Monthly archives: October, 2019

WA prison farm old, too small: report

An old and jam-packed minimum security prison south of Perth has not been upgraded sufficiently despite the need being identified 12 years ago, a report has revealed.


The report by Western Australia’s Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan followed a recent inspection of Karnet Prison Farm and was tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Morgan concluded Karnet was one of the state’s strongest performing prisons, saying it was well managed and a large number of prisoners had embraced employment, education and training, and recreation opportunities available to them at the facility.

But it was also an old prison, where the population had surged over the past three years.

“While there have been a number of infrastructure upgrades to sustain the new population, including power, water and a number of new buildings, more investment is still required,” Mr Morgan said in his report.

“In the prison’s fiftieth year, the age and small size of some of its buildings remain a problem.

“Even at the time of this office’s first inspection of Karnet in 2001, it was identified that the majority of its buildings needed to be upgraded. This situation is largely unchanged.”

Mr Morgan also noted Aboriginal prisoners were under-represented at minimum security prisons across the state, including Karnet.

“Despite making up 41 per cent of the state’s prison population, only 11 per cent of Karnet’s prisoners were Aboriginal,” he said.

“Given the many opportunities Karnet has to offer, this is disappointing.”

Mr Morgan will on Wednesday report on a riot earlier this year at the state’s only juvenile detention centre, Banksia Hill.

Fact sheet: Australia’s voting system

Australia goes to the polls for the 44th time since federation in 1901 on September 7.


Federal elections in Australia are always held on a Saturday.

Before 1918 the simple majority, or “first-past-the-post” system, was used to choose members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Under that system, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins.

This system is still used in many countries, for example in the United States, Britain, Canada and India.

However, Australia now uses preferential voting systems for House of Representatives and Senate elections.

The House of Representatives, often called the “People’s House”, is elected on the basis of population numbers.

Australia is divided into single-member divisions which have approximately the same number of electors.

There are currently 150 electoral divisions, or electorates, but the number of divisions may change slightly between elections due to redistributions of electoral boundaries.

Voters in each division elect one person to represent them in the House of Representatives.

The system used for the Senate is designed to ensure the election of several candidates from each state and territory.

The preferential system used to elect Senators explains why relatively minor parties can end up with a place in the Senate.

In order to win a Senate seat, a candidate must receive a minimum number of votes, known as a quota.

Candidates receiving more votes than the quota have the extra votes distributed to other candidates according to voters’ preferences.

If all the vacant positions are not filled, then the electors’ preferences are distributed until all vacancies are filled.

This means that a party which receives, say, only four per cent of the primary vote could achieve a quota after the distribution of preferences.

The Senate has 76 members and is made up of 12 Senators from each of the six states and two each from the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

However, this year’s election is what is called a half-Senate election, where Australia is voting for six Senators from each state and two representatives from each territory.

The counting of Senate votes is complex and a clear result cannot be expected for a number of weeks after the election.

Rudd, Beattie ‘here to help’

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admits he’s had his differences with Peter Beattie but says the former Queensland premier will make a great federal member.


Mr Rudd has visited Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, to formally announce Mr Beattie as the new Labor candidate for the Liberal-held seat of Forde.

“I’m Kevin, I’m from Queensland and I’m here to help,” he said. “His name’s Peter, he’s from Queensland and he’s here to help as well.”

Mr Rudd admitted he and Mr Beattie had “had the odd stoush” over their political careers.

“That’s life in the Labor party,” Mr Rudd said, adding any past criticism was “water off a duck’s back”.

“What really matters is standing up for the great state of Queensland,” he said.

“What unites us as a team are our strong values.”

Mr Rudd said Mr Beattie, who was premier from 1998 to 2007, had taken unemployment from 8.5 per cent to 3.8 per cent.

Mr Beattie said he and his wife Heather moved into his brother’s house in the Forde electorate on Thursday.

“If I am fortunate enough to be elected as the member for Forde I will be buying and moving into the electorate immediately,” he said.

