FESTIVAL OF LIGHT KINGS CROSS MARCH
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [10.17]: Recently the courts dealt with the last of the cases arising from the inflammatory Fred Nile march through Kings Cross on 1st October, 1990. One case deserves particular attention. In Sutherland Local Court on 30th October Ian Day, a 36-year-old Sydney man, appeared and was charged with assaulting Constable Geoff Bullus in the execution of his duty. He was further charged with hindering and resisting Constable Bullus and with resisting two other constables in the execution of their duty. Magistrate Connor found the following:
He also found that Mr Day had been kicked at the police station. Simply, Magistrate Connor did not believe the police evidence. The magistrate added that the allegations made by the defendant about being bashed by police were not the subject of the charge before him and that he was not required to determine criminal liability in relation to them. The defendant told the court that he had gone to the rally as much for the picnic-like atmosphere as to demonstrate against Nile. However, we all know that police on horses rode into the crowd and that plainclothes police took photos of individuals. There was fear in the air, with plainclothes police looking and acting like thugs and grabbing at people in the crowd.
Ian Day, an average sized person, saw one such thug starting to assault a smaller man who had blown a whistle. The defendant attempted to intervene but the thug, who turned out to be a police officer, turned on him and two other police accosted him from behind. At the police station Ian Day faced the flash of a polaroid camera. According to the findings of the magistrate, he was held by police as Constable Bullus physically attacked him. He was then thrown downstairs to the cell area, where he was kicked in the back. The defendant emerged from the police station with a badly swollen and bruised eye and cuts. He sought medical attention and produced photos of his injuries in court. However, the police did not present their little polaroid picture. Instead, they had the photographer give evidence of it. This did not please the magistrate, whose comments effected a scathing attack on the "reliability and credibility" of the police witnesses. The magistrate did not accept the police evidence or their concocted story and awarded costs of $3,500 against them. However, this still leaves Ian Day out of pocket after a three-day hearing and much preparation to clear his name.
In another case against three people at Downing Centre Local Court on 3rd July Magistrate Beveridge suggested that the cost of the proceedings arising from the demonstrations organised and led by Fred Nile should be paid by Nile himself. The magistrate found that Nile's bodyguards had attacked a man from behind and two other
men had gone to the defendant's aid. All three were arrested, but the attacking bodyguard was not. Again a magistrate was forced to say publicly that he preferred the evidence of one of the defendants to the arresting police officer. Magistrate Beveridge observed that police had an unfortunate job of trying to preserve law and order on the day of the protest, but he added:
I believe it is more likely than not that the defendant was assaulted by Bullus at Kings Cross police station.
Magistrate Beveridge further found that the words "fuck you then" used by one defendant in a not very loud voice and when facing away from police were not offensive, but he said that if he was wrong in so doing then the words were an immediate response to the use of language by the police and the defendant had a reasonable excuse for the use of such language. Of the 20 people arrested on 1st October, 1990, I can report the results of 18 of those cases. Seven people pleaded not guilty and were acquitted. In most cases costs awarded were against the police. Six people had the charges proved but dismissed because of triviality, extenuating circumstances or prior good character. Five people were fined small amounts. The following is clear. A member of the public was assaulted by two and maybe more police officers. A number of police were found by magistrates not to have been reliable and credible witnesses and appeared to have perjured themselves. Police who had arrested a man for swearing under the outrageous swearing provision in the Summary Offences Act were guilty themselves of using offensive language against members of the public. I expect the police to face the same treatment as any other member of the public. There have been allegations of violence and perjury against them and they should be brought before the courts. Anything else amounts to condoning of this behaviour. Now we have several other people before the courts following another Fred Nile demonstration through Sydney. This is becoming an annual event -
The Hon. Beryl Evans: On a point of order. It is important that honourable members hear what is being said in adjournment debates. I am unable to hear the Hon. P. F. O'Grady.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I ask the Hon. P. F. O'Grady to speak up. I also ask honourable members to desist from chattering in a manner which makes it difficult for me to hear.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: If Fred Nile would stop attacking gays and women, he would quickly be forgotten and no one would bother going to his provocative demonstrations. But while he represents a threat to the freedom of lifestyle of others, people will continue to stand up to him. I know of another case of a police officer who arrested a 17-year-old at a station who swore when talking privately to her friends. The magistrate in that case would not even accept the guilty plea and threw the case out, complaining that it should never have made it to court. I have often been attacked by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services for what he might call police bashing. I take offence at that. It is an unfortunate fact that particular social groups that do not conform to arbitrary conservative norms are often subjected to humiliating and sometimes violent behaviour at the hands of the police. I do not raise suspect police conduct without substance. After all, the police themselves talk of the mandatory code of silence and that lying is part of police culture. The public want a police force they can have confidence in, a police force that is accountable -
The PRESIDENT: Order! The honourable member's time for speaking has expired.
This does not mean that each individual police officer did what should have been done at the time.