The Guardian March 5, 2003


Control freak

by Andrew Jackson

Extreme right-wing NSW Police Minister Michael Costa let slip his fascist 
tendencies again last week, revealing the next step in his plan to take 
total personal control of the NSW judiciary.

Mr Costa announced at a Local Government meeting last week that he would 
publish "shame file" lists of Judges who did not sit before public meetings 
and justify their sentencing decisions.

"It makes sense for magistrates to join police at PACTs [Police 
Accountability Community Teams] to meet with local MPs, mayors, business 
and community representatives to address their concerns", Mr Costa said.

Citing recent several recent instances where he disagreed with sentences 
handed down by Judges, Mr Costa said, "a small number really haven't gotten 
the message ... the only way to deal with this issue is to ensure we put 
pressure on those people to get real about some of their decisions, because 
they are absurd.

"The ones that we have seen reflect not only poorly on our whole system but 
poorly on the people who make these decisions because they have a complete 
lack of understanding of what the community expects."

The NSW Attorney-General, Bob Debus, responded quickly to Mr Costa's 
proposal.

"I feel certain that my colleague fully accepts that under the Westminster 
system magistrates remain independent", Mr Debus said.

"Under no circumstances are they accountable to police."

But what about the "mayors, business and community representatives", Mr 
Debus?

Mr Carr and his Government are renowned for slavishly following talkback 
radio, and rushing legislation through Parliament according to weekly 
public opinion.

Mr Costa drawn in newspaper cartoons with right-wing radio host Alan Jones 
sitting on his shoulder as a parrot.

Other elements of Mr Costa's Police-State vision have already been 
implemented by the NSW Government.

Last year the Labor Government passed "terrorism" legislation so extreme 
that it would not have looked out of place in Pinochet's Chile".

The Police Powers Bill 2002 reads:

"An authorisation (and any decision of the police minister under this part 
with respect to the authorisation) may not be challenged, reviewed, quashed 
or called into question on any grounds whatsoever before any court, 
tribunal, body or person in any legal proceedings."

The Terror Legislation gave Mr Costa open slather to arrest, photograph, 
strip, secretly observe and interrogate with impunity any individual he 
deems may "prejudice the security of the state".

It also allows him to shut down broadcasts, ban publications, seize 
property, order the removal of people from public places and call out 
large-scale use of military forces against NSW citizens.

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