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The DPP’s Independence  – You Could Knock Me Over with a Feather!  


buggDamian Bugg was Chancellor of the University of Tasmania from 2006 to 2012, and chairman of the Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce 

by Mary W Maxwell

When Martin Bryant was prosecuted for the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Damian Bugg was the Director of Public Prosecutions (the DPP) of Tasmania. Bugg subsequently became the Commonwealth DPP from 1999 to 2007.

To whom is a federal director of prosecutions answerable? I always assumed that he comes under the bossing of Australia’s Attorney General – that’s a cabinet-level portfolio in federal parliament. (In the US, the prosecutors are directly answerable to the Department of Justice, whose boss is the Attorney General.)

But I was wrong. An astonishing thing happened in 1973 in Australia, and boy did it fly under the radar! A change in accountability occurred such that the DPP answers to – are you ready for this, folks — it is totally amazing. The Damian Buggs of Australia are not accountable to anyone!

How did I find this out? I went to Google Scholar to look for Damian Bugg, and there, in bold print (I mean normal print, but his words were about as bold as you can get!) was a paper he gave when he was Commonwealth DPP. He says: “In this paper I examine, with different focus, issues which I discussed at the Heads of Prosecuting Agencies Conference (HOPAC) in Quebec in July 2007.”

See my quotes from Bugg’s paper below; all are italicized.

An Incredible Sleight of Hand

Let us understand that in a democracy the way the people rule is by majority vote, with each citizen having one vote. If the democracy is able to meet in the town square, everyone can take part in the argument for or against a certain policy. But in modern times the people send representatives to parliament to do the policy-making.

Anything that goes on in Parliament is under the control of the people. It may turn out that elections are rigged and so the men and women in Canberra weren’t really the voters’ choice. It may also be that media can flood the public with misinformation and thus make them vote badly. But at least in the ideal, Parliament answers to us.

If some department of government were to be able to win Parliament’s approval (by a statute) to go its own way, to be free of further control by the government and hence by the people, that would be amazing, don’t you think?

As I said, I have only just discovered that this happened in Oz in late 20th century. You could knock me over with a feather. In the 1980s I was doing a PhD — in Politics — at Adelaide and I never heard a word about it. I then did a law degree and still this fact did not penetrate my brain!

What Could Justify “Prosecutorial Independence”?

First let me say that Bugg’s paper has no honesty to it. He makes such excuses for an independent DPP as:

  • A DPP must be independent of government, so that its choice of whom to prosecute will not be “political.”
  • Somebody (in this case the DPP) needs to look at the expense of prosecuting, so that the courts aren’t clogged.
  • The old system was confusing in having three bosses: the attorney general, the solicitor general, and the Crown.

When I say Bugg is not being honest I mean these things do not warrant the establishment of an “Independent Prosecutor.” Even Blind Freddie can see that items 2 and 3 could be fixed up by legislation — there is no need whatsoever to bring in a new “authority” for that.

As for Item 1, granted it is a worry if the decision to prosecute Criminal A and not prosecute Criminal B is made in a ‘political way.’ Oh boy is that a problem — as we have seen in the case of Martin Bryant. But how would it help for some other entity, a DPP Office, to choose to prosecute A or B or to refrain from prosecuting A or B?

This is a bad joke. When the prosecutor is under the attorney general, the chain of command comes from the people. They decide who will be in parliament, hence in cabinet, hence in charge of that particular portfolio.

If government persons behave too ‘politically’ they need to be dealt with, and if they behave criminally they do need to be tried. That’s fine – they are dependent on the people. We surely don’t want a DPP who is “independent”!

UK’s Policing Grab 

Let me interrupt the prosecution issue to show you an interesting report as to how the power of the police was also grabbed – in the UK – by a force that was anti-democracy. I think you will see the hand of the cabal in all this. Gee, they really do stay up late to get all the bits and pieces taken care of!

At historyandpolicy.org, historian Chris Williams shows how town control gave way to a “national” force. I’ll paraphrase Williams:

— A Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 had made towns of England and Wales self-governing. Each would select a ‘watch committee’ from their number to run the police force. A town could therefore veto individual prosecutions. (Naturally! The town governs itself.)

— In 1856, Home Office tried to get laws limiting the rights of boroughs to control their own police forces. But these efforts were defeated – “the people knew better.”

— Bribery then entered. Per an act of parliament in 1857, “central government paid a quarter of the costs of ‘efficient’ forces for all towns of more than 5,000 people.”

— Then World War I, 1914 — “The cherished independence of the watch committees could be extinguished at will.”

— In 1919 there were police strikes. (Gosh, I wonder who provoked those?) This led the Desborough Committee to say “police wages should be increased, and set centrally for the first time.”

— In 1930 the case of Fisher v Oldham used intellectual gymnastics to show that a constable was ultimately responsible to the law rather than to his superiors. Oh my.

— There were ‘Red scares’ (that old chestnut!) The security state “saw an unprecedented level of peacetime planning for counterinsurgency.”

— Home Office “took increasing responsibility for producing a class of leaders for police forces, and thus intervened in matters of training and promotion, setting up the Hendon Police College in 1933.”

— “By the 1950s, Whitehall introduced a policy of refusing to appoint any Chief Constable who had no experience in a different force: this was clearly designed to create a more nationally homogenous force.” (This is reminiscent of Stalin’s tactic of transmigrasie.  A cop from far away won’t be chided by his mother for being too harsh on the local homeless people, right?)

Britain Was the “Pioneer”on This

The British have got us beat by several decades, as can be seen in the foregoing study, that outlines the clever work of Chris Williams. It must be that Somebody Up There (the cabal) noticed that people had power — so they found many gradual ways to stamp it out.

In Australia there may be similar moves having to do with policing but I can’t cover those in this article. Still, the move toward DPP independence in Oz, (it occurred first in Tasmania and Victoria) was a copycat of an English plan. Isn’t that awful? Surely it’s a sleight of hand by World Government.

Damian Bugg’s paper contained this crazy remark:

Interestingly in 1986 the amendment effected in Tasmania removed from the old Crown Advocate Act the obligation to provide advice and representation to Police, the stated purpose to recognise the independence of the DPP from the police and their investigative function. [Holy cow!]

That acknowledgment of the DPP’s independence of function from the police provided the only note of similarity between what was happening in Australia and the rather substantial move in the United Kingdom, at that time, to establish the Crown Prosecuting Service headed by the DPP.

In 1986, the DPP of England (Note: Scotland has a separate system of law enforcement) claimed that he is duty bound to such things as:

“To continue prosecutions while, and only while, they are in the public interest; To conduct cases vigorously and without delay; and To undertake prosecution work effectively, efficiently and economically.”  [Isn’t that cute?]

Bugg says in his paper about the Australian experience:

Whilst the early establishment of the independent status of the DPP in each jurisdiction was important the creation of these offices provided an opportunity for collegiate activity among the Directors…. The first notable achievement was the adoption of uniform guidelines for the exercise of the prosecutorial discretion in 1989/90.

Just fathom it: prosecutors meeting together without influence from governments. Absolutely mind-boggling!

Let us look at what the thinking was in 1996, the year of the Port Arthur massacre. Our Commonwealth DPP at that time was Michael Rozenes, QC. He wrote a paper called “Prosecutorial Discretion in Australia Today.”

He is looking back at how bad things were before the DPP got independence. Rozenes said:

“The process of prosecutions in Australia at both State and Federal level is probably the most secretive, least understood and most poorly documented aspect of the administration of criminal justice.”

Well, that’s all I need. There! – It’s been said by a QC who ought to know. Let us write to him and ask what he thinks of the non-trialing of Martin Bryant. I emphatically do not mean that as Commonwealth DPP he should have had his nose in it. It was strictly a Tasmanian government affair.

Oops, not governmental apparently. Gosh, I am having trouble getting my head around this! If you’ve seen the video I made at Sydney Harbor, you know that I see such agencies as FEMA and FBI as de facto divorced from the US constitutional government, but even they do not say, as does our DPP that they are de jure divorced. Mein Gott!

— Mary Maxwell lives in Adelaide. She  looks forward to meeting you if this news about the DPP has left you feeling like a stunned mullet



  1. Independent DPP, yeah sure, I’ve read much of the brief that Bugg got for Port Arthur – and that any first year law student could have torn apart – yet he proceeded with it.

    Then when he was the Commonwealth DPP, he got behind the Dr. Haneef ‘terrorist’ charges. Thankfully, Haneef had enough friends to do something about it – http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/terror-charges-dropped/2007/07/27/1185339250715.html

    That guy was a full on ‘player’ – what’s in it for me? Heck, why would you need any oversight for an ‘independent’ prosecutor such as Bugg?

    Having said that, I did have some success breaking some rules and going direct to the NSW DPP in an ugly case I did. Long story, but they set up a separate investigation of the police with the Police Integrity Commission that eventually resulted in a Royal Commission. Unfortunately, I don’t know how ‘independent’ the NSW DPP is anymore, so trying what I did could backfire today.

