Just a short piece today.
The Australian royal commission is only the second of its kind in the world, the first being that conducted by Ireland. Those here have the benefit of experiences gained during the Irish experiment. One of the lessons learned was to widen the enquiry to focus as much on non-church organisations as on church organisations. While the church is very important to the Irish, it may be said that, in a sports-mad nation like Australia, concerns over behaviours in sporting institutions are almost as troubling.
A few such cases have already come to light.
While aspects of the Irish enquiry will be raised as they impact on current proceedings of the Australian royal commission, this will not be treated extensively as a rule. The Irish experience is unique to them and only they have the right to an opinion about it.
Most Aussies are aware that many in the US see us as being a bit hillbilly, and many in the UK are critical of us as colonials. In the case of how we have set up our royal commission, they have a valid point to make. Can one really think those in the UK, who gave us all the concept of due process and judgment by one’s peers, would accept an enquiry head who disdained the jury process?
Similarly, one would think that officials in the US would be much more ready to challenge perceived conflict of interest, such as has been raised here with regard to commissioner Fitzgerald. Given the current snowballing moves to have a national enquiry in both the UK and US, it may be of benefit to them to observe the “mistakes” Australia is making. They will surely address these issues when they inevitably hold their own national investigations.
Other countries, notably Germany and The Netherlands, are now well poised to hold national enquiries. They too will learn lessons from our local experiences.
While the primary purpose of this account is to assist with debate in Australia, it would be serendipitous if it were to also assist others throughout the world who are trying to fix the same problem in their own particular way.
TOMORROW: What constitutes an institution?
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)