Who’s been handing out the “hand shandies” to the Australian selectors?

Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on 14/12/2010

You might think the selection of Michael Beer is an indication that the selectors have unearthed a rare spin bowling talent who will be able to befuddle the so far unbefuddleable English batsmen with spin, drift and bounce on that known spin bowling assisting wicket at the WACA.

You might think that Michael Beer was the best spinner going around at the time the selectors sat down to choose the time for the 3rd Test.

You might think that the selectors had Michael Beer in their sights for a long time and that he was the next cab off the rank after Doherty.

You might think all is above-board and there are no “selector’s couches” in Australian Cricket.

You’d be wrong.

On 5, 6 and 7 November, the English touring team played Western Australia. Beer took 5 wickets at over 5 and over. His results were so good, that the selectors decided to overlook him for the Australia A team. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Australia A should be filled with players who are next in line for selection should the incumbents fail?

Bearing that in mind, the selectors chose two spinners to play for Australia A against the English: Steven Smith and the left arm offspinner, Steven O’Keefe. Steven Smith was picked for his batting more than his bowling, but the selection of O’Keefe was as the main spinner in the side. In that game which started on 17 November, O’Keefe returned the admirable figures of 4 for 88 in the first innings, the only innings on which he bowled, and gave away fewer runs per over than the other bowlers, apart from Clint McKay. As an added bonus, he scored 66 and 27.

At the same time, playing for Western Australia, Beer took three wickets in two innings against Victoria. Compelling stuff. He again took three wickets in two innings against New South Wales a couple of weeks later. A game in which, bizarrely, O’Keefe didn’t play. Even more bizarrely, O’Keefe hasn’t played first class cricket since the Australia A game, where he took the most wickets and top scored in the first innings.

The reality is the decision to pick Michael Beer flies in the face of the maxim that you pick the best 11 running around in the domestic competition. Which leads me to suspect that something is not kosher. O’Keefe, selected for Australia A, outperforms with bat and ball and disappears from first class cricket. Beer, a handful of wickets and an average average, gets the nod.

Perhaps someone has been only to willing to give the selectors the odd “hand shandy”. And it isn’t O’Keefe.


Australian selectors unearth the next great Australia spin bowler!

Posted in Cricket, Sport by Chris on 12/12/2010

Andrew Hilditch and Greg Chappell rush to the burial place of Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly after reports that he was turning in his grave

Small animals beware: an Adelaide Oval tragedy unfolds

Posted in Cricket, Sport by Chris on 11/12/2010

Do you remember that urban legend that went around many years ago? About how someone knew someone who knew someone who had heard that someone had taken a small animal, let’s say a guinea pig or a ferret, wrapped it in gaffer tape, and had sex with it? Apparently the gaffer tape was used to stop the animal exploding!

Anyway, during the 5 days of the second test at the Adelaide Oval, the Australian Cricket team was that gaffer bound small animal. And when I say gaffer bound, I mean that literally. I don’t mean that various players were having their limbs and other parts held together by gaffer tape, though that may be the case for Simon Katich. No, I mean literally in the way a Masterchef contestant uses the word. In other words, not literally at all, but rather figuratively, or metaphorically. That kind of ‘literally’.

So what happened at the Adelaide Oval was that a mean and sexually depraved English Cricket Team wrapped the Australian Cricket Team in gaffer tape and rogered it sadistically and senselessly for 4 days and 90 minutes of one session, before the gaffer tape gave way and the inner workings of the Aussies was exposed and laid bare for the world to see.

The gaffer tape was dangerously close to giving way within the first few minutes of day one, when Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke all came and went even before Tony Greig had a chance to make an inappropriate comment about the reason an Anglo-Saxon male was marrying a woman of Asian descent.

Only the careful surgical like precision of Mike Hussey was able to sew the small wounded animal back together and apply an extra layer of the ‘tape’. However, Marcus North once again provided us with his impression of Ricky Ponting’s ‘special’ cousin, whom Ponting had been forced by his mother to bring to the party, and helped England to continue to sexually violate a small, defenceless animal.

Now the Australian selectors have stepped in to provide us with their best impression of all round nice guy, perennial hat wearer and TV vet, Doctor Harry. They have either attempted to save the pet, replace it with a new one so similar that the children won’t notice, or replace it with a better, stronger and more resourceful animal, in the process teaching the children a valuable lesson about the fleeting and fragile nature of life, the universe and everything.

Which one will it be? Is it a case of stitching up the animal, only for it to be savagely violated again at Perth? Is this a new one, so similar to the first, that the same wounds will open again and lay bare the intestines of Australian cricket for all to see? Or is the new team a wolf, wild and untamed, able to hunt in a pack, which will tear the English players a new one?

One thing is for sure. Michael Beer has a great name for the marketing of some kind of alcoholic beverage. Can you guess which one?

It’s time to storm Cricket Australia headquarters and demand some answers until they answer our demands

Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on 05/12/2010

Another day, another three hundred runs, another number of wickets you could count on one hand even if you’d already lost three fingers in an unfortunate band saw accident.

Although the second day of the Second Test at Adelaide was an improvement for Australia in terms of number of wickets lost when compared to the fourth day at the Gabba, the awful first innings batting performance meant that by the end of day two they were so far behind that England seem almost assured of a win. At the very least, an Australian win must be about as likely as Kim Beazly donning budgie smugglers.