“I believe in being part of the electorate.”

Mr Beattie said one of the reasons he is running is because he wants to see Queensland get a fair go.

“If Tony Abbott wins this election we’ll have wall-to-wall LNP from one end of Queensland to the other,” he said in Beenleigh.

“That’s just not fair and it’s just not good for Queensland.”

He thanked Mr Rudd for inviting him to run and said he looked forward to being an “energetic voice” for Forde and “a pain in the neck” when it came to standing up for his state.

In the past, Mr Beattie had called for Mr Rudd not to contest the federal Labor leadership against Julia Gillard.

He now says it’s probably good Mr Rudd didn’t take his advice.

“I am delighted to see this election is a contest,” Mr Beattie said.

“Elections are about the battle of ideas. I’m delighted he didn’t accept my advice.

“He often doesn’t and I think it’s probably in the interests of Australia that he didn’t.”

Mr Rudd, who has criticised the use of leadership “captain’s picks” to select Labor candidates, said the choice of Mr Beattie had been a matter for the Labor party organisation.

But he had telephoned Mr Beattie in the United States several days ago to canvass his interest in running for Forde.

“I don’t think it’s any great mystery we have here an enormous asset to the Labor party,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Beattie said he would stay full term if Labor lost government and was “happy to be a humble backbencher”.

“As all of you know, I have been humble all my life and that humility will continue,” he joked.

Mr Beattie said he wasn’t taking victory in Forde for granted, declaring himself the “underdog”.

“I have to prove myself to the people of Forde,” he said, adding his working class upbringing allowed him to understand the plight of those in the electorate doing it tough.

Mrs Beattie, who once said she’d kill her husband if he returned to politics, supported his decision.

“We had some discussion about it and I agreed with Peter that we needed to put Australia first,” she said.

“That’s why I’m happy to support him and support the prime minister.”

Mr Beattie said he’d been “terrified” when he broached the subject with Heather, who once threatened to measure him for a coffin if he ever ran again.

Mr Rudd thanked Des Hardman, who was Labor’s endorsed candidate in Forde, for stepping down to let Mr Beattie run and give the party a better chance at winning.

“He’s put together a strong team here locally, he’s worked for more than a year, he’s put together the foundations which Peter will now be able to draw upon,” he said.

Mr Rudd said he had not spoken with any other former Labor premiers like Mike Rann, Steve Bracks or Geoff Gallop about running in federal seats elsewhere in the country.

Liberal National Party member for Forde, Bert Van Manen, attacked Mr Beattie’s record as premier.

“That record has led to the issues we see today for the constituents of Forde with high power prices, high water prices, lack of infrastructure and any number of other issues,” he told reporters.

Mr Van Manen said Labor had stabbed Mr Hardman in the back by endorsing “Johnny-come-lately” Mr Beattie, proving it was only interested in staying in power.

“I’ve got a simple message for the people of Forde. I wasn’t parachuted in,” he said.

“He (Mr Beattie) has had no contact with this electorate for at least the last six years when he has been in various roles overseas.

“He’s only moving into the electorate to create the perception he has a tie to the community.

“As a local I understand the issues that are affecting the people of Forde and those are jobs and the cost of living.”


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Back to work for Mahan, with new mouth to feed

Mahan, who walked away from a potential million dollar payday at the Canadian Open two weeks ago to return home to Dallas after his wife went into labour, has soaked up well-wishes from his fellow players and endless praise from golf fans all week for putting his family ahead of his job.


“I haven’t met anyone who has said I made the wrong decision,” said an in-form Mahan, who turned his back on a two-shot lead going into the third round of the Canadian Open to be with his wife.

“But it’s been pretty much a consensus of people saying I did the right thing. Everyone knows someone who has given birth or had a child and I think everyone knows how special it is.

“I think people are just ready for a great story in sports, and it was a great time.”

