Wednesday, December 17, 2008
UPDATE DECEMBER 2008
If you're new to this story - one of the most pernicious miscarriages of justice against an innocent person in modern Australian history - please visit here for a quick summary, and/or watch the video on this page.
It's now up to Federal Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, to use his powers to waive any and all of the Commonwealth of Australia's claims against Dawn Rowan. His colleague, Jenny Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) recommended that he do so.
Here's an email I've just received from Dawn:
Tanner’s Branch Manager sent a letter and file from Macklin’s Department to Dawn’s legal aid solicitor on 27th October 2008.
This File contained a letter from Macklin to Tanner dated 12th May 2008 (following the last email campaign from you all) strongly supporting that the debt be waived. It states, “The loss of a home is a significant final price to pay for defamation proceedings commenced in 1990 in relation to a report published more than twenty years ago. The long history suggests that there has already been considerable anguish and I fear that this will only be compounded by the Commonwealth finally recovering the money owed.”
Astonishingly, this file also contained a submission from Macklin’s Department totally OPPOSING the waiver, misrepresenting the facts of this case, with outright lies, half truths, omissions and misleading statements.
• It states “the debt arose as a result of the Commonwealth defending itself against UNJUSTIFIED court action taken by Ms Rowan.” [emphasis added]. Remember I was found completely innocent of all allegations.
• The cover letter WAS NOT SIGNED and no contact person identified – unheard of in any bureaucracy!!!
• Her department “does not consider that the non-waiver of the debt would result in ongoing financial hardship.”
• It then contradicts itself several times. For example:
(1). “that social security benefits are available for Dawn if she has limited earning capacity”
(2). “Ms Rowan has limited future earning capacity due to her age, mental health and damaged reputation.”
• MOST APPALLING: “Ms Rowan's psychiatrist considered that Ms Rowan suffers from ongoing poor health and constituted a suicide risk (psychiatric report from September 2005). However, FaSCIA [Macklin’s Department] does not consider there to be an ‘imminent’ risk, as there is no evidence of attempted suicide". !!!
QUESTION: If Ms Rowan is not under 24 hour surveillance by FaSCIA, how do they know whether suicide has been attempted?
QUESTION: With what psychiatric qualifications did FaSCIA bureaucrats arrive at this definitive assessment with no contact whatsoever with Ms Rowan or her psychiatrist?
We - Dawn's supporters - received advice that it would be good to allow Mr. Tanner to make a bold and compassionate judgment without his having to respond to many emails. It now seems that we were being too kind. Every week we have examples in the press of Commonwealth Ministers over-riding their department's recommendations when enough people raise a fuss about it! Remember, we Australians elect members to parliaments to make decisions. They can get advice from their departments, but in this case it is obvious that the advice these Ministers are getting is deeply flawed and lacking any compassion. Remember, my fellow-Australians, that millions of dollars of your taxes have been wasted by our Federal Government in trying to 'justify the unjustifiable' in this saga.
===>>> So please, everyone, in your own words write (again) to Mr. Tanner (email@example.com) asking him why it's taking so long? Please email copies of his response to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you everyone!
(Rev. Dr.) Rowland Croucher
PS. From one of Dawn's supporters:
It was interesting to see that the Finance Minister waived the taxation debt of the former Governor-General last week... I mentioned this in an email just penned to his office, highlighting the more serious circumstances facing Dawn... Let's hope he gets the Christmas spirit in this matter.