Damian 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