Mark Rix-Getting The Balance Right

For many people issues of human rights, social justice and counter-terrorism legislation are issues that might occasionally arise but don’t pervade their life. For Mark Rix these issues are the focus of much of his research, research which given the current political and social landscape post 9/11 seems all too relevant.


Mark Rix is a senior lecturer at The Sydney Business School and the University of Wollongong. Despite his work in the business school, much of his research focuses on the legalities of human rights and terrorism laws in both Australia and abroad. This interest he claims stems from his early work on the Management committee at the Illawarra legal center, this is where he began “Researching into Justice and the role of the community legal sector”. This though was just the beginning of Mark’s research, as from here he delved into counter-terrorism measures, how this impedes on human rights and how often in the face of a terrorist threat, or supposed threat our laws become arbitrary.


Many of Mark’s papers propose different measures, that he and at times other academics believe should be taken. In our interview he expressed a desire to see lawmakers tackle terrorism as a social problem, stating terrorism laws are based on “to much deterrence, to much prevention and not enough focus on justice.” He often cites the case of Mohamed Haneef as a prime example of too much, and un-just prevention.


The question of how necessary counter-terrorism laws are is always the point of conjecture, with no one conclusive answer. Rix admits that there is a need for counter-terrorism measures but is dubious about the implications on human rights and the secrecy involved in intelligence gathering. Mark himself stated governments need “more transparency and accountability”, stating that the two “go together”.   Given the recent Australia Indonesia spying debacle one could see merit in what Mark says about transparency and accountability. Whilst the question of how much transparency is needed is still something Mark is unsure of, he is certain that at present Australia and many other nations don’t have enough transparency in it’s intelligence gathering operations. To sum up this sentiment Mark stated, “It comes down to how much secrecy do we need and if there is so much secrecy how can we ever make a judgment”.


Mark is also an advocate of human rights, something that is often touched upon in his articles. He believes that Australia having never adopted a Bill of Rights is at odds with human rights, however he does admit that often even in a country such as America where there is a Bill of Rights it is often overlooked.  Whilst often legislation created in the wake of 9/11 in Australia, such as a Witness Non-disclosure statement, is often not used Mark believes the problem is more that “the legislation is there and can be used”.


Mark Rix’s research certainly bears relevance to the issues of the day and should be considered very authoritative. There are still many questions regarding the balance of human rights and counter terrorism, but Mark still doesn’t believe the right balance has been struck. Maybe in time his ideal of more transparency and accountability will become a reality of policy making.



New Roads For Drug Users

Layout of the website prior to being shut down.

Layout of the website prior to being shut down.

The Silk Road website was for many the ultimate bazaar for anything illegal, predominantly illicit drugs with this being no exception to Australians who were frequent users of the website. But what does it’s closure mean now for those who frequented the popular website?

On the 3 October F.B.I. agents arrested Ross Ulbricht for allegedly creating and overseeing the Silk Road operations. This subsequently led to the website being shutdown with all clients bitcoins (currency used to make purchases on the site) being seized indefinitely by the F.B.I.

Speaking to an Australian user of the site who wishes to remain unnamed he expressed his anger over the loss of his bitcoins. “I probably had close to three hundred dollars worth online, and I can’t get access to them now. I also have mates with more bitcoins they can’t get to, he stated. The user also believes that the closure will simple lead to more websites of the same nature being established, or that users will just revert back to the older ways of obtaining drugs, on the street.

At present there are already other websites emerging that could fill the void that the closure of Silk Road has left. Much of the Silk Road community has taken to Reddit

to discus possible new avenues to obtain illicit products, with talk of a second Silk Road being in development. When asked about the prospect of a second Silk Road the user responded, “That would be great but it would need to be even more secure because we all thought the first one was secure.”

Undoubtedly the closure of Silk Road has sent a shiver down the community, with their online funds being seized and their ease of purchasing illegal products being hindered. However, will the implications of closing such a site create further problems as some propose and will the closure only give rise to other sites of a similar nature?

