Monday 17 August 2009

Cairns Labor Party withheld complaint because of political damage

Labor Party campaign director Col McKenzie, talks with Yacht Club protester Bryan Law, after Friday's day-long hearing in the Cairns Magistrates Court.

Both sides in the complaint against the Cairns Yacht Club protester, agreed that the Labor Party would not make a complaint during the election, because it would damage them politically.

"They mis-represented their feelings during the election campaign," Bryan Law said outside the Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon, where he was ordered to pay $400 reparation and complete 150 hours of community service.

"As soon as the election was over, and as soon as the political damage was off the agenda, they lodged a complaint out of pure vindictiveness," Bryan Law said.

"I think it's disgusting. It's a disgrace. We have a political system where politicians think it's okay to tell lies for political advantage.

When asked if the matter should have ever been bought before the court, Bryan Law said that if Desley Boyle didn't like what was being done to her election signs, she should have made a complaint at the time.

"It would have all been dealt with in the week of the election." Bryan Law says. "By waiting until the election was over, she is just tying up resources from the courts and the police. She made the decision about the [demolition of the] Yacht Club."

Desley Boyle never laid a complaint. That was left to Col McKenzie who managed Labor's Cairns campaign. Law attempted to prove that the signs were paid for and owned by the Cairns MP, not the Labor Party.

"They're her signs, she's the candidate and she's got a campaign director who gives evidence to the court saying he's the one who makes the decision and Desley's got no authority."

The signs were delivered to Boyle's [Parliamentary electorate] office, paid for by the people of Queensland, and the invoice had her name on it.

"It was just piffle what was said in court about the ownership," Bryan Law said.

The prosecuting police office asked Mr Law if he thought he owned or paid for the signs that he 'altered'.

"Well, I contribute to taxes and the Parliament, so yes, I suppose I have contributed to the cost of them," Law responded to great mirth in the Public Gallery. Judge Pinder warned that the laughter would not continue, otherwise "I will ask that nice police office to take you to the watch house." He had earlier expelled a member of the public for continually conversed with the bench.

Law was convicted of an indictable offence of Wilful Damage, and was warned by Judge Joe Pinder if he did it again, he would go to jail.

"The only bright spot was that the Magistrate agreed with me that the signs weren't worth very much," Bryan Law said.

"We spent a lot of time doing our fund-raising, we're a community organisation. It takes a lot of raffles, a lot of dinners and a lot of effort to raise the money," Col McKenzie said.

"If someones got a political point to make in the 26-day period of an election, they should put their own signs up, and I believe it's everyones democratic right to have a say, but don't deface another party's signs, I don't care whether you'll the ALP, the LNP.

"It's disheartening that half-way through a campaign to see nearly 30% of your signs defaced," McKenzie said.

"It was my deliberate decision to delay the complaint, and I take full responsibility for that. I did not want to raise the Yacht Club issue any higher in front of the Cairns people, and making a complaint during the election would have done that," McKenzie said.

"I think Bryan's trying to make a political point," he said, but he felt that the 150 hours community service imposed was too much. "I think that's a little bit high. I would have been happy just to have a conviction recorded."

McKenzie said the 'altered' signs were not removed during the campaign because they had no others to replace them with, however there were over 300 Boyle corflutes around the region, almost three times as much as any other candidate.

"If we went out and took the damaged ones down, we would have conceded the point to Bryan [Law], and I wasn't prepared to do that," Col McKenzie said.

David Morgan, an off-duty police Sargent gave evidence about seeing Bryan Law on Comport road, but the date presented to the court was not verified.

Bryan Law said that when Desley Boyle said she wasn't laying a complaint, after being interviewed by Channel 7, there was implicit permission granted. "She didn’t have a problem with the signs," Law said.

“When you put posters up, you have to expect some people to take liberties with them," Boyle told the Cairns Post at the time.

However when Bryan Law decided to take the witness stand and be questioned, he admitted that prior to the 12th March, he had no permission, implied or otherwise. Because of this, the Judge denied ascertaining if the signs, according to the invoice, where the property of the complainant [ALP] or the Cairns MP.

He told the court that he had a long history of democratic action.

"I decided to be involved in the election campaign to hold Desley Boyle accountable for the Yacht Club," Law said. "I was following a case in front of Federal Court Justice Dowsett, where he concluded that just as people had a right to put up election material, others had a right to take down. He said a right to erect a sign was not unfettered in the context of an election," Law argued.