There are a couple of unanswered questions regarding these two test matches. They are Simon Katich and Michael Clarke. As in, why hasn’t Ricky bowled these two at all. If they’re injured, I understand, but surely Ricky or Tim Nielsen should come out and say why he is not bowling them if that is the reason. If they are not injured and can bowl, then we should have concerns about Ricky Ponting as a captain (which I think a lot of us do these days anyway). If they are injured, then perhaps they shouldn’t have been selected. But either way, Australian cricket fans and follows are entitled to know why Ricky and the team leadership are not trying everything they can to get a wicket and win an elusive test match.

It’s not like they could do any worse. Doug Bollinger went for more than 5 runs per over. Xavier Doherty went for just under 5 runs per over. I know Bollinger can bowl better, but I can’t say the same about Doherty. He averages 48.86 runs per wicket at first class level. Worse still, his strike rate is a wicket every 86 balls. He is not even economical going at 3.40 runs per over. And this is at First Class level. By comparison, Marcus North has the figures 41.26, 81.5 and 3.03. And since Marcus North isn’t scoring runs, why on earth do we need two spinners that don’t really get many wickets nor contain many batsmen.

Australian cricket is in a pretty low place at the moment. It should be the job of the selectors to give us a team that has a chance of winning, or at least competing. Never forget that this is OUR team and the selectors have their jobs at OUR pleasure. Kind of. Anyway, I want them to think about their selections from now on. So, Hildick and Co, listen up!

Let’s look at some of the candidates for the job of spinner. To me, there are two that standout, even if they don’t have much experience.

The first is the left arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe from NSW. Currently he averages 24.83 and has a strike rate of 47.6, with an economy of 3.12. He has only played 10 first class matches but he has already taken 37 wickets. And he is almost 26 years of age. He also averages over 50 with the bat in first class cricket. A much better bet than either North or Doherty I think.

The second one might not be ready yet, but he is an exciting prospect from Queensland. His name is Cameron Boyce and he is a legspinner. And he is a big turning legspinner. Boyce took 6 for 181 in 44 overs in an innings in the Sheffield Shield final against Victoria last year, where Victoria scored 591. He may not be ready for a while, but he also might be worth a punt if things get too dire.

Also, let’s not forget Jason Krejza, who took 8 in an innings and twelve in a match on debut. His figures are better than Doherty’s, though not by much, but at least he can turn a ball, which is probably important for a spin bowler. And there is Cullen Bailey as well, a 25 year old legspinner who seems to have been forgotten by all except the most committed cricket fan. His figures are also better than Doherty’s.

In terms of fast bowling, there are also plenty of good candidates around. Josh Hazelwood is not yet 20, but he has impressed in his few first class appearances and at the under 19 World Cup. But for a stress fracture in his back, he probably would have made his test debut in India this year. He could be the next Glen McGrath.

James Pattinson from Victoria is another exciting prospect who is unfortunately currently out with injury. There there is Mitchell Starc, the tall left armer who has already played an ODI for Australia, and Mark Cameron, who recently played for Australia A. Throw in Peter George from South Australia who has already played a test and the future of fast bowling in Australia looks healthy.

But if the selectors want to take a punt on someone and slot them straight into the team, I wouldn’t go past Trent Copeland. He has had an amazing time since coming into first class cricket last year, where he took 8 for 92 in his first first class innings against Queensland, and took 10 for the match. In only 18 innings he has passed 4 wickets 6 times and 5 wickets for times. He has 57 wickets in 9 matches and averages under 20, with a strike rate of only 41 and an economy rate of 2.65. Why would you want to waste form like this?

Of course, the Australian selectors won’t take the kind of risks that are paramount right now, and pick some young, exciting players. When it comes to conservativeness, they make Tony Abbott look like Bob Brown.

But they need to keep a couple of facts in mind. Shane Warne was only 22 when he made his debut. Glen McGrath was only 23.

… and now for this week’s stupid comment on global warming.

Posted in Climate Change, Media by Chris on 13/11/2010

I consider myself of middling intelligence, maybe slightly above average. I am nothing special, except maybe for the fact that I possess a large quantity of common sense, even if I say so myself. Sometimes I expect others to also exercise common sense. Only a small amount is required. One group of people who fail to exercise common sense on a regular basis are the so-called climate skeptics, or using the more accurate term, climate change denialists.

Today I received a forwarded email message. The person who forwarded the original message to me added the phrase “I wonder to (sic)”. The original message contained the following:

Quote from CEO of Ryan Air, Michael O'Leary

Now, I’m no expert in this area. Not even a self-appointed one. But even I can see the flaws in this statement. To name a few:

  1. Meteorologists and climatologists are not the same thing. The people who provide us with weather forecasts do not provide us with studies on long-term trends in changes in climate.
  2. Meteorologists generally predict the weather rather well. It is a fallacy that they always get the weather wrong. I’m sure that if you compared their daily forecasts with the actual results, you’d find a fairly strong correlation. Otherwise they’d be out of a job.
  3. TV weatherpersons are not always meteorologists. Just because you see it on TV, doesn’t mean that they are reporting accurately what the real meteorologists are saying. Practice a little critical thinking when watching TV.
  4. Weather is not climate. Weather refers to localised events over relatively short periods of time. Climate refers to the whole closed system in which the earth exists, and climate change is concerned with long-term trends.
  5. Ryan Air is an enterprise that you could hardly consider a success story. Perhaps the level of intelligence of the CEO is an indication of why.
  6. On the other hand, it is in the interest of any airline to downplay the significance of global warming, considering that flying contributes to the problem.
  7. Climatologists and other scientists in this field do not claim to be able to tell us global temperature in 100 years with absolute precision. They give us a range. The IPCC gives us a range.