A storybook finish to this feel-good tale would see Mahan walking away from the year’s final major holding the Wanamaker Trophy in one arm and his daughter Zoe in the other.

Mahan has been knocking on the major door recently and the 31-year-old American will be on the shortlist of contenders when action gets underway on Thursday at stately Oak Hill Country Club.

A five-time winner on the PGA Tour, Mahan has six top-10 finishes at the majors, including two this year after playing in the final pairing going into the last day at both the U.S. and British Opens.

“It’s been very encouraging to be in the final group in a major; I think it’s a great accomplishment, because you’re in the last group out there and you get to see what everybody else does,” said Mahan.

“You can see why Tiger (Woods) and why those guys want to be in the last group. I feel like it’s somewhat calming in a way, or at least that’s what I felt, because you kind of know what everyone is doing and you get a sense of everything.

“You know you’re playing well and so you can just go out there and play golf and enjoy the experience.”


Mahan, however, has been unable to turn good form at the majors into a victory.

In last month’s British Open at Muirfield, Mahan struggled on the final day before finishing joint ninth, having shared fourth place at the U.S. Open five weeks earlier.

“I don’t know what’s held me back,” shrugged Mahan. “It’s hard to win tournaments out here. It’s not easy. Phil (Mickelson) played unbelievable at the British Open and no one was going to beat him that day.

“I felt like at the U.S. Open, I wasn’t that far off. I just had one or two shots that hurt me. I’ve just got to keep working, keep getting better at my all-around game, and I think I’ll get there.”

Mahan’s only competition for the unofficial crown of PGA Tour’s Father of Year might have been Mickelson, who made a coast-to-coast trip on the eve of the U.S. Open at Merion to attend his daughter’s graduation in California.

This week, the on-course competition will be much tougher at Oak Hill where Mahan estimates that as many as 30 golfers have a shot at the PGA title.

“The depth and quality of the field now is pretty remarkable, especially at majors,” he said. “I know it seemed like when I first joined the Tour there was maybe a handful of guys who could win and had a legitimate chance and by Sunday they were all up there.

“Now, there might be 20 guys with a legitimate chance when they step on the tee, maybe 25, 30, when they step on the tee on Thursday with a chance to win and they have the games and potential to do that.

“This is a world-class field and this is a world-class golf course, so you’re going to have to play your best to win this week.”

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

Britain announces compensation to Kenyans

The British government has agreed to compensate Kenyans tortured during the Mau Mau uprising against colonial rule in the 1950s.



Foreign Secretary William Hague made the historic announcement in Parliament and has expressed “sincere regret” that the abuses had taken place.


He says the government will pay a total of more than $ 32 million to 5,228 veterans.

Mr Hague says Britain would also support the construction in Kenya’s capital Nairobi of a memorial to the victims of ill-treatment during the colonial era.


The announcement comes after a long legal battle between a number of elderly victims and the British government.


Santilla Chingaipe reports.

1950s NEWSREEL         

(music) “This is Kenya. A rich, prosperous land, but one that has been clouded for many months by a shadow of evil. For this is the land of the Mau Mau. Some are brought in to face justice, others are shot in fights with police and troops, but thousands more escape to continue their crusade of murder and violence.”

The Mau Mau rebellion aimed at ending more than 50 years of British rule, began in the early 1950s, and lasted almost a decade.

The British colonial government declared an Emergency in 1952, and it’s some of the actions of brutal suppression that followed that the Kenyan claimants aired in the British High Court.

Lawyer Martyn Day says they were among the many thousands of Kenyans rounded up during the Emergency and put in detention camps without trial.

“They didn’t bother really putting anyone through any formal criminal process. They basically detained, tortured all just as a part of this way to break the spirit of the Mau Mau people and our four clients were caught up in all of this, subject to this most terrible treatment, never properly charged or suggested that they’d been responsible for any criminal acts and eventually they were released. But it was a very very terrible time for them and a very very terrible stain on the British history.”