"With regard to Desley's posters, there were a lot of signs, they said nothing political – only her hair," Law said. "I thought about how to act in a way that took up Justice Dowsett’s ideas. I spent some time designing a Golden Tiara which did not damage them [signs] but brought to the people of Cairns the political idea that Desley Boyle had accountability issues regarding the Yacht Club building to resolve with the people of Cairns."

The prosecution in the day-long hearing called Cairns Post journalist Thomas Chamberlin, Scott Forbes from Channel 7 and Jamie Townsend, employee from Desley Boyle's Parliamentary office. Byran Law called Michael Moore from CairnsBlog and Cairns Regional Council candidate, Janine Aiken.

In the 2004 Council election campaign, Mayoral candidate Val Shier and Sue Groome invited people to alter their election signs. It is a common, if somewhat unwanted, political sport to occur.

In 2005, then Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch created a legal bun-fight when Tony Hudson alleged the MP acted illegally. Entsch told people to knock down Hudson's signs, which depicted the MP as a forked-tongued devil.

"I do believe that individuals that decide they want to take this liberty, if you like, by putting out defamatory and offensive material as was done in this case, I believe they should feel some sort of consequence, if you like, for their actions," Warren Entsch said at the time.

They were signs of the time. Roll on the next election.


Bryan Outlaw said...

Bryan Law again shows what a worthless excuse for a functioning human he is.

He excuses his behaviour as "political speech", and accuses everyone else of lying.

It's time this ignoramus is jailed. It would cost us less than his dole benefits.

macca attack said...

Actually brian I think it was piss poor to lay the complaint after the election too , and I will do my level best to rid us of all labor representatives in cairns at the next election ,the asset selling liars!
And the bumbling mr bean for leichardt.

Hannibal said...

What is it about Bryan Law that fascinates you so much Mr Outlaw? Is it some latent repressed desire that makes you want to constantly stalk him in this blog (and possibly elsewhere)? Is there something from your past that still disturbs you ? Sit down on the couch and tell us all about it.

Quickie said...

Outlaw is right, prison will do him good.
His more than ample girth could not be sustained on prison food.
A new slim trim Brian will emerge.
Show him the cell door ...

Tran Sient said...

passing through Cairns at election time i noticed the defacing of Boyle's signs. I thought she must have been a yacht club supporter.
Did this ploy by Brian really work? It seems like it backfired to me...

Veritas said...

Hannibal, I think you are spot on....I laughed so much I nearly chocked on my weeties!!

I think Bryan Outlaw is envious of Brian Law's conviction and does not have the balls to do likewise!

Thaddeus said...

Bryan Law, I confirm those corflutes were paid for by various branches of the ALP within the Cairns Electorate. Blood, sweat and tears went into fund raising - standing over hot bar-b-ques, women sewing for days on end, holding "Quiz" nights, running out and raffling tickets.
It isn't bloody easy fund raising.
By all means, be "creative" with one or two corflutes. There have been some very artistic examples over the years which have given people a good laugh. However, no matter what the issue is, or how passionate you might be etc etc, ordinary people have to work damned hard to raise monies for those corflutes.

Lee Stuart said...

While I hold no personal opinion about Bryan Laws actions in this matter it is sloppy journalism to report his court case in the way this blog has continued to do.

Firstly Bryan Law did not have a valid defence to this charge as he knew and as would have been the advice from any lawyer. Whoever the property belonged to (and proof of ownership was always going to be established) he did not have consent (implied or express) to damage the corflutes (the charge was not 'destroying' as he stated but wilful 'damage'). It is both ignorant and insulting to victims of crime, to suggest that because a person does not choose to lay a complaint at a particular time they are impliedly consenting to the act. Tell that to a victim of an assault (particularly a domestic assault) - if you don't make a complaint to the police you have consented to the assault - and to ongoing assaults!! Not likely. Many people change their minds about whether or not to lay a complaint particularly if the offending behaviour continues. As Bryan and everyone knew, the ALP were hardly going to give him more breathing space during the election campaign. Are you seriously trying to critisise for a rational, political decision? Bryan's suggestion that somehow the corflutes were public property, paid for out of government (therefore public) monies is again completly misleading. As a previous candidate for public office himself, he knows that corflutes are paid for out of campaign funds - raised by campaign teams. An earlier report on this blog (from Bryan) suggested that the police procedure was flawed in that witness statements were obtained after the charge was laid. This is the practice of the police - the charge is laid after the initial complaint and investigation. It is only after the person elects to plead not guilty that the police are required to obtain full witness statements and to prepare the full brief of evidence. When people plead guilty the charge proceeds on the minimal complaint and paperwork. While it is everyone's right to be proved guilty, most people accept that when there is no valid defence it is a waste of court time and public resources to unnecessarily take the matter to trial. The law in such circumstances imposes a harsher penalty to relfect the lack of remorse and waste of time. Bryan's whole agenda was to grandstand on an issue - which again it is his right to do - but he was always going to lose the case and his feeble attempt to defend the charge was unfortunately pointless. The case involving Entsch's corflutes involved taking them from the ground - not damaging them. A completely different matter and Val Schier invited people to graffiti a few selected corflutes as a publicity stunt - different again.
While the writer of this blog can express an opinion about his actions, as you claim to be a journalist at least report the facts of the court case correctly.Otherwise you really are no better than the ignorant and sloppy court journalist from the Cairns Post.