Let’s hope you don’t have to ever get on a plane with this guy.

The problem is that people will take this statement, from a guy who runs an airline, and runs it badly, as evidence that there is no global warming.

Electing Judges

Posted in Law, Media, Politics by Chris on 13/11/2010

Tony Abbott is not a man to let an idea go to waste. It doesn’t matter to him that the idea is beyond the pale in its ridiculousness. It doesn’t matter to him that the idea has been rejected by greater minds than his. It doesn’t matter to him that the idea is a reality in a country where litigation is rife, where people sue as easily as they change their clothes, where lawyers feed like sharks on the misery of people’s lives. It doesn’t matter to Tony Abbott, because all that matters to Tony Abbott is power.

We know that Tony Abbott will introduce policies that he was once publicly and vehemently opposed to. We know that Tony Abbott will lie when put on the spot. We know that Tony Abbott will flip-flop and backstab for his own political gain. We’ve seen all of this in the last twelve months so nothing should surprise us.

And so Abbott’s statement this week that if judges and magistrates keep getting it wrong and keep handing down lenient sentences, then the only possible outcome of this is a move towards an elected judiciary, is not earth shattering in any way. It doesn’t matter that it involves misrepresenting the role and power of the judiciary. It doesn’t matter that it misrepresents the facts. What matters to Abbott is that it plays on society’s fears and biases. As far as Abbott is concerned, it’s a vote winner. So therefore it must be right.

One of the things that Abbott forgets, or fails to mention, is that when it comes to sentencing, judges and magistrates are constrained by legislation on what sentences they pass and what factors they take into consideration when passing those sentences. For example, in New South Wales, judges and magistrates pass sentences with reference to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. Section 5(1) of that act states:

A court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, having considered all possible alternatives, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate.

So from the start, the magistrate or judge sentencing a convicted criminal must already bear in mind that according to legislation, which they are bound by, imprisonment is a last resort.

The same Act also provides judges and magistrates with a raft of alternatives to imprisonment. There are community service orders, good behaviour bonds, suspended sentences, fines, intensive correction orders, place restriction orders, supervision orders, or a combination of two or more. The appropriateness of each of these alternatives must be considered before a judge or magistrate can impose a sentence of imprisonment.

The Act also provides that a judge or magistrate has to take into consideration aggravating factors, mitigating factors and other factors which relate to the seriousness of the offence. All of these things can impact the type and nature of the sentence passed, and should a judge or magistrate ignore any of these factors, their decision is left open to change on appeal. The list of aggravating and mitigating factors is long, and an indication of the difficult process a judge or magistrate must go through before passing sentence. It is a difficult process, because it impacts many lives.

Magistrates and judges can’t move outside of these guidelines and impose harsher and tougher sentences just because they feel the weight of the community’s expectations. If they did, then more convicted people would be successfully appealing sentences. More appeals means greater costs and more time given over to appeals. More time given over to appeals means less time given over to other matters, which would only exacerbate the current community concerns over the slowness of the justice system in this country, concerns that are, in my opinion, legitimate.

None of the above is to suggest that judges and magistrates don’t get things wrong and sometimes deliver sentences that are too lenient. But in the same way that a convicted person has a right to appeal the harshness of a sentence, so does the prosecutor the leniency of a sentence. The difference between the current system and the one proposed by Tony Abbott is that judges and magistrates can now make their decisions without worrying about their jobs, more or less, whereas if they were elected, they would have to perform for, let’s face it, an employer (ie, the voters) who has no real interest in what they do and is unwilling to take the time to investigate the quality of their decisions.

The real problem with Tony Abbott’s statement, is that it lays the blame for alleged lenient sentencing on the judiciary when in fact, if there is any criticism of sentencing then it should be directed towards the drafters and passers of the legislation which constrains, restricts, and directs, to a considerable extent, how judges and magistrates sentence. In other words, politicians. Of which Tony Abbott is one of the most prominent.

If Tony Abbott was really serious about community concern over the leniency of sentencing he should do two things. The first is to make sure that those community concerns are based in reality. If they are not, and I suspect they are not, he should be doing all he can to educate the community as to why the current sentencing systems and the sentences they deliver are appropriate.

If the community concerns are based in reality, then he should be agitating for legislative change on a state and, if necessary, federal level, so that judicial guidelines result in appropriate sentences.

The thing that Tony Abbott should not do is criticise judges and magistrates for passing lenient sentences, knowing full when that their discretionary powers are limited by legislation, just to feed community hysteria.

Which is exactly what he is doing.

What is the point of having an elected judiciary, when you can just change the legislation to force them to deliver tougher sentences? Changing the legislation only requires a majority in any given parliament to agree. Moving towards an elected judiciary requires constitutional change and a referendum.

There is a great benefit for Tony Abbott and the Coalition in this move. Harsher sentencing means fewer people able to vote, who probably lean towards Labor. It also portrays Tony Abbott as a man of action, who listens to the people and understands their concerns. It’s his favourite role, after all.

There is no benefit for the rest of us. It can only lead to a poorer judiciary and greater infringements on our civil liberties. And if Tony Abbott can make this kind of call, what’s next? A call to reintroduce the death penalty?

With Tony Abbott, it can only be a matter of time.

