The full quote from judge Roderick Howie reads: "She was an adult who, on the evidence, voluntarily took the drug and, knowing what the drug was, she did not believe it would injure her; neither did Mr Wilhelm believe it would injure her."
The story behind these words was associated with NSW Director of Public Prosecutions dropping a manslaughter charge against Mark Wilhelm. Jodie Minus wrote of the case: "After accepting Wilhelm's guilty plea to supplying (Diane) Brimble with the GHB, judge Roderick Howie attacked the 2006 inquest, presided over by Deputy State Coroner Jacqueline Milledge, describing it as inciting a trial by media based on rumour, conjecture, hysteria and prejudice."
"The 16-month inquest brought the conduct of eight "persons of interest" -- including Wilhelm -- on the P&O cruise liner Pacific Sky into the public spotlight. Brimble had died on the floor of a cabin shared by four of the men in September 2002.
Since then, in another court situation 'no conviction' was awarded to Mark Wilhelm on the supply charge.
In the more recent case of Sarah May Ward who was found guilty of murder by running down with her vehicle Eli Westlake, the same judge, Justice Roderick Howie stated: "She was aware that whenever she is under the influence of alcohol she is likely to act in an impulsive, aggressive manner to people or things that irritate her," he said. "It is clear that all her offending has been the result of alcohol abuse."
Sarah May Ward will spend a minimum of 18 years and nine months behind bars. In both situations there was alcohol and drug abuse. In both cases, the words, "She was an adult …." apply although only stated in the first.
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, a Baptist minister and cricket chaplain, and by no means a wowser, says that the judicial words, "She was an adult" should have significant effect across Australia.
This 'signal' has both positives and negatives.
In his view, after 33 years in Christian ministry, there is an widely held opinion by the citizens of Australia that men are held to a higher level of responsibility and accountability as befits a 'gentlemen' in which he interprets as a 'good mate'.
The Australian notion of being a 'gentleman' says M V Tronson has little to do with the Elizabethan cinematic illusions of wealthy aristocrats. Rather, he says, it has to do with that of 'mateship' and a recognition that a 'good mate' looks after his woman and the kids. If there is a fall to be made, he takes the fall.
M V Tronson says that in his view, this is part and parcel of Australian lore from Banjo Patterson's outback literature, and even Waltzing Matilda glances sideways to it. We can see it in the Anzac's and even the latest WWI Australian movie Beneath Hill 60' echoes it.
It's crude and its basic, and exemplified and simplified by USA comedian and movie star Bob Hope throughout WWII when entertaining the troops, by pointing to the dance floor girls, exclaiming, (to the roar of approval by military audiences), "This is what we're fighting for boys!!"
M V Tronson says that the Court is correct and true, but it could also be construed as over-kill. Yes, of course women are responsible for their own actions in how they conduct themselves. If they chose to take prohibited substances, we all recognise they themselves are responsible. And again, should they binge drink with subsequent dire consequences, we recognise it was a decision they made in the beginning as they took that first drink.
What is clear, is that although men will take steps to care for their women, there is a clear mandate that women are singularly first and foremost, responsible for themselves and their behaviours. (In past eras, this also primarily included the children, but now many men share this responsibility up front).
This obviously applies to both 'men' and 'women'. Regardless of the action any man or woman takes, be it foolish, illegal, selfish, tomfoolery (whatever), a man is just as responsible as is a woman for decisions and subsequent consequences. But now, like a line in the sand: "She was an adult …."
As a commentator, M V Tronson says, that both 'men' and 'women' make independent decisions on a host of issues, yet sadly, but not incomprehensibly, sometimes the outcomes lead to consequences they and others did not expect. The words "She was an adult" has rung in the ears of the nation.
Now for a different take!
As a Christian Minister, M V Tronson says, the good book has much to say about the way we conduct ourselves. The New Testament in its theology frees women to be responsible human beings and freed from enslavement of every kind including male domination (whether that has worked out in practise is another issue - but this is one of the reasons Christian missionaries continue to go to the furtherest ends of the earth).
Its theology is clear - Salvation for women too is an independent decision, and surprise, surprise, it doesn't need a man!
Any woman can make a decision to follow Jesus, any woman can choose to serve the Lord in Ministry and be in leadership (business, corporate, education, policing, politics, Christian ministry ….)
M V Tronson says, that for many men in a changing world, this has been something of a revelation and very difficult to handle, indeed, even for some in responsible theological positions.