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Talking points of the week


NSW Premier Mike Baird this week applauded the "democratic right to protest" but that won't stop him from sending 600 police - and the riot squad to take-on the citizens of northern NSW opposing coal seam gas mining.

Sure - the demonstration on May 18th to block access to a drilling site on a Lismore farm will attract the "usual suspects" - but many of the protestors will include farmers, and other citizens who made up a 60 percent vote against CSG mining at the most recent local government elections./p>

It will be interesting to see if riot squad officers from Sydney can identify the hitherto law-abiding citizens from a sea of 7,000 anonymous faces at the Bentley Blockade.

The exploration licence was approved by disgraced former Labor Energy Minister Ian McDonald in 2006 and again by his Liberal Party successor Chris Hartcher. Both men are at the centre of major corruption investigations into dodgy deals with mining companies.


Far be it from me to take any sides in the "Battle of Bondi" but the most interesting thing for me to emerge from the infamous Packer-Gyngell barney is the tardiness of the police in responding to community concerns, including those expressed by victims of crime. Since when do the police have to wait "for a complaint to be made"?

The cops are busy heralding their proactivity in other areas of law enforcement but were a little slow out of the blocks this time. political editor Malcolm Farr and the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul Sheehan both made great points about the propensity of the police to be a little too discretionary.


The entirely unsatisfactory situation of having the Attorney General as acting Police Minister has been quickly resolved by the Premier. On Monday my blog questioned the glaring conflict of interest in having a Minister responsible for ALL justice administering police affairs.

Within 24 hours the Premier had appointed the former Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres as the replacement for the sacked Michael Gallacher. Mr Ayres has been busy playing the role of Captain Consumer - but only time will tell if he can defy his relative youth and inexperience to lead the government's big blue gang.


Perhaps Mr Ayres will be pressured by police to follow their United States counterparts in wanting to download the contents of a citizen's phone without a warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court has been hearing two cases that test whether police can search cellphones without a warrant at the time of an arrest.

Given the massive storage capacity of an IPhone 5 - this mobile device becomes a virtual hard drive for an individual's brain - arguably storing more information than its owners could ever hope to recall from their God-given memories. Let's hope the civil libertarians win this one before a disturbing precedent is set in other corners of the "free" world, including our own.


Your heart has to go out to 51-year-old New York man Jonathan Fleming - who has walked free after serving 25 years for a murder committed while he was actually visiting Walt Disney world in Florida.

A hotel receipt emerged to prove he was interstate at the time - and his release follows a wider review of unsafe prosecutions. Yet another compelling argument against capital punishment. Read more here.


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"He's got a very good tactical mind and is good with strategy ... great advocacy and comes to grips with the evidence."

The Sunday Telegraph, 2013