Therefore, I was fascinated by a story similar to Paul Hogan's, which detailed how an Australian citizen was handed an Australian Taxation Office 'Departure Prohibition Order' (DPO) - which the court subsequently lifted – but who was detained the following week when another DPO was issued to him.
An appeal was later heard in court, where Justice Logan remarked:
"That sort of scenario I would usually visit, if proved, with a term of imprisonment for the officer concerned and for those who counselled or procured that course," (Justice Logan said of the tax office's actions). The tax office agreed to lift the second DPO the day prior to the court hearing.
The article continued: It was presumed by the ATO that Mr Pattenden was avoiding tax because he had a business based offshore in a known tax haven, but in the end, , Mr David Hughes, the lawyer defending Pattenden said, he was found to have no tax liability at all and he was completely exonerated
This should not be taken that this is the norm, far from it. But it does raise an interesting question. What happens when faced with a public servant who appears to be 'over zealous'. In this case the Judge threatened (as above) the public servant/s involved a prison sentence.
Let's make it clear, I am not talking here about those whose deep pockets are such, that they can keep the Commonwealth at bay with legal tactics and other ploys which keeps the 'game' going round and round.
Most of us only have limited resources to pay for justice. We've all read and heard of those hapless Australian citizens who have had to sell their family home to finance their justice, or defend themselves.
Recently a grand father in Queensland who was falsely accused of rape and incest had to sell their caravan to pay for their justice (a DNA test) and all they got was an apology from a Departmental representative.
Sometimes a top lawyer is willing to work pro-bono to make a name for themselves or defeat what they deem is an unjust situation. But where does that leave the rest of us?
Many people simply give up. They can see no way out although in their heart they feel terribly wronged. And we might also note that the hapless public servant is often on a win to nothing. Stress leave is often the end result.
But public servants do have serious responsibilities. When information comes to them that appears to have been 'searched properly', and they are employed to defend the Commonwealth of Australia, (that's us), or a State (also us), in many cases, to protect the National (or State) exchequer, what choice do they have?
It becomes more pronounced when dealing with issues associated with families and children. This is the 'fine line' trod by every public servant. Who would want to be a public servant? When something goes wrong, it seems that everyone ducks for cover!
In a more recent example a woman with five small children abandoned by her husband (under the care of the relevant Department of Housing case officer). She suffered a still birth and was left without any place to stay and slept with three of her children in their motor vehicle. The official response was that the case worker made an 'honest mistake'.
The higher up the tree a public servant is, the greater the responsibility they feel to 'get it right'. This applies to those employed within Centrelink (working against fraudulent claims) as it does to Customs Officers, (protecting our borders from contraband to human trafficking).
But when a lack of du diligence on their part comes to light, where, under the historical Westminister system, does that someone wears the dunces hat. Public confidence might be more forthcoming with a system that openly reveals where the failure in the system occurred (which public servant's action failed in the du diligence).
So what about this suggestion to bring Christmas cheer to the nation.
Once an accused Australian citizen is shown to be cleared - each public servant in the chain of command from bottom to top, (in their decision to go-after the citizen), in an open hearing, provide an account of their deliberations.
As it is customary for any Australian citizen to be bought under such a microscope, why not the same for those who are involved in the process to bring 'anyone of us' to account? Or is this placing too much onus on the hapless Public Servant?