Michael P Moore, CairnsBlog said...

Thanks for your insightful contribution Lee.

Always welcome considered and thoughtful contributions like this. (Why don't you contact me about writing a piece sometime? email )

While I welcome your opinion, I disagree with your assumption that Bryan had no defence, nor should have taken this to Court.

Blame for that, should rest with the Labor Party, and while you may agree that they belong to a political party, the invoice for the Corfluttes was addressed and delivered to Desley Boyle MP and our (her) parliamentary office, not the Labor Party.

Everyone is entitled to their day in court, should they choose, however the right to raise a point as valid as the demolition of the historic Cairns Yacht Club was something that the Cairns MP failed our community at, and it the only reason Bryan Law took the action he did. I know Bryan well-enough and his conviction (not the best choice of word!), I mean passion for social justice. He's not a grand-stander, he cares about issues that often go un-reported or ignored by the mainstream media that is driven by commercial interested and lazy journalism. That's why I write about these things with such extensive coverage. A Blog allows great detail, along with opinion from readers, like you, unedited and immediate. No other media or medium allows nor encourages that.

Regardless, I'm glad you took the time to express your view.

Bryan Law said...

Hey Lee,

Legally speaking you’ve put it arse forward when you say “It is everbody’s right to be proved guilty”. In fact it is the obligation of the prosecution to prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Until I gave evidence, the Crown had failed to prove ownership to this standard, and were I interested solely in avoiding punishment I would not have testified against myself.

The reason I testified is the same as the reason I altered Desley’s signs in the first place – a commitment to truth and honesty in public discourse.

I was interested that Col McKenzie explained the delay in complaint as a political tactic during the election campaign to deprive the Yacht Club issue of any further publicity auction. He said there was a period when everyone was worried that the issue might hurt them. If you ask me that’s evidence of Desley’s guilty conscience, and evidence that my little campaign was an effective exercise in democratic accountability. That’s not a crime.

It’s also evidence of just how corrupt our political culture is. Politicians lie all the time, and are expected to lie by their supporters and opponents alike. The electorate tolerates it. Apparently that’s not a crime either.

For one reason or another, I’ve chosen not to tolerate lying as our chief political standard.

I don’t see anything positive in lying, or in politics as a game. Look around you at the parlous state of our democracy. Think about the aphorism that “In a democracy, people tend to get the government they deserve”. If you live in Cairns, ask yourself “What have I done to deserve Desley Boyle and Anna Bligh?

Then repent.

Lee Stuart said...


I do not wish to be embroiled in a debate over the morality of what you did - you had (and have) the right to express your political beliefs and I have no doubt that this is sometimes effective. My concern was the way in which details of the court case were being reported which in my view were misleading.

The offence from the Criminal Code states

469 Wilful damage
Any person who wilfully and unlawfully destroys or damages any property is guilty of an offence which, unless otherwise stated, is a misdemeanour, and the person is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for 5 years.

It refers to 'any property' not 'property belonging to another'. Once it was established the property was not yours and you had no consent to damage it - the prosecution was not required to prove ownership further and the Magistrate was entitled to not hear further evidence on that issue. I strongly object to the suggestion that the failure to make a complaint amounts to consent - once again I refer to victims of assault who by failing to complain do not consent to the assault or ongoing assaults. I also think your statement that you, through payment of taxes, contributed to the cost may have been funny to your supporters in the gallery, but as you know again totally misleading.
Your motive for and commitment to the campaign was not the issue in the case and yes, while the court case gained you a little more publicity (but probably not respect) I am concerned at the waste of court time on fruitless defences (not genuine ones) in a system that has people on remand in custody waiting for lenghty periods for their genuine hearings which may grant them their liberty.

Regards, Lee

Unknown said...

this stuff from bumbrain bryan is worse than anything the compost has ever published. apart from being illogical and ignorant nonsense, its very very boring. law is a noisy, bullying halfwit who has has exactly nothing to contribute to public discourse.