Martyn Day says the systematic abuses suffered by his clients – as they were held without trial for up to nine years  – were horrific.

“One of the terrible things that the British did to many of the victims, but particularly to the four surviving members of the claimant group that is taking these claims to court  is — for the men, the castration was a very major part of what they were doing to try and intimidate the Mau Mau and two of the guys were castrated. One of the claimants, a woman had a broken bottle shoved into her genitalia. So it was pretty gruesome as to what was happening and they all received very very severe beatings and torture to the most extreme level and it was a pretty terrible time for them and a cloud that’s been hanging over their heads for the last fifty years.”

The Mau Mau were only ever active in parts of Kenya, and were far from universally supported by their fellow Kenyans.

Even after independence in 1963 a ban imposed by the British remained in place.

George Morara, from the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, says it was only after the lifting of the ban in 2003 that some of the former detainees felt they were able to seek restitution for their mistreatment.

He says it’s been a long process, but the Commission has supported the efforts to get the case before the Court in London.

“The four are acting on behalf of a bigger number of the Mau Mau veterans who for the longest time had been forgotten by the successive Kenyan governments since Kenya got independence in 1963. As a matter of fact, which remains a painful reality, is that Mau Mau remained a proscribed organisation in the statutes of the Kenyan law up to 2003 when there was a new government that then that ban that had been imposed on Mau Mau in 1952 was lifted and after that they were able to organise and come out and say, ‘Well, we played an important role in the country’s liberation but we’ve remained proscribed for the longest time, we’ve suffered terrible acts of torture and now we really want the country and those that committed those acts to.. we want justice for what happened during that time’. So it wasn’t possible before 2003 to talk about Mau Mau, but after the ban had been lifted, the Mau Mau approached the Kenyan Human Rights Commission.”


“In Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Europeans and Africans still walk the streets in fear of the dreaded Mau Mau. There is little reliable information about the set up of the terrorist organisation, for few members even know from whom they take their orders. They obey blindly. Savagely attacking the defenceless. Burning, looting, murdering. Kenya is a battlefield of a conflict that cannot end until the Mau Mau is dissolved forever.”

George Morara believes the impetus of what became the Mau Mau rebellion can be traced to Kenyans who had fought in British military units during the Second World War.

He says on returning home after the war ended in 1945, resentment grew when they found themselves being treated differently to British settlers.

“It was given even more impetus by the Kenyans who were returning from the Second World War, because somebody like field marshal Dedan Kimathi had fought alongside the British in World War Two, so when they came back — these young Kenyans who had gone out there and sacrificed — when they came back they realised that there was differential treatment, their British counterparts were given rewards in terms of land and all this, but then they were just left with nothing really, to languish, so they brought the skills that they’d gotten, the military skills from the Second World War, and the issues they were articulating resonated with the population and within no time there was the Mau Mau movement because the Africans really wanted their freedom and independence back.”


A former member of the Kenyan Police Reserve during the Emergency who now lives in Australia, Richard Cade, says the Mau Mau committed terrible abuses to European settlers.

He says the rebels murdered some settlers, but they also used other tactics to terrorise them.

“There were some pretty horrific things. One of their favourite weapons was a simi (native longsword), which is sort of like a machete, razor sharp, absolutely you could just about shave with it. And it’s probably about 18 inches, 24 inches long and they were pretty good at wheeling that around and chopping your hand off first and your neck and a few other things. My uncle who was in Nanyuki, he had raids on his farm, he had a couple of guns stolen. One night we heard all the cattle making a lot of noise and went out there and all the back legs and hamstrings had been cut and you had to shoot your cattle. You’d been breeding a herd, improving a herd for probably 20 years and all gone down. You had to shoot them.”

Richard Cade says the Mau Mau rebels also swore an oath of allegiance to each other, and the movement, through special ceremonies which he describes as gruesome, involving animal sacrifices and the drinking of blood and other bodily fluids.


He says anyone swearing the oath was in fear of death for breaking it – and he witnessed what happened to other Kenyans suspected of opposing the movement.