The Ashes are already lost. Time to look to the future

Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on 06/11/2010

Australia’s second consecutive loss to Sri Lanka, the first series loss to them on home soil, as well as their 9th consecutive loss in all forms of the game confirms a suspicion that many commentators and fans of the game have held: that there is a deep malaise in Australian cricket at this time. It is not only the losses themselves that are dispiriting, but it is also the nature of some of the losses that must have the selectors scratching their heads. Australia are struggling to close out games that they are in a prime position to win.

This problem goes back as far as the last test in India of Australia’s 2008 tour there. Rather than go on the attack with his fast men when the Indian’s were vulnerable, Ponting instead chose to bowl his part timers to keep up the over rate. Result? A win to India.

Move on to the Melbourne test against South Africa in late 2008. South Africa were in tatters in that game until a JP Duminy and Dale Steyn partnership saw South Africa take a previously undreamt of lead and go on to win the test. Australia did manage to win the following test in Sydney, but only just, and it is a match well-remembered for the countdown to the final ball, South Africa hanging on, the storm clouds threatening to curtail the match, a brave Graeme Smith batting with a broken hand, before the final wicket fell in the nick of time.

Fast forward to the first test of the Ashes 2009, and this time Australia dragged defeat so close to the edge of the jaws of victory that a small nudge from Paul Collingwood, James Anderson and (a most unlikely hero in) Monty Panesar saw victory snatched away from them. It is a match that Australia never should have lost, and it contained some confusing tactics from the captain regarding his bowlers. A win in the first test would have set up the Australian’s nicely for the series. Instead the loss gave all the momentum to the English.

Back again in India, in the first test in the 2010 two test series between the two teams, Australia failed to remove a known bunny in Ishant Sharma and take advantage of an injured Laxman, and win a test that was theirs for the taking. Instead, they allowed India to record an historic one wicket win.

On home soil, the trend has continued. In the first one dayer against Sri Lanka, the visiting team were 8/107 at one stage, chasing 240. Yet somehow, Australia managed to lose this match as well.

It’s hard to know exactly what the problem is. Sure, there are some underperformers currently in the team, but the fact that they are putting themselves in winning positions is an indication that Australia has some good players and a relatively strong line up. Perhaps getting rid of some of the older players, such as Hussey for example, might make a difference, but the nature of these losses indicates that there is a deeper problem.

The team leadership group of Ponting, Clarke and Nielsen needs to be put under a microscope. I’ve always thought that Ponting and Clarke were the best men for the captaincy and vice-captaincy, but lately I have my doubts. There is no doubt that Ponting leads from the front and is a courageous batsman. The problem is he does not appear to be a courageous tactician. His use of the bowlers and field placements can sometimes be bewildering. He appears to be at a loss as to how to use a spinner since Warne and McGill left the scene. He constantly underbowls new bowlers in his team, relying instead on the increasingly desperate Mitchell Johnson, or the never quite threatening enough Peter Siddle. He sets defensive fields when defending 200 in a test. He hesitates in using part timers like Katich and Clarke until it is almost too late. Who cares if they don’t want to bowl? Who’s the captain?

Clarke is a different matter. He is a quality batsman but untested as a leader. The great concern is that he doesn’t have the backing of his players. The well publicised stoush with Katich and recent murmurings certainly put pressure on his future as captain. As for Nielsen, I struggle to see what he is bringing to the team. As far as I can see, his main role is to say to the press, “This is not the time to panic” whenever Australia lose.

Well if NOW is not the time to panic, I don’t know when that time will be.

The selectors are another group that have struggled to make the tough, and right, decisions, but one hopes that with the addition of Greg Chappell, and the exclusion of Merv Hughes, there may be some more astute selections. Personally, I don’t think that they need to look past the New South Wales team, but I will leave my biases aside.

There is an Ashes series coming up, which Australia is likely to lose. The question for the selectors is, “Do we want to lose this Ashes and the next, or just this one?” Because if they want to win the next one, now is the time to start making changes and injecting some fresh blood in the team.

Now, I know Johnson was one of the leading wicket takers not so long ago, but there is something not right with him. It may be his captains don’t know how to use him, or it may be a problem within himself. Either way, notwithstanding all his obvious talents, he is a liability that Australia can no longer afford to carry.

There are plenty of other good young fast bowlers around who could step in. Peter George from South Australia has already had his debut and looks promising for the future. Queensland has a stack of talented young fast bowlers who, in a few years, will be ready for selection. Doug the rug should come back soon, and he is far more important to the team than Johnson. Josh Hazelwood is a Glen McGrath of the future, but he could be selected now and do a fine job.

The middle order is a problem and the problem comes from Western Australia. Neither Hussey or North inspire confidence and both should go. That would leave the team without a Western Australian, but until the curator of the WACA can start producing lively pitches again, batsman from that part of the world will struggle to offer something to a team. Usman Khawaja or White and Callum Ferguson should come in for them.

The bigger problem is obviously the spinner. It is unbelievable that Hauritz is still the preferred option. No offence to the guy, but he is nowhere near good enough. The Australian selectors have given him a chance and he has failed to deliver. Apart from some easy wickets against the West Indies and (a now suspect) Pakistan, he hasn’t won a match for Australia or made a substantial contribution. He is not in the top five bowlers in Australia, and he would struggle to be in the top five spinners.

