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Dan Box is a crime reporter for The Australian. In September 2014, Homicide Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin contacted him to ask him to write about the murder of three Aboriginal children from Bowraville in 1990–91. Box later began a podcast about the murders that ...

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There is an odd moment halfway through The Dry when Aaron Falk, the Federal Police officer unofficially investigating the apparent murder–suicide of the Hadler family ...

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The Australian way of life has been much influenced by the proximity of most of the population to the coast. While we often think of the sunny side of that existence in terms of the beach, certain shadier aspects of the Australian experience have been shaped at the docks.

'Australia's major ports have been the birthplace of the nation, home to the tight-knit ...

The first book in Barry Maitland’s projected Belltree Trilogy, Crucifixion Creek features veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, detective Harry Belltree. The eponymous Creek is a wasteland in south-western Sydney with a bloody history of settlement, including punitive expeditions against the local Aboriginal tribe; race-based riots that ended in the lyn ...

Many people have heard of Gerald Ridsdale, defrocked Catholic priest of the diocese of Ballarat and a notorious convicted paedophile. But comparatively few people have heard of Ridsdale’s contemporary John Day. A priest in the same diocese, he too preyed upon many hundreds of children ...

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Over the last two decades, Ross Gibson has earned an outstanding reputation for ground-breaking investigations into cultural memory, image and place, and for his strikingly innovative films and installations, his curatorial work on the Photographic Collection of the Sydney Justice & Police Museum, his foundational directorship of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and, of course, his highly imaginative non-fictional writing. With its eponymous allusions to William Empson and to Jonathan Raban, his Seven Versions of an Australian Badland (2002) announced its own haunting by earlier explorations of the pastoral and of the irreducible ambiguities in history’s traces.

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This review of some contentious criminal cases in Australia over the last thirty years purports to demonstrate how the processes of the criminal law may, if mishandled, produce an unsafe conviction. The author has made her own investigations into most of the cases. She outlines her own discoveries and compares these to the findings of the police and the courts.

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On 18 January 2004 the Victorian cricket team defeated South Australia in an ING Cup match. After the game, some of the cricketers and officials, including the Victorian coach David Hookes, and their girlfriends, assembled at the Beaconsfield Hotel, in St Kilda. Hookes had played twenty-three test matches for Australia between 1977 and 1986, at an average of 34.36 runs. After retiring as a player, Hookes, beside his coaching duties, had carved out a successful career as a broadcaster and media commentator. As closing time approached, security staff informed the group that it was time to leave. Approximately fifteen minutes later in the car park, Hookes received a punch from security guard Zdravko Micevic, and fell and hit his head on the ground. He died in the early hours of the next morning. Micevic was charged with the crime of manslaughter, but was subsequently acquitted by a jury on the grounds of self-defence.

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When it was reported in 2005 that nine Australians had been arrested in Bali on charges of trafficking heroin, the public response was scornful and incredulous. In the wake of the media saturation of Schapelle Corby’s trial, such blatant attempts to flout the severe drug laws of Indonesia, with quick cash the only apparent incentive, seemed incomprehensible. As the story filtered through the press, a division appeared in ‘The Bali Nine’, as they were swiftly dubbed, between the mules – Martin Stephens, Renae Lawrence, Scott Rush and Michael Czugaj – who were apprehended with more than eight kilograms of heroin strapped to their bodies, and other members of the group, most of whom had not left the country before. These were Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, identified as the ringleaders of the operation, and Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, who were arrested in their hotel room with more than 300 grams of heroin. The mules claimed that Chan and Sukumaran had made repeated threats against their families should they not co-operate; and that they and Matthew Norman were innocent victims of an international drug-trafficking ring.

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Penal Populism and Public Opinion: Lessons from five countries by Julian V. Roberts, Loretta J. Stalans, David Indemaur, and Mike Hough

May 2003, no. 251

Recently, New South Wales had its fifth election since 1988 in which shrill law and order promises – tougher sentencing, more police, and the like – constituted the most prominent feature of the major parties’ campaigns. During those fifteen years, NSW witnessed its biggest prison-building programme in more than a century and a rise of more than fifty per cent in its prison population. An obvious lesson is that prison-building programmes and rising criminal justice expenditures do not reduce crime or enhance feelings of public safety and confidence in legal institutions, and that those who argue otherwise are chasing phantoms. Yet the terms of political discourse around law and order seem to be impervious to the facts. What would commonly be taken as incontrovertible evidence of the failure or limits of a policy in other areas yields more of the same in relation to crime control, such is the treadmill of penal populism.

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