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Engineering your career building your business
7The Independent Weekly
April 16 - 22, 2010
"South Australians have every
right to be angry," Greens MLC
and lawyer Mark Parnell told The
"We should be angry that despite
clear findings of wrong-doing on
the part of the police, it seems that
no disciplinary action was taken
against the officers involved.
"To make matters worse, the
Government knew that the Police
Complaints Authority had found
against the police, yet Foley and
Wright continued to attack and
denigrate the protesters and
refused to allow any negotiation
over a settlement. The judge
specifically increased the award of
damages to take into account the
fact that the ministers had literally
added insult to injury.
"We should also be angry that
despite everything, there is still no
apology from Foley and Wright,"
Mr Parnell said. "If this is the
new softer, kinder Labor Party,
then heaven help anyone who
finds themselves beaten, sprayed
and unlawfully detained by the
"Ten years ago, our democratic
right to peaceful protest took a hit.
Now the courts have called
the executive to account. If this
government had any moral fibre,
it would admit the mistakes of the
past, make sure it never happens
again, apologise to the victims
and move on. My fear is that the
Government has learned nothing
from this whole sorry episode.
That s a recipe for history to be
Jamie Holland is now shooting
Discover for the Seven network. He
lives, content, in the Adelaide Hills.
At least some of the protesters are
likely to continue to stay in the eco
Brian Walters SC is considering
a future in politics, perhaps as a
candidate for the Greens.
Peter Garrett, the Federal
Minister for the Environment,
used his powers in 2008 under
the Environment Protection
Act to approve the expansion of
Heathgate Resources Beverley
Heathgate this week refused to
comment. "We ve got no comment
and you can t quote me saying
there s no comment," said a
company spokeswoman. "You can t
use my name as saying we have no
The police involved in the bungle
faced no disciplinary action.
And the deputy premier remains
state treasurer and the minister for
police is still the police minister
and the stars above the desert
twinkle still, though less brightly.
The lights at the Beverley mine
now burn throughout the night as
uranium extraction goes on around
the clock, and an artificial day has
replaced the night.
In May 2000, several groups con-
verged on the Beverley uranium
mine to support the local indigenous
people and to oppose mining. On May
9, about 70 people walked quietly and
peacefully onto the land constituting
the uranium lease.
Police reacted with violence.
They drove cars into retreating
They beat protesters with
batons -- including protesters on the
They sprayed fleeing protesters
with capsicum spray, and sprayed
people who had already been
brought to the ground. In one case,
for no good reason, they sprayed
into the rear of a cage car and left
the three young women occupants,
one of whom was an asthmatic,
in the sun for over an hour. They
sprayed an 11-year-old indigenous
girl -- who was legally entitled to be
on the land.
Star Force (ie riot squad) officers
with helmets and shields and
batons, used wedge formations
to drive into retreating protesters
and attack them with shields and
batons, even though they were
leaving the land and obviously
The police targeted anyone who
was filming. This included a Channel
Seven cameraman, and Lucinda
White, who had not been on the land
at all, but stood outside the fence to
film police conduct.
The police then locked 30
prisoners in a shipping container
even though they had no legal basis
for arresting them in the first place.
They held their prisoners for up to
eight hours, giving them no food and
virtually no water in that time.
The Police Complaints Authority
recommended disciplinary charges
against police, but no disciplinary
proceedings were launched.
Not having seen the police made
accountable in any other way, 10
plaintiffs sued for assault and for
false imprisonment. They included
Jamie Holland, the Channel Seven
cameraman, who was locked in
the shipping container, and Helen
Gowans, the 11-year-old indigenous
girl who had been sprayed by police.
Senior ministers in the South
Australian Government publicly
attacked the plaintiffs, calling them
"ferals" and "anarchists" and
accusing them (falsely) of having put
the lives of police at risk. They also
implied that they had deliberately
provoked the police response
in order to claim damages. They
publicly stated that they would not
settle the claim.
The trial lasted four months. All
the plaintiffs gave evidence and they
were cross examined at great length
by senior counsel for the State of
South Australia. All the police gave
evidence. At no stage did police
apologise for their conduct.
On April 9, 2010 -- nine years and
11 months after the incident -- the
Supreme Court of South Australia
awarded the plaintiffs a total of
$724,560 damages, together with
costs yet to be assessed.
The judge was scathing about the
comments of the senior ministers
involved -- Kevin Foley and Michael
Wright. He said that he had
increased the damages because of
those unjustified comments.
We give the police special powers.
We give them equipment which it
would be an offence for anyone else
to possess -- such as capsicum
spray. Where we give people this
power, they must be accountable for
any abuse of that power.
In this case the police, supported
by senior government ministers,
abused that power and broke the law.
Our system of government relies
on the separation of the judicial,
executive, and parliamentary arms
of government, so that each can
bring the other to account. It is a
tribute to the effectiveness of that
system that in this case the judiciary
has called the executive arm of
government to account and required
it to pay substantial damages for its
severe wrongdoing and for the harm
caused to citizens.
-- Brian Walters SC
As it happened
A near-perfect vintage is grinding
to its close, but SA grapegrowers
are reeling from the irony of
their lot. While 2010 is one of the
best-quality harvests in decades,
international oversupply puts
their livelihoods under severe and
In fact, all the numbers are
perfect apart from the price.
The cool, mild weather has
kept natural acids high, perfumes
pretty, colours and tannins
intense, and pH levels easy to
But many growers who were
getting used to $3000 a tonne are
looking at the loss of that last
critical zero this year.
Many vineyards have been left
unpicked; many are available for
sale at ridiculous prices. Some
growers cannot afford to hire a
bulldozer to clear their land for
sale or other uses.
In a real test for the planners,
the SA countryside is set to
undergo a major change of appear-
ance as vineyards disappear.
Tetchy banks will lend you
money to buy your little farmlet
with its home, garage and pool, but
make one mention of the 8ha of
chardonnay and the loan s likely
to evaporate on the desk.
The record heatwave of early
November damaged many vines at
their critical flowering moment,
destroying most of the grenache,
and various other varieties.
But the following weather was
mild and reliable, and most varie-
ties pretty much cruised through
-- only to be worth two-fifths of
Tales of great meanness
continually arise. In McLaren
Vale, growers are enraged that
brokers who offer them $300 per
tonne for fruit that has cost them
twice that much to grow, then have
the audacity to put $150 on their
"They will get my land," one
tormented grower told The
Independent Weekly. "I have
nothing else to do. The bank will
lose patience. My property loses
value every day."
The Beverley uranium mine: scene of the 2000 protest.
Hills alive with
sound of vintage
The Cheltenham Park Residents
Group is facing crippling legal
fees after losing its appeal in the
Full Court of the Supreme Court
against the State Government s
rezoning of Cheltenham Park.
The CPRA has ruled out a
further challenge to the High
Court but says it will continue to
lobby for legislative change.
The association, which is
made up of a group of passionate
western suburbs residents, is now
liable for more than $22,000 in legal
costs and will have to pay 80 per
cent of Government s legal costs,
though no costs were awarded to
the South Australian Jockey Club.
Justice Gray upheld the
original finding that the planning
minister was not required to take
management and flood plain map-
ping into account when approving
The decision means the
controversial Cheltenham Park/St
Clair developments will go ahead,
despite public opposition.
CPRA spokesperson Carol
Faulkner said the outcome was
"For five years we ve been
saying whatever happens you need
to fix the stormwater and flooding
problems first, but here we are
at the end of our legal challenge
and we still have no remedy," Ms
"In the end, the law let us down.
The legislation gave the minister
sole discretion in making his
decision to rezone the Cheltenham
Park Racecourse, as to what
factors were relevant for him
to consider, and what weight he
should give them."
Ms Faulkner said the group
would remain active in lobby-
ing against the development,
specifically in regard to the
Ombudsman s inquiry into the
influence of the State Government
within the Charles Sturt Council.
The State Government said
it would now look to recover
taxpayers money spent defending
"We have long believed the
association would be far better off
working co-operatively to transform
the former racecourse land into an
area that will benefit the people
of Adelaide rather than waste
their time and taxpayers money
on pointless legal challenges,"
Planning and Urban Development
Minister Paul Holloway said. But
Ms Faulkner disagrees.
"We were taking this action on
behalf of the community. In the
end we lost the case, but it was so
important that we went through
the process," she said.
wants law changed
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