The Court of Public Opinion

The presumption of innocence has been subverted by the rush to judgement based on the tribe rather than the evidence.

The Court of Public Opinion
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

The Canberra circus has been front and centre in the news this week.

It's hard to tell the real outrage from the confected given some of the players in the ring.

The Opposition's prosecution of the government over what they knew, and when they knew it, in respect to the Brittany Higgins matter has now been derailed by allegations of sexual assault against a Liberal Senator.

Let me state from the outset that I don't know if what Lidia Thorpe claimed against  Senator Van is accurate or not.

In reality, nor does anyone else outside of the two people involved.

People will draw conclusions based on the assessment of character of the two individuals.

Others will rush to presume guilt or innocence based on the political or chromosomal tribe they want to cheer on.

I am aware of background information that I can't, and won't, repeat for legal reasons but that doesn't prove or disprove the claims made by Thorpe under parliamentary privilege.

In that respect, last night a statement about another inappropriate incident allegedly involving Senator Van was made by my friend and former colleague Amanda Stoker.

If true, the behaviour was certainly wrong but seemed to have been handled most appropriately and professionally by Stoker. I would expect nothing less from her.

It was documented and recorded rather then aired under the cover of parliamentary privilege.

Peter Dutton certainly accepted her statement as he swiftly excluded Van from the Liberal Party Room in Canberra while the allegations were investigated.

Dutton also said he makes no judgement as to the veracity of the claims made.

From the outside he just had to cauterise a political wound and could see this was shaping up to be a big problem unless dealt with in a definitive manner.

In that respect, he did what he had to do.

But there are some valid questions that need to be addressed in response to the Thorpe claims.

Not least of which is why, if the incident was so serious, the Greens Party didn't make the allegation public all those years ago?

We know they have experience at covering up these types of claims within their own Party ranks but they have never been shy about accusing others of dastardly deeds.

There's also a broader question that need to be addressed.

Why does society now tend to jump to conclusions of guilt on the basis of an allegation with no evidence?

Why is it that some claims are instantly believed while others are swiftly dismissed?

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