A much better option would be Steven O’keefe from New South Wales. He has a good record at first class level, averaging below 30, and he is the only spinner currently in Australia (Haurtiz included) who does average below 30 at state level. He also averages over 50 with the bat. Now, he has only played nine first class games, so it is early days. Yet in those games, his contributions have been significant and have changed their direction. Of course there are the Tasmanian pairing of Krezja and Doherty. Krezja has been badly treated by the selectors. It is a credit to him that he keeps trying. He is a big spinner of the ball and has experimented with a non-doosra doosra. Doherty looks a good one day bowler but may not be test quality. He’s got to be better than Hauritz though. He looks like an intelligent and confident bowler.

When it comes to the captaincy, it is a difficult issue. Ponting and Clarke should be in the test team, no doubt. But if neither is captain, who should be? For me, it should be White or Haddin. If White is good enough to be in the team, which I do not yet concede, then he would be a good choice. He has captained Victoria to many great feats since he was 22. If White is not there, then Haddin is an option. He has captained New South Wales to wins in all forms of the game and he when he bats he throws caution to the wind, much like Gilchrist and Warne. He is a risk taker, and the taking of risks has been lacking in the Australian team for some time.

The most important thing for Australia is to look beyond these Ashes. They need to ensure they are in the top four so they qualify for the Test Championship. They need to ensure that good young players start to get some exposure, and that older and out of form players are not given chance after chance after chance, sapping the confidence of the next rank that they’ll ever get a run.

In short, they need to make me a selector.

You must be joking?

Posted in Media, Sport by Chris on 14/10/2010

It seems these days that you only need glance at the newspapers or flick on the TV news to see another story about some sportsman or another being accused of sexual assault. The veracity of these allegations have or may be tested in court and I know enough about the law to keep my mouth shut regarding the relevant guilt or innocence of the alleged offenders. But what I do want to write about are the comments coming from many in the media criticising the women (or in some cases, girls) involved, and defending the men.

Frankly, I think most of these commentators show a distinct lack of empathy, decency, common sense, and general knowledge of some fairly fundamental and basic legal concepts. They lack empathy because they fail reflect on the difficult circumstances that the women are placed in and assume that these women must be loose or sluts. The lack decency because they fail to do the right thing, which is to shut their mouths and wait for the legal system to sort it out. They lack common sense because they fail to realise that their comments will be taken in context (as opposed to out of context as they invariably complain) and be controversial (unless you want to be controversial, as per Miranda Devine). They lack a general knowledge of basic legal concepts, or purposely ignore them, because we should all know, by now, that consent is not simply a yes or no proposition. If you listen to some of these unqualified commentators, you would assume that if a women dresses in a certain way, or travels to a certain destination with a man, they are giving that man consent to have sex with them. But sex isn’t contract law.

It is this last point about consent that I have a problem with. Let’s go through some of the comments that have attracted media attention. First there is Peter “Spida” Everitt. Everitt tweeted:

“Yet another alleged girl, making alleged allegations, after she awoke with an alleged hangover and I take it an alleged guilty conscience”


“Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO! Allegedly……”

Everitt appears to assume that the woman in question, and women who accuse footballers, do so because they regret sleeping with them, not because they believe they have been sexually assaulted. If Everitt bothered to educate himself before shooting his mouth off, he would come to realise that cases of sexual assault are underreported and that convictions are difficult to come by. So would a woman put herself through the pain and humiliation of an investigation and hearing because she was embarrassed about sleeping with someone? To me it seems unlikely, and I have to wonder why anyone would think otherwise.

But the worse thing that Everitt does is to place the responsibility all in the hands of women. He is saying that women who go home with men at 3am when they are intoxicated are responsible for what happens next, not the men themselves. In other words, men are entitled to be completely abrogated from the consequences of their actions if they are able to get a drunk woman in their bed in the early hours of the morning. Of course, what he is really saying is, they asked for it. His comments are no better than the raw meat comments of Sheik Hilali, but with less condemnation.

Then there was Kerri Anne Kennerly (or KAK: a fitting acronym). Interviewing Everitt, she said that footballers, “put themselves in harm’s way by picking up strays”. This is a pretty judgmental comment from KAK. It is also completely the wrong way around. Footballers are not in harm’s way. There is always this talk about damage to reputations when allegations are made, but can we just put this myth to bed? What damage, exactly, has Matthew Johns suffered, for example? I can’t think of any sportsman who has been accused of sexual assault or rape, but not found guilty by a court, who to this day suffers as a result. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

The people in harm’s way are the women, and, yes, they may be putting themselves in harm’s way when they drink to excess and go home with a footballer. But that doesn’t mean that the man is any less responsible for what he does next. Nor does the fact that the man was intoxicated reduce his culpability in these situations. In NSW, the Crimes Act specifically precludes a defence of intoxication where the person self-administered the alcohol. I believe the situation in Victoria may be similar (again, feel free to correct me if I am wrong). However, both Everitt and KAK have decided that, notwithstanding the law, men should not be responsible for the actions when they are drunk.

KAK’s comments were clarified by her network, which released a statement saying, “The responsibility lies with the girls as well as with the guys when you’re talking about alcohol-fuelled situations at three o’clock in the morning.”
This should be a salutary warning to all of us. If you drink, not only does that diminish the culpability of anyone that subsequently rapes or sexually assaults you, but it also means that if you are mugged, assaulted, run over or murdered, the perpetrator can use the well know defence of, “”Well I may have killed him your Honour, but HE was drunk”. It’s all bull shit of course.

Over on his blog Ben Pobjie’s Wonderful World of Objects , Ben Pobjie provided an easy to follow guide for not raping. I urge you to read it, not only because Ben Pobjie is extremely funny, but because it contains an important, and commonly missed, message: not raping is not that hard. Even more to the point of this post, you should read some of the comments, particularly made by those who choose an “anonymous” title. It is apparent from some that the whole media focus of blaming women for being drunk when they are raped or sexually assaulted is having an impact on the general public. For example,

How does it work if the dude is also drunk? Surely if she is absolved of having given consent because she is drunk then he is likewise absolved of taking advantage of the situation.

The problem with this comment is that the maker doesn’t recognise that not giving consent can be a passive act, whereby having sex, no matter how out of it you are, is an active act. Why doesn’t the commenter recognise this fact? I would have thought it was pretty simple.

From the same commenter:

What would happen if a guy woke up the next morning and was like “I didn’t really want to do that, she raped me.” and he went to the cops, he’d be laughed out of the station.

Unfortunately, that might happen. However, that doesn’t make it right, and in fact the man would have just as much right to claim he was sexually assaulted, or at least indecently assaulted. The fact that the implementing and the policing of the law can discriminate based on gender, does not mean that the law itself discriminates.

How about this:

But are we seriously saying that a drunk woman is incapable of making a decision about consent, but an equally drunk man is capable of making a decision for both people?

Nope. We are not saying that a drunk woman is incapable of making a decision about consent. What we are saying is that a woman who is intoxicated may not be in a position to give consent. It really isn’t that hard. If a woman is slurring her words, her eyes are half open, if she’s stumbling around and struggling to stay upright, chances are she is in no fit state to consent. If a man can’t see that then he is clearly brain damaged. Nor are we saying an equally drunk man is capable of making a decision for both people. He is only capable of making a decision for himself. But he has two decisions to make. Decision one is, “Should I drink so much that I might do something wrong and illegal?” And decision two is, “Should I have sex with this woman/man?”

Q and A on Monday had a predominately sport themed panel and of course this issue was raised. Some of the opinions aired leave a lot to be desired, which in a way is good, because the more often we hear these outdated ideas of diminished responsibility, the more opportunities we get to tear it to shreds (Twitter is a remarkably useful tool in that regard). I can’t remember exactly what each member of the panel (consisting of Roy Masters, Lisa Forrest, Kelly O’Dwyer, Mark Arbib and Geoff Lawson) said specifically, but if I show you some of my tweets, you may get an idea:

Yes, women. Listen to the panel. You must never, ever, drink. That is for men. So saith the panel #qanda

Alcohol is not the problem. Cock heads are the problem #qanda

If sex is a way sportsmen bond, why can’t they just have sex with each other? #qanda

Let’s blame the bad behaviour on the arseholes behaving badly #qanda

I hate to be repetitive, but isn’t it up to the arseholes to stop being arseholes? #qanda

Obviously, then, some on the panel were under the impression that sportsmen, when alcohol is involved, apparently have no control over themselves and we, as society, should recognise that. Women, they seem to be saying, should not put themselves in these situations. And the relevant sporting bodies, they also seem to be saying, should assert some control over their players’ behaviours.

This is all bad enough, and sportsmen and women, and media personalities alike, really should know and do know better. But I think that some of the statements that have come from the commentators and commenters I’ve referred to above stem from ignorance and laziness. The same cannot be said of the next one.

Today, Miranda Devine’s blog refers to an incident from a Sydney Catholic school. Three schoolboys were expelled from said school because of a complaint made by a thirteen year old fellow female student that they touched her breast. Another girl made a similar allegation. The boys, says Devine, claim it was consensual.

This raises an interesting question of consent. Consent to sexual intercourse cannot be given by a 13 or 14 year old. But touching someone’s breast is not sexual intercourse. If the person performing that act was to be charged with anything, it would most likely be indecent assault, or an act of indecency. Consent of a person under 16 years of age is not a defence to indecent assault, but it can be a defence to an act of indecency. Of course, in this case we are talking about boys aged 14 years or less, and charging anyone of that age is difficult. Not only would a prosecutor have to prove they had the intention to commit the act and that they committed the act, but also that they had the knowledge that what they are doing is wrong (criminal lawyers can correct me if I have stated this incorrectly).

But the criminality or otherwise of these acts should not be the topic of conjecture. Let the police deal with that. What has happened is that the three boys have been expelled, and that is a choice open to the relevant school. Expulsion is neither indicative of, nor should be taken as an admission of, an offence having been committed.

What I have a problem with is the tone of Devine’s article. She can write, if she wishes, that she thinks the boys have been treated unfairly. But that’s not what she does. Rather, she victimises the girls. She places the boys on a pedestal, pointing out that they are handsome, and excellent rugby league players. As if these are qualities of innocence. In doing this she demeans the alleged victims and calls into question their character. By describing the boys as she has done, she is saying to us that they are popular, and it is not surprising that these girls want their attention. It’s only when the boys give them that attention, then cast them aside, that they scream for justice.

Devine’s article is based mostly on the statements of the parent of at least one of the boys. We never get to hear the girl’s side of the story. But there is a familiar theme here. A young girl, in the presence of handsome, athletic, young men, is coerced into performing an act, or allowing something to be done to her. It sounds all too familiar.

Devine should know better. Unlike Everitt, KAK and some on the Q and A panel, I suspect Devine know what she is writing is bullshit. But she is a hired gun, brought back to News Ltd to be controversial. She is neither misguided, nor ignorant, nor lazy. She is purposeful in her unfair attack on girls who are barely teenagers. Does she know what impact the event will have on those girls? Does she care? She really should be ashamed of herself.

Too often these days, sportsmen, and other celebrities, behave badly, even commit crimes, and shrug it off as the normal actions of one of the lads. They cry poor me, saying they have a problem with alcohol, or they had a troubled childhood, or the woman was throwing herself at me. What’s wrong with taking responsibility for your own actions. Why can’t just one of them, rather than saying “I have a problem with alcohol”, instead say, “I am a dickhead. Treat me as such.” Of course, it won’t happen while the media offers them support and attacks the real victims.

Tony Abbott’s Action Contract: all talk and no action (or contract)

Posted in Politics by Chris on 20/08/2010

On the Liberal Party website, you can download their action contract. So I tried to, sucker for punishment that I am. But, typical of the Libs approach to technology, the link didn’t seem to be working. Clearly current internet speeds are fast enough for the Libs. Wouldn’t want anyone getting hold of too much information too fast. However, I was able to get hold of the document by posing as a 73 year old matronly preacher’s wife. Sure, there were some unsavoury acts to perform, but as a lapsed catholic I can handle that sort of thing.

As a lawyer, having had something to do with the odd contract over the years, I thought it might be worth passing my educated eyes over it, see whether it is actually a contract, and if it is, would it be enforceable.

First, let’s look at the document. Assuming I’ve got the right thing, it doesn’t look like much. I’m used to contracts running for 10, 20 50 or 100 pages, but those are the ones that are prepared by professionals. What the Action Contract looks like is one of those backyard jobs put together by a couple of mates who want to put their idea for a pyramid scheme legitimate business into writing, and end up losing their houses, their families, and their nuts. But, as an adherent of plain language legal drafting, I shouldn’t complain too much. As the saying goes, keep it simple Tony stupid.

So, if size doesn’t matter, what have we got. Well, a for a contract to be a contract, it needs to have a couple of things. First you need an offer. What Tony is doing is offering us his 12 point plan.And in that 12 point plan, he is offering to do things. We will get to those 12 things later, but for now, let’s accept that the offer is on the table. “I will do these things if you vote for me”.

A contract also needs an acceptance of the offer. Now you well may say that voting for Tony is an acceptance of his offer. Good point. But I can guarantee that not everyone will vote for Tony. Yet, if this is a contract, then even those who do not vote for Tony will be bound by it, by virtue of the fact that he is the Prime Minister and he will put his action plan into play (we presume). So, a large group of Australians, who did not accept his offer, will be bound by the contract, as well as those who did not or cannot vote, such as children, some prisoners, and Mark Latham. Now, this breaches the rules about privity of contract, so already Abbott’s in deep trouble (or we are) with this contract.

But we can look past that for argument sake. We have an offer and acceptance. What we need now is consideration. Consideration, does not have to be a good bargain (which is just as well in this case) but it has to be reasonable. In this case the consideration can be votes and power. We give Tony something of value (votes and power) and he gives us something of value. I am yet to figure out what that will be, but let’s start with “a good laugh”.

So, accepting we have a contract, what sort of a contract have we got? Well, I’m sorry to say, it’s got more holes than a hole convention at a swiss cheese factory.

Promise number on is to start paying Labor’s debt. Start? As far as contractual terms go, this one fraught with danger. If I sign a contract to purchase land, I don’t agree to start buying the land, or start paying you for it. “I agree to start to pay for your goods, but watch out. I could stop paying at any time!” So this part of the Action Contract is unenforceable because it is absolutely meaningless.

Promise number two? End Labor’s waste and restore cabinet government. Well, the first part is a given if the Liberals win. They might start their own waste but there is no doubt they will end Labor’s. But that is hardly a service that can be traded. That’s like me saying I’ll buy your car, and as part of the bargain, I’ll stop you from owning it. And as for restoring cabinet government? Well, this is not something defined in the Constitution, so for all we know what Labor has been doing has been sufficient to qualify as cabinet government.

This contract is looking pretty shaky.

Promise number 3? Reject Labor’s massive new mining tax and other taxes that hurt productivity. Now, while the use of the word “massive” in a contract is novel in my experience, I’ll let that one through, because it is quantifiable. But then again, maybe it isn’t. This is not something they will do, but something they won’t do. Ah, what the hell. You can promise not to do something in a contract and so not having a massive new mining tax is appropriate. So would the rest be, if it was clearer. But because it doesn’t spell out what taxes it refers to, with the effect on productivity debatable, I think we would have to say that this part would be unenforceable.

Promises numbered 4, and 6 to 12 are reasonable I guess. They involved some sort of positive action on the part of the Libs. Well, positive action may be stretching things a bit. Actually, apart from the 6 months paid parental leave, they’re all things a government should do anyway. These should be implied terms in the contract, and they don’t need to be made expressly.

Of course, the one that gets a lot of the attention and a lot of the heat is number 5. Enforce strict border security and control. Know in the dance clubs as “Stop the boats”. Actually, they are two different things, with a lot less border leakage taking place on the high seas than occurs at our airports (though we know that already don’t we). But what about this promise as a contractual term? For a start, it may suffer from some form of illegality. Turning back boats may breach internationally recognised laws of the sea. Temporary protection visas may breach Australia’s international obligations, as will rigorous processing, if it means what I think it means (letting fewer brown people through). So if those parts are illegal, they will be unenforceable.

