by Michael Giles

POLITICIANS have singularly proved themselves to be unable to run even the most basic of government programs and services, efficiently and effectively.
Such debacles as the waste of money on the East-West Link, which needs to be built anyway, the national energy crisis, NBN, defence spending… you name it.
About the only thing they are capable of looking after is personal self-interest.
So, what makes anyone think they know what’s best for the justice system?
Certainly no one wants drug-crazed maniacs assaulting ambulance paramedics and nurses who are only trying to help them, or police going about their normal duties.
But mandating that highly qualified and experienced magistrates and judges must jail anyone found guilty of assaulting an emergency services worker for six months regardless of the circumstances is naïve in the extreme.
How many people calling for blood have ever stepped into a court room and witnessed how carefully magistrates and judges weigh up the issues involved before metering out penalties.
Sure, out of the thousands of cases they deal with every day, there are some that get off lightly and probably dozens that go on to reoffend soon after walking free from court. That’s life.
You can’t be protected from everything.
But to say you are going to jail everyone who assaults a police officer for six months regardless of their priors and the circumstances, and think you’ve solved the problem is ridiculous.
You’ve also got to question how the law can delve back into history and convict a priest, now archbishop, of allegedly concealing sexual abuse by a fellow priest.
If you’re going to go that way, what about all the police officers who historically turned a blind eye to family violence back in the days when the accepted norm was “what goes on behind closed doors is their business”.
Where does that end?
Certainly, it was wrong for the priest not to dob in his colleague and the Catholic Church should be made to pay compensation in incidences where they moved known pedophiles on to other parishes.
And the police should not have left battered wives to fend for themselves but we were all living in different times then. More is known now about the long-term impact of these crimes and social standards and personal responsibility has been changed accordingly.
But law reform based on who can shout the loudest is only going to turn out one way.