ICON of wrong and Meghan Markle to harried justice, Louise Milligan, is excited – nay, breathless: “Breaking: Open letter by 23 barristers, almost all silks, including Justin Gleeson, Kate Eastman & Gail Furness back consent reforms by Mark Speakman.” Wow. Almost all silks! Twenty-one of the 23, for the record. But before excitement carries us away to another 7-nil loss in the High Court, we should take a look at some figures.
More frayed satin than silk
There are currently 2464 barristers in NSW and 395 Queen’s Counsel. In other words, 99 percent of barristers didn’t want a bar of this letter, nor did 95 percent of silks. The list includes, as noted, culture warriors Gleeson and Furness. In March, Labor lawyer and ABC favourite Gleeson called for the onus of proof to be reversed so as to allow the Solicitor-General to judge Christian Porter – “within 48 hours.” And at Julia Gillard’s Royal Commission Into Getting George Pell, show-boater Furness falsely derided the Cardinal’s testimony as “implausible” on four occasions – contrary to procedure which requires such claims to be proven with facts. Another signatory – believe it or not – is officially censured ICAC false accuser Geoffrey Watson. He also called for the presumption of innocence to be disregarded in the Porter case. So much for the B-Team.
Turning now to the proposed revolution in question, Attorney-General Mark Speakman intends to enact several recommendations made last year by the state’s Law Reform Commission. Central to this suite is the absurd doctrine that any and all sexual activity (between everyone: married, steady or only vaguely acquainted) must only proceed with “positive consent.” It will also criminalise sex that is later claimed to have occurred following “verbal aggression, begging and nagging, physical persistence, social pressuring, and emotional manipulation.” By wilful design, any male could be accused of rape for any perceived reason or contrived purpose. Incredibly – and this is a shocking indictment of the Liberal Party – the Law Reform Commission did not recommend the affirmative consent model. Bar Association President Michael McHugh SC:
Mark the Love Machine
Zealot Speakman boasts his new laws will “educate the community” and “change social behaviour.” That is the real agenda here. More on that below. Asked by Ben Fordham how New Consent will be given during the manifold acts and arcs of lovemaking, the Attorney-General – People’s Chaperone and Barry White gone wrong – suggested “gestures, facial expressions and hand movements.” This means a woman could go to the cops because a man caressed her bottom without a gesticulated A-OK. Speakman – apparently emboldened by the weird campaigning of the Daily Telegraph – says the onus of proof will still be on the accuser; by then, however, an incredulous victim – the man – will be sitting in a courtroom and paying a lawyer.
In a creepy and totally bizarre Q&A published at the weekend, Speakman claimed he is making it “easier for young men to have sex.” He trivialised the risk and the life-smashing crime of perjury: “under-reporting” is a “far greater problem.” This familiar #MeToo complaint is both fake and self-evidently ridiculous. “Most sexual assaults don’t get reported to the police and of [those that are], only three per cent will end up in conviction,” he writes. If begging the question was as actionable as begging for nooky soon will be, Speakman would be ensconced in Long Bay.
The “under-reporting” alibi is so circular and deceitful that it constitutes a lie. Of course he cannot know anything about what hasn’t been reported and there is no proof these phantom events were “assaults.” His inference that twelve good citizens and true acquitted 97 percent of rape defendants mistakenly is an utter disgrace. What the Attorney-General and his fringe backers actually want is a punitive decimation of men to square an imaginary ledger.