What it is also promising to do is change the nature of something that it does not have the control over it would have us believe. Perhaps the change in policy from Liberal to Labor had some effect, but there can be no doubt that international forces have been a greater factor in the number of boats coming in, which is something that Abbott can’t control. So when he can’t stop the flow of boats, will he be in breach of contract?

That final point brings us to an obvious question: if this is a contract and Tony Abbott fails to deliver, what then? Well relax, it’s not a real contract. And even if it is, most of its terms are not enforceable and as such severable (that is removable) from the contract, leaving it an empty vessel, much like its author. But if I’m wrong, and it is an enforceable contract, just think of the fun we can have taking Abbott’s arse to court for breach. A small glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark campaign I think.

Howard’s treatment by the ICC should not surprise anyone

Posted in Cricket, Politics by Chris on 01/07/2010

John Howard’s bid to be the next Vice President of the International Cricket Council received a telling blow yesterday when six of the nine test playing nations voted against the move. While Australia, New Zealand and England were in favour of the appointment, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and the West Indies all rejected it.

There are many naysaying this decision in the media today. Peter Roebuck, who was initially against the idea of Howard being put up for the role and preferred the New Zealand candidate Sir John Anderson, claims that in spite of this, Howard would have been a force for good offering the ICC the prospect of someone who might “ask awkward questions”. That may have been the case. However, it is also possible that, having regard to his inexperience in cricket administration, he would ask the wrong questions, to the wrong people, in the wrong way. Peter Dutton was in ABC News Breakfast this morning declaring the decision outrageous. Presumably the Liberal Party now believes that democracy is only suitable when it favours them and their friends, but is an affront to decency when it involved one of their kind being rejected. No doubt if Bob Hawke had been the candidate and had been rejected we wouldn’t have heard “boo” from Dutton. At least Bob Hawke could play the game to some degree.

John Howard’s candidacy was divisive and in many ways an insult to those test playing nations that voted against it. Howard was, and presumably still is, a politician of much skill, and of course those skill would have been welcomed in the world of cricket administration. Yet it is because of his use of that skill in various circumstances that he is such an inappropriate candidate. Many, if not all, of those nations that voted against his candidacy would have legitimate complaints against him.

Let’s start with Sri Lanka. In 2004, John Howard made a statement which, for all intents and purposes, called Murali Muralitharan a “chucker”. Whether or not Murali was or is a chucker is not for this writer to say. His action has been tested numerous times and he has been cleared to play by experts and cricket’s governing bodies. Many may disagree with that decision, but that is just bad luck. Murali is a quality bowler and deserves his place amongst the top ranked bowlers of all time. John Howard’s statement in 2004, that, in regards to Murali being a chucker, “they proved it in Perth with that thing”, not only was severely undiplomatic but also indicated a serious lack of knowledge of the facts. If he was really all over the issues then perhaps he could have provided a better explanation as to why he thought Murali was a chucker. Better still, he should have adopted a more considered approach and stayed out of it. Read Christian Ryan’s story from 2004 at Cricinfo for more details on this incident .

India too can feel aggrieved by the past actions of John Howard, although in much more serious circumstances. In 2007, the Australian Federal Police arrested and detained an Indian national, Doctor Mohammed Haneef, in regard to alleged terrorism offences relating to the 2007 bombing of Glasgow airport. There is no need to go into the details. You can get a reasonable explanation of the incident here . Suffice to say that Haneef was cleared of any wrong doing after some deplorable actions of the Howard Government in what had all the appearances of the use of dog whistle politics in the lead up to an election. Fortunately it backfired. To say that the Indian Government and Indian nationals in general were upset by the incident would be an understatement.

Of course, we can look further back to see that Howard’s attitude toward’s Asia may have been an influencing factor in the decision made by the six that rejected him, or at least as far as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh go. During the mid to late 1980s, when Howard was leader of the then opposition, Howard’s policy of One Australia rejected multiculturalism and called for a slowing down of Asian immigration to support social cohesion. The Hawke Government rejected this approach and some Liberal members of the House of the Representatives actually crossed the floor to vote with Bob Hawke’s motion that race or ethnicity should not be an immigrant selection criteria.

As for South Africa, Zimbabwe and the West Indies, Howard’s past actions in regards to apartheid would certainly make him a less than attractive candidate in their eyes. Howard was one of a very few Australian politicians who opposed sanctions against apartheid South Africa during the 70s and 80s. In particular, he was in favour of Australian sporting teams, including cricket teams, touring South Africa despite that country’s despicable policies towards its non-white citizens. This was the same South Africa which would not permit mixed race sport to take place under apartheid, thus excluding teams from the West Indies and the sub continent. While these restrictions were later relaxed for international teams, the opprobrium remained.

Whether or not John Howard’s history should be relevant to the test playing nations that rejected him, when considering him for this post, the fact is that it will be relevant to them and it would be hard for anyone to distinguish his past from his abilities. Why Cricket Australia thought the candidacy of such a divisive figure was a good idea is apparent. He is a strong character and would be capable of giving the ICC some direction and relevance. But the fact is that in trying to regain some relevance for the ICC it has become obvious that the relevance of the ICC is not an important issue for most of the test playing nations. The ICC is as much of an anachronism as Howard, a remnant of when England and Australia controlled the game. For better or for worse, India controls the game now. Australia and New Zealand needed to put up a candidate that could work within the current system. Howard was never going to be the man for that job.