We have had some unfortunate incidents at awards shows this past few months. First, we had action hero Will Smith give a slap to not-so-funnyman Chris Rock at the Oscars, just before he picked up the award for best actor.
And now, in the past few days, we have had talk show host Lisa Wilkinson, at the TV Week Logie Awards, spit on the principles of due process of the law whilst making a smug and self-serving speech accepting the Logie award for best chat show host.
I don’t have a law degree, and nor am I particularly good at Latin (despite recently investing 4 years of adult education on trying to learn it), but I am familiar with legal concepts such as sub judice (before the courts) and extra-curial (outside the court) punishment.
Lisa Wilkinson, in making a widely televised speech covering the topic of the alleged rape of her now friend Brittney Higgins by a co-worker in Parliament House, has derailed the rape trial for that accused man. It has now been delayed for the time being, because the court accepts that the speech was prejