation to this complaint and submission will be taken by the APC. It certainly seems that News Corp Australia publications can and do publish whatever they want related to the massacre at Port Arthur. And this is not some new development. Back on 30 APR 1996, The Australian front-paged an image it had manipulated which made the victim appear deranged. And even though The Australian quickly apologized for publishing this false image, the article headed Face of a Killer continues to deceive the public and promote hatred.* (It seems no APC action was ever taken against The Australian.) And where one newspaper goes, others follow. On 19 DEC 2010, the Sunshine Coast Daily (not a News Corp Australia newspaper) published a hit-piece article inciting hatred, and it too was accompanied by a manipulated image which made the same subject appear maniacal. (* See dates and descriptions on p.139 of: Kyla McFarlane. Tear ; in Anna Smith & Lydia Wevers eds. Victoria University Press on Display: New Essays in Cultural Studies; 2004: pp. 130-150.)
It seems APC has no interest in curtailing cruel, inaccurate, and unethical journalism related to the Port Arthur massacre and related matters. And if this is true, then the APC is complicit.”
Noble makes further references, questioning this type of reportage about the life of the prisoner. I am quoting from his submission to the Press Council:
»Bryant has been involved in several assaults and was part of an attack in February that left a male nurse with a fractured jaw.« What part (large part? small part? mere observer?) Martin Bryant played in this alleged attack is not revealed. This cruel statement is hearsay unsubstantiated by any reference and is unaccompanied by a name of a real person who could (would?) swear it was true.
»Bryant has wreaked a violent path through various wings of Hobart’s sprawling jail, including vicious assaults on government staff and nurses.”
»…Bryant stockpiled military grade automatic weapons.« There is no hard evidence confirming a stockpile of any weapons. This allegation is part of the official narrative which is corrupt, inaccurate, and deceptive. Martin Bryant’s then girlfriend
Petra Willmott declared the following in an official written statement dated 30 APR 1996: »I have never seen any firearms or ammunition at Martin’s place.« The corrupt so-called expert Gerard Dutton made damning ballistic statements which were NEVER PROVED at a trial.
»…he has also been known to pay other men with family blocks of chocolate in order to let him perform sexual services for them.« (sic)
»He was later described by experts as having the emotional and intellectual age of a five year old.«
»…is drugged to point of being ›almost a vegetable‹.« (sic) It seems Martin Bryant has been drugged since 30 APR 1996. After he was apprehended, it was reported he had an IQ of 66 [retarded; what must it be now?] and he was functioning at a school-grade six level. It seems Bryant is officially and constantly drugged and the public is encouraged to hate him because he is now almost a vegetable.
Australian Press Council
Australia’s press council puts forward these principles:
Accuracy and clarity
- Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading….
- Provide a correction [if needed]….
Fairness and balance
- Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.
- Ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply….
Privacy and avoidance of harm
- Avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
- Avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice…. Integrity and transparency
- Avoid publishing material which has been gathered by deceptive or unfair means, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.[!]
- Ensure that conflicts of interests are avoided or adequately disclosed, and that they do not influence published material.
Keith Noble will keep us informed if and when he gets a reply from the Australian Press Council.