tip off

BOB GOSFORD | October 13, 2015 | ANIMALS | |

Do these raptors spread fire in the Australian savanna?

Black Kite, Milvus migrans

In a few weeks I’ll set off again for the US to present on my latest research project at two big international conferences.

The first will be the Raptor Research Foundation’s meeting at Sacramento in California in early November. You can read more about the meeting here and see the scientific program here (I’m in a session on the last day with eminent Gray Falcon researcher Jonny Schoenjahn).


BOB GOSFORD | October 05, 2015 | AUSTRALIAN POLITICS | 2 |

The trouble with Delia … NT Labor dumps on a 14 year veteran MLA

This is a guest post by Darwin-based legal academic Ken Parish.

I can’t help commenting that I’m really sad about the way things are going for NT Labor MLA and former leader Delia Lawrie (see the local ABC report here).

I can certainly see why the current Parliamentary and administrative leadership want to draw the curtain on Delia’s political career to minimise electoral fallout from the forthcoming Court of Appeal civil hearing and any criminal matter that might emerge (a possibility that certainly can’t be ruled out).

BOB GOSFORD | September 08, 2015 | AUSTRALIAN POLITICS | |

The NT’s Paperless Arrest Mess

This is a guest post by Russell Goldflam, President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory (CLANT). Ir was originally published in the Centralian Advocate in early September 2015.

One of the first laws passed by the fledgling Northern Territory Legislative Assembly following self-government in 1978 gave police a controversial new power: to lock intoxicated people up for a few hours even if they were not suspected of committing an offence. At the time these laws were criticised for unfairly targeting Aboriginal people, and for giving police too much power. Over time, this power of police to take people into “protective custody”, as it is often called, has been restricted a bit by amendment, but it still exists, and it is used every night to sweep the streets of Alice Springs.

Nearly 40 years on, debate still rages about whether our protective custody laws have actually done any good. The families of those people have died in protective custody – and there have been a few – would no doubt strongly argue that these laws have been harmful. Certainly, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody over 20 years ago came to the firm conclusion that we should decriminalise drunkenness, and cease the practice of locking up drunks.

BOB GOSFORD | September 08, 2015 | ANIMALS | |

Muralkarra (Crow) by Frank Malkorda

Daunyiley-nyiley, gaya barrnga, gulbi birrirra warralanga, wardupalma, birrirra borja, Wakwakwak, jirnbangaya

Birrirra borja, garma borja, Garanyula-nyula, Warduba jirnbanga,

Birrirra borja, wandalanga, gurta birrirala.

Wak wak wak

Bianga borja, jirnbanga

Badurra borja, wandalanga, a Maraychnga, daunyiley-nyiley,

Badurra Wardupalmam.

Frank Malkorda, 1982 

BOB GOSFORD | August 23, 2015 | MUSIC | |

Straight outta Darwin. The Spangeld Drongoes, live at Bonehead’s (updated)

I’m leaving Darwin. I had a party for a few friends and a bunch of muso’s turned up, including those wonderful Spangeld Drongoes (a name I’ve always wished on a band or a cafe and a tribute to the wonderful Spangled DrongoDicrurus bracteatus that you can read about here), and The Biggest Boys. Being Darwin no-one worried too much about set-lists or who was playing what and when.


BOB GOSFORD | August 21, 2015 | AUSTRALIAN POLITICS | 10 |

NT Health Minister John Elferink on death, dollars and dialysis

NT Health Minister John Elferink is one of those politicians who would have you believe that he is the smartest person in any room he’s in.

Sometimes his calls are crazy-brave, sometime they just seem more than a little crazy, or as NT News columnist Maria Billias said of his latest spray in The Daily Telegraph yesterday:

I am absolutely appalled that anyone–particularly the Health Minister of the Northern Territory–would think this is an acceptable thing to even think, let alone say. Unless of course they had a sociopathic personality disorder.

Billias was railing–in the very real-world context of her beloved 85-year-old grandfather’s battle with dementia–against Elferink’s comments made yesterday that because the elderly and chronically ill consume a disproportionate part of the NT health budget, particularly in the last years of their life, that that money would be better spent on the young.

Elferink used kidney disease as an example of where such savings might be made.

BOB GOSFORD | August 20, 2015 | UNCATEGORIZED | |

Delia Lawrie and a “wilful disregard of the known facts”

It has long been said that the toughest job in Australian politics is that of Opposition leader in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly.

This was particularly true during the twenty-seven years that the NT Labor Party suffered while the Country Liberal Party ran the joint between 1974 and 2001, when Clare Martin finally led Labor out of the wilderness.

Labor did a tolerably good job of running the NT until it ran out of enthusiasm and skill and was smacked by a resurgent CLP under Terry Mills at the 2012 general election.

Delia Lawrie was elected as Labor opposition leader and by early this year was sitting pretty to win the next election in a canter, largely due to the manifest failures of the CLP under Chief Ministers Mills and, following an ugly coup in March 2013, current leader Adam Giles, who now leads a minority government. That election–if the CLP can run their full term–will be in late August 2016.



“Journalist lunatics” – 1; Travel agent – 1 in NT Supreme Court suppression standoff

Not long ago Alexandra “Xana” Kamitsis might have been described in the media as a “glamorous socialite” or “highly respected businesswoman.”

Her profile at Ruby Connection describes her as a woman “recognised for her natural charm, elegant style and business savvy approach … Xana is extremely well connected within Darwin both politically and locally.”

Her current businesses ventures include Latitude Travel, a highly successful niche travel and event management company for high-end business and corporate executives with clients from all over the world.

BOB GOSFORD | August 18, 2015 | ANIMALS | |

Not fair? UK rejects visa for Ugandan bird guide to attend Bird Fair 2015

Deep in my desk drawer I have a thick swatch of business cards given to me during a visit to South Africa in 2008 to attend at the 12th Pan-African Ornithological Congress at Rawsonville in the Western Cape. Most are from the usual academics and bird-conservation workers from across the African continent and beyond. Other cards came from a disparate group of bird-guides from a long list of countries–Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Burundi and Uganda among others.

I was at the PAOC meeting to co-chair a day-long session on ethno-ornithology that spilled over into a round-table session and many long after-hours yarns with fellow presenters and congress participants. One of the cards in my drawer was given to me by Herbert Byaruhanga, a keen birder and expert wildlife guide from Uganda who was very interested in the added value that local bird knowledge could do to enhance his business and that of his fellow bird guides.



Is the NT’s paperless arrest scheme a new “hallmark of tyranny”?

In October last year, Jonathon Hunyor, principal solicitor at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) made a prediction that he hoped would never be realised. He told CAAMA TV in Alice Springs that new NT government laws [the "paperless arrest" regime] effectively allowed police to impose a sentence of four hours without a charge even being laid, noting that the lessons of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were being ignored.

Earlier this month Hunyor’s worst fears were realised. While appearing at a coronial inquest for the family of an Aboriginal man who earlier this year died while in police custody pursuant to that new law he reminded the NT Coroner, Greg Cavanagh, of the following words of Justice Deane in Donaldson v Broomby nearly thirty-five years ago.

Arrest is the deprivation of freedom. The ultimate instrument of arrest is force. The customary companions of arrest are ignominy and fear. The police power of arbitrary arrest is a negation of any true right to personal liberty. A police practice of arbitrary arrest is a hallmark of tyranny. Donaldson v Broomby (1981) A Crim R 160.


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