    I’ve got to quit writing about this stuff…

    • Hi Terry
      Its Cherri ( Martin Bryants case)
      Is it fair to say that you could have some very valuable knowledge or backup to help this case with Martin? am I right here or wrong?
      However I do respect your privacy and policy un to yourself but it always
      concerns me that someone
      must make a stand for Martin Bryant. In the case of Damian Bugg well this is just
      beyond a joke if Australians are under siege of people like Damian Bugg. Australians
      must take a stand on all of these ‘powers of
      government’ so to speak.. How is it that these procedures for example DPP
      Damian Bugg get to perform and prosecute the way they do how is that actually possible? When Martin was never trialled and heard who gives a person like Damian Bugg any course of any action towards Martin Bryant?
      Cheers 🙂

      • Cherri, Shulze was the main opponent, barristerially, in this-all.
        (But Keith Nobel is doing his darndest to rouse the Tassie Bar for the 20th “anniversary” of Port Arthur this year.)

      • Cherri, I was a barrister in NSW, Bryant is in Tasmania, so there was little I could do. I did write some articles and gave some speeches about gun control and Port Arthur. Everything I wrote about is now out in the public domain. Andrew MacGregor and I exchanged emails a couple of months ago and we agreed that what we were doing 15-20 years ago has finally started to get some traction – its about time…

        I’ve been retired for almost 8 years and have no intention of ever seeing the inside of a courtroom again. Perhaps the legal profession of Tasmania will finally ‘do what is right’.

        • Oh, and the first time I made a speech on the gun control agenda was in February 1988 in Young, NSW to more than 600 people. That is 28 years ago.

          What the Hell does it take to get people to wake up?

          • Hi TERRY…thank you for the reply 🙂 Yes quite understand where your coming from now, and to think you wont to be back in a court room must make you shiver 🙂 I guess like you said its moved a little since you first spoke on gun laws etc., So here’s hoping this year will pull the pin on the big pins! take care

  2. I have been most reliably informed that these days the NSWODPP will not even acknowledge legal correspondence submitted for a Nolle Proseque. (sp.?) Let alone reply with a considered examination of the material.
    Before fhe DPP such a submission went fo the
    NSW Attorney General for consideration of a prosecutor’s advice and recommendation.
    Seems that the old fashioned simple courtesy has been replaced by bad manners from the NSW government bureacrats……. or is just careless arrogance, laziness and/or disdain for the public?
    Ms Upton MP is the Minister to deal with this unfortunate developing habit that is reflecred poorly upon her office.

  3. So, I guess instead of being involved in “political” decisions, etc., he (Bugg) is free to follow whatever guidance or instructions having the most outside control over his decisions, such as corporate, foreign governments, NWO, etc., etc. Regardless of what the “laws” say, these “officials” are accountable to the people. But then if you believe it’s legitimate for monarchies or others to actually own countries, legal systems, and people, then you might disagree with me. I’m not exactly sure what the situation is in Australia, but I believe it’s considered (by the monarchy) to by owned by the monarchy.

    • “Monarchy” is just a concept. People have to have a way of organizing their ideas about the power relations in which we are all naturally involved — especially in modern society.
      Monarchy is one way that has been popular in ancient and modern societies; theocracy is another.

      Speculator247, you are correct to say that Damian Bugg is answering to his bosses. Thus he is not “independent!” (What a joke). But those bosses (as far as I have read the situation) are independent of our democratic control. They are more or less a mafia surviving by the use of force. Unfortunately peeps don’’t want to talk about it.

      I like the words of dear old David Hume:

      “Almost all the governments, which exist at present, have been founded originally, either on usurpation or conquest, or both, without any pretense of a fair consent of the people. When an artful and bold man is placed at the head of an army or faction, it is often easy for him, by employing, sometimes violence, sometimes false pretenses, to establish his dominion. He allows no such open communication, that his enemies can know, with certainty, their number or force. He gives them no leisure to assemble together in a body to oppose him. Even all those … may wish his fall; but their ignorance of each other’s intention keeps them in awe, and is the sole cause
      of his security.” [in Of the Original Contract –1752]

      I invite others to come in on this conversation. (Please). I put ideas here on Gumshoe so they can be developed — or shot down. The Independence of the Prosecutor which i discovered purely by acident, is such a SIMPLE sleight of hand.

      The British case of Fisher v Oldham, that was mentioned as a way to get police to be independent of the “watch committee,” is similarly ingenious. (And I’ll bet it was made up, as so many cases are.) The ruling depended on the chief of police saying his loyalty was not to the politicals (which means all of us, right?) but to “the law.” Oh-oh.

      So, Speculator, how about you speculating right here and now as to what kind or arrangement you want. Nobody really wants a mafia, do they? I think we are long past the day where we can afford to just bitch and bitch about how bad the current arrangement is. What arrangement do we want instead? What is feasible? To put it another way: is it INEVITABLE that trhe future be a boot stamping on the human face?

  4. “The war on terrorism is the war on freedom” Aaron Russo. “Those who vote decide nothing.Those who count the votes decide everything.” Joseph Stalin.

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