The Supreme Court of Western Australia has heard that a 55-year-old Kalgoorlie man ran over and killed 14-year-old Elijah Doughty in August last year after chasing the youth down a dirt track in his four-wheel drive. The man, who cannot be named, pursued Doughty for 100 metres, hitting him at nearly 70 km/h and killing him instantly. While the man’s lawyer told the court Doughty “veered in front” of his client “without warning” on a dirt bike, police are pursuing a manslaughter charge for the man’s “gross negligence” in failing to take reasonable action to prevent hitting the teenager. Doughty’s death triggered protests around the country demanding justice for Elijah’s death, and exposed deep racial divisions in Kalgoorlie, where racism towards young Indigenous men and boys manifested in violent and threatening social media posts.
The Referendum Council on Indigenous constitutional recognition has recommended Parliament adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart and call a referendum to enshrine an “Indigenous Voice” in the constitution that would “enable the First Peoples of Australia to speak to the Parliament and to the nation about the laws and policies that concern them”. Referendum Council co-chairs Mark Leibler and Pat Anderson said Parliament should either adopt the Council’s recommendation, which was delivered to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday, or abandon the pursuit of constitutional recognition entirely. The council did not consider the Uluru statement’s call for a Makarrata commission leading towards a treaty, as treaty falls outside its purview of constitutional reform. Turnbull responded cautiously to the recommendation, warning against a “heroic failure”, while Shorten said he did “not believe” the change was “beyond us”.
The government’s planned Home Office-style national security department will have to make a case for its own existence if it is to overcome substantial opposition in Cabinet. Foreign minister Julie Bishop, defence minister Marise Payne, attorney-general George Brandis and justice minister Michael Keenan are all reportedly against the idea, as are senior bureaucrats in ASIO and the Australian Federal Police. Critics of the idea say existing security and intelligence agencies are working well together and consolidating them under one person’s authority would raise significant oversight concerns. An independent review of Australia’s intelligence apparatus, which Turnbull is expected to make public later this week, is believed not to support the idea.
Turnbull’s public case for the super-agency got off to a rough start, with criticism that his press conference in the presence of masked soldiers wielding submachine guns politicised the military. On the ABC’s Q&A last night, British Al Jazeera host Mehdi Hasan said seeing the Prime Minister “standing surrounded, flanked, by six special forces soldiers with masks on their faces” made him “uncomfortable”. Labor shadow minister Terri Butler claimed Turnbull had broken “a long bipartisan approach to not using the military for campaigning purposes”.
And the family of an Australian woman shot dead by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota say they “demand answers” from American police and authorities. Justine Damond, 40, was shot by officer Mohamed Noor after reporting a disturbance in an alley behind her home and approaching a police vehicle in her pyjamas. Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges said the shooting had left her “heartsick and deeply disturbed”, and said she has “questions about why the bodycams weren’t on”, echoing the concerns of the American Civil Liberties Union.