Outrage Still Lingers

On October 3rd former Labor member Bill Shorten, whilst addressing Labor members in the Illawarra, was bombarded with protests from those affected by the Trio Capital Collapse, which occurred in 2009. The Victims of Financial Fraud (VOFF), as their collective has come to be known, is outraged at their lack of compensation and at the former minister of Financial Services and Superannuation for his treatment of the victims.


According to Paul Matters, a spokesperson for VOFF it is estimated that 32 million dollars have been lost as a result of the Trio Collapse, or as he like to refer to it as being a case of fraud. Many of those affected were compensated as is stipulated in Part 23 of the SIS Act, however the act excludes compensation for those in self-managed super funds (SMSF). Members of SMSF’S claim they were just as oblivious to what was happening to their money.


VOFF is angered at Mr. Shorten for his treatment of the victims. They claim he associated blame to the victims rather then look at the flaws in the regulatory commissions, that seemingly let fraudulent acts go by until it was too late. Matters referred to the Labor part by stating, “The Labor Party, especially in parliament was extremely hostile.” He went on to elaborate that Labor’s reaction was to try and maintain confidence in a regulatory system with he agreed was anachronistic in a global economy. Mr. Matters said, “The world has passed them by”.


VOFF is not only angered at the Labor government but also at the regulatory commissions APRA and ASIC for not investigating the international scale of the collapse. The scale of which is quite astounding, with investments being supposedly oversaw by Trio Capital going to Hong Kong and then being invested all over the world. A 2013 Australian Treasury report showed that investments went as far as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and St Lucia.


Clearly VOFF members are still outraged at the ineffectiveness of both the Labor Government and the regulatory commissions. They will continue to protest and try to gain awareness for their cause, with Mr. Matters stating their end game is for, “Full compensation to be paid and there should be an investigation by Federal Police.”

“Mark 1” Still Marooned


Since 2009 a decommissioned wave generator has been sitting just off the coast of Port Kembla. After the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) threatened legal action against Oceanlinx, the company has promised to attempt to remove the generator by Christmas 2013.


However, after speaking to a spokesperson for the Roads and Maritime Services it would appear that legal action is yet again being taken against Ocenlinx. As of yet the “Mark 1” generator remains eroding off the Port Kembla shoreline. Understandably this causes environmental concern for the waters surrounding the generator, and also the coastline, which is frequently tarnished by parts off the generator.


Considering the ecological concerns the eroding wave generator is posing, it is understandable that RMS has threatened legal action against Oceanlinx. The RMS spokesperson stated, “Roads and Maritime has written to Oceanlinx requesting decommissioning and removal of the barge. The company indicated it would remove the device but this has not happened.”


As of July this year, in an Illawarra Mercury article, Oceanlinx chairman Tibor Vertes states that the company had already begun in proceeding to remove the Wave Generator, with equipment being brought in from over seas to remove the dismantled generator. Obviously RMS still doesn’t deem the dismantlement of the generator to be moving quickly enough.  As a result the spokesperson for RMS said that: “Roads and Maritime is now starting legal proceedings to ensure that it is removed within an agreed time frame.


RMS didn’t comment as to how far these legal proceedings will go if Oceanlinx doesn’t meet it’s requirement, however this will certainly apply pressure to the company.  As of yet cleanup costs are still unknown. A former employee of Oceanlinx estimated that costs could be in the millions, however this figure is dismissed by Mr Vertes. Regardless, it will undoubtedly cost Oceanlinx to remove the wave generator that has been slowly eroding since 2009.

“I’m Sorry”

This is the famous Frost/Nixon interview, and probably the most important part where David Frost exhumed the closest thing to an omission of guilt from the former President. One thing that stands out is the camera work in the interview, I think the zoom in and close up captures the President at his most vulnerable. This idea is also acknowledged in the film Frost Nixon (one I would highly recommend).

However, one could question how authentic Nixon’s apology was after reading through Jonathan Aitken’s article on the faults in the film. The article doesn’t only point out faults in the film but also according to Jack Brennan, an aid to the President, the interview was much more staged than one would be lead to believe. Whether or not Brennan is being disingenuous is another matter, but it certainly provides an interesting alternative to the widely perceived idea of the interview.