Hmmm. Six-and-a-half years later, lawyers from Slater & Gordon, representing 47 litigants, have earnt themselves $600,000, and Government lawyers have earnt themselves $700,000, following an out-of-court settlement over allegations of police misconduct at S11. As for the 47 protesters who took part in the class action, they may now celebrate an early retirement… well, providing that they are exceedingly frugal with the approximately $2,000 each will receive (on average) for being subjected to police violence — including broken bones — in the course of taking part in legal protest activity.
That a settlement of this kind has finally been reached, and lawyers have pocketed $1.3 million dollars, is unsurprising, and predicted. So too, the opportunity the settlement presents for media hacks to reinforce the counter-narrative established at the time of S11. Thus Chris Tinkler and Kelvin Healey’s lies (see below) regarding the supposed fact that “Protesters spat at and poured urine on police and hurled ball-bearings, marbles, nails, nuts and bolts”; lies of the sort repeated in regards to more recent protests against the G20 last November.
‘Taxpayers fund secret compo payout for S11 rioters’ / ‘Protesters win compo’
Chris Tinkler and Kelvin Healey
Sunday Herald Sun
March 4, 2007
PROTESTERS who clashed with police in the violent S11 [police] riots have been given a [not-so] secret payout by the Bracks Government in return for dropping legal action.
The Government and Victoria Police have agreed to a $700,000 payment to protesters in the confidential deal.
The cash is on top of $600,000 taxpayers have paid in fees for the Government’s solicitors.
Forty-seven demonstrators and law firm Slater and Gordon will share the windfall. The lawyers are believed to be allocating about $600,000 to cover their fees.
All parties in the legal dispute were tight-lipped about the deal yesterday.
The protesters sued authorities after wild [police] riots outside the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino in September, 2000.
Protesters spat at and poured urine on police and hurled ball-bearings, marbles, nails, nuts and bolts.
Those who sued alleged their injuries, including fractures to vertebrae, sternums and wrists, and shock and anxiety, were caused by police action.
News of the payout has fuelled [completely irrational] worries that the S11 protesters’ success could prompt similar action from participants in November’s G-20 riots in Melbourne.
It is understood agreement was reached when the event’s insurers — who will cover the payout — bowed to the prospect of even higher legal costs. And authorities caved in to concerns that even if they beat the protesters and were awarded costs, they would not have been able to get the money from them.
They alleged they were hurt when police cleared a path for WA Premier [1993–2001] Richard Court.
Here Tinkler and Healey are referring to Dick’s attempts to reach the conference — contrary to police instructions — by driving through protesters on the morning of the first day of the conference. As the Tory remarked at the time: “I’m not interested in exotic forms of transport. If I go to a convention I like to roll up at the front door”. (Other delegates were forced to reach the conference by boat and/or helicopter.)
Unable to penetrate the crowds, Dick was trapped inside his car until police arrived. Before then, however, in one of the more memorable pieces of political poetry I’ve witnessed:
- “Aborigine Ivan Wyatt-Ring, 29, did a war dance on the car roof and said later: “I looked [Court] in the eye and said, ‘Shame, brother.’ Mate, you should have seen his expression. I said, ‘Have a taste of what you’ve done to my people.'”
Police then proceeded to give protesters a further taste of violence when, mounted and on foot, they smashed into those assembled with batons and fists. Among many other injuries sustained during the course of the police assault, one man had his teeth knocked out and was taken to Alfred Hospital. Dick, of course, escaped without a hair on his head being touched, and has since gone on to profit from the neoliberal restructuring of WA’s economy that took place during his eight years in office, now ensconced as Chairman of Perth-based mining company GRD Minproc. (Incidentally, Dick’s daddy Sir Charles Court was also WA Premier, from 1974 to 1982.)
Luke Roche was the SBS camera operator police assaulted, and at the time he stated: “I was knocked to the ground, I wasn’t sure what happened. I rolled over to try and get a couple of point of view trampling shots as they occurred and I copped a couple of batons as they went over. And it’s pretty obvious why I’m there. I was making myself known to as many police as possible that I’m part of the media and I’m there doing my work.”
The protesters sued the state of Victoria and 953 officers who worked at the riot, including former deputy commissioner Neil O’Loughlin – in charge of the police operation – and former traffic assistant commissioner Ray Shuey.
Inspector Glenn Weir, of Victoria Police, said the settlement resolved all proceedings against police and the state relating to the protest.
“The parties . . . are all satisfied that an appropriate resolution has been reached without the need for costly and time-consuming court proceedings,” Insp Weir said.
Lawyers from Slater and Gordon refused to discuss the case this week.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the deal was another shady deal by Premier Steve Bracks, who was already under the microscope over a secret pre-election agreement with the Police Association.
“The Victorian public will be rightly outraged,” Mr Baillieu said. “This is yet another backroom deal and people are sick of Labor’s backroom deals.”
The police paid out more than $6 million after strip-searching hundreds in a raid on Tasty nightclub in 1994.
In 2000, 30 protesters baton-charged by police outside Richmond Secondary College in 1993 were paid $300,000.
See also : Furore over protesters’ payouts: report, AAP, The Age, March 4, 2007 — essentially a recapitulation of the account in the Herald Sun | Beating Up: A Report on Police Batons and the News Media at the World Economic Forum, Melbourne, September 2000, Dr. Bernard Barrett (2000) | ‘Protesting Legalities’, The Law Report, ABC, October 24, 2000 | The Tasty nightclub raid, in which Victoria Police forced 463 patrons to strip naked, is the subject of a terrific documentary, directed by Stephen MacLean. For more details, read The Tasty Bust Reunion press kit [PDF] | The police assault on picketers, and the unsuccessful struggle to keep Richmond Secondary College open — one of 55 state schools closed by the thoroughly depressing former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett — is also the subject of a book by Stephen Jolly, Behind the Lines (1996); an account of the successful struggle to save Northlands Secondary College, “a significant event in the history of Aboriginal people in Victoria and the need for their history and difficulties within this society to be acknowledged”, is provided by Georgina Meyer (June, 1999)
- I said, “Tomorrow John” and he said, “I know where your sympathies lie”, and I said, “I couldn’t give a fuck. I have no sympathies any more. You’re all a pack of shits and tomorrow I’m going berserk”. Well he went off his brain and in the end I said to him, I said, “Howard. You’re a cunt. You haven’t got my support, you never will have and I’m not going to rubbish you or the party tomorrow but I feel a lot better having told you you’re a cunt.”
— Jeff Kennett, March 23, 1987