“One of the big recollections is what they did to each other, to other Africans. The horrific injuries such as slitting the bellies of pregnant women, cutting the Achilles Tendons of men, horrific wounds. And this was done to men, women and children. Their own people, their own tribe, and that really stuck in my mind.”

George Morara admits that there were violent crimes committed by the Mau Mau on fellow Kenyans – but he blames the British.

“Let’s not try to turn the blame on the victim, without looking at the structures in which they were operating. Part of the reason we’ve taken the case to the UK is to say, the superstructure of governance had been created by the British government and what we had in terms of the court systems, what we had in terms of the political structure, what we had in terms of the social structure, were all creations of the British colonial government and the British government. If there was a disintegration of law and order, within that structure, it spoke volumes to the kind of governance structures that were there, to the kind of social structures that were there and to the kind of political structures that were there. And if they didn’t allow a significant component of people to participate, there was bound to be some kind of reaction — even violent reaction — to those oppressive structures.”  

1950s NEWSREEL      

“Ambitious plans are being made to aid the African and to build a new future for him. The criticism that Europeans ignore the welfare of Africans is being countered by the higher standards of living. New homes replace the shacks in which so many spent there early days. For the Kikuyu, a new future beckons. A future bright with hope. Poor living conditions were the breeding ground of disaffection. Agitators urged some of the Africans to free their country of the white man.”

Professor David Anderson from Oxford University in England has been intensely studying the period of the Mau Mau Emergency.

He says the British used some Kenyans to reinforce their own military units to fight the rebels.

“It was based partly in their lack of political representation, but also in their resentments and grievances about lands that had been taken from them to give farms to white settlers. Those were the motivations. The rebellion was led by a relatively small group initially, of radical nationalists who took up arms against the British, and as the rebellion grew in ’53, ’54, the ranks of the Mau Mau army in the forests of Kenya swelled to maybe 20-25,000. The British mounted a very large counter insurgency campaign. 11 British regiments served in Kenya all of that period as well as local armed forces, The Kings African Rifles, and a whole series of local militias including the local home guard recruited from loyal Kikuyu Africans to fight against the Mau Mau rebel.” 

Professor Anderson worked with lawyers for the Kenyan claimants, helping them to gather evidence for the case before the High Court.

And in 2011, his research led to an extraordinary discovery.

Professor Anderson says after years of denial, the British government was eventually forced to admit during preliminary hearings that more than 8,000 files relating to colonial administrations in Kenya and elsewhere did in fact exist.

“The important thing about these documents, is that the Kenyan documents and all the others, were removed from Britain’s former colonies on the eve of their independence. And what happened was that Britain actually had a project to do that in every single colony as it decolonised. So they took documents back from everywhere. Now that was strictly speaking ‘not legal’,  because they were supposed to hand over those documents to the incoming regime. They then, in the subsequent years, when they were questioned by some countries about whether they had such documents the British government lied and denied that they had these documents. In the Kenyan case, they were three requests made in the 1960s and 1970s. And on each occasion, the British basically told Kenya to mind their own business.”

Professor Anderson says the Kenyan files contained significant new evidence.

“The Kenyan files comprise around 1,450 files. They vary in size, the average length is about 250 folios. So this is a considerable amount of material. And those files cover some of the very closely linked issues around this case, such as practices of corporal punishment, and of abuse, of tortures and indeed deaths in custody of prisoners. So this documentation is highly germane to the case.”

The British government accepted that detainees had been tortured, but initially claimed that all liabilities were transferred to the new rulers of Kenya when it was granted independence.

The Court dismissed the argument – and decided the British government was indeed the defendant.

The British High Court ruled that the Kenyans have the right to sue for damages for their treatment during the 1950s.

The British government subsequently initiated negotiations to compensate the group of elderly Kenyans.

At least 10,000 people died during the Mau Mau uprising, with some sources giving far higher estimates.