Thursday, 29 December 2016


The National 29 December 2016

I have read a report on Mr Justice Higgins, the judge who found that the refugees incarcerated on Manus Island are held in breach of the PNG Constitution. He has served in the judiciaries of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

I admired his social conscience even before I had finished reading the report. I was interested in his background as an active member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). 

He had been a Branch president. That gave him the touch of social concern that he shows at the present in the refugee issue on Manus Island. 

Refugees and their children are being punished though they have committed no crime. I would expect more from the Australian Government though the refugee smugglers have to be discouraged. The solution is to let innocent people rot behind the wire.

I spent several years as an ALP Branch president which gave me a depth of concern for the ordinary citizen in Australian and Papua New Guinea.

I spent many years in the Australian Army as an army education officer with several legal officers as good friends. 

Military teachers and lawyers are professional officers whom the rest of the army believed could not lead a rat up a drain pipe. 

We had professional integrity and many of us did not see the need to obey orders. But many of us had hidden talents.

Mr Justice Higgins expresses a similar sentiment in stating that judges do not understand the problems of ordinary men and women. We could say that the judges across the nations are insulated from the real world.

As members of a professional service, they have professional integrity and are not strictly part of the chain of command. 

That means that judges all over the world lack the experience in making judgments based on the command and control in bureaucratic systems, particularly in the disciplined services. 

All bureaucracies in democratic countries have protocols that have to be reviewed and improved as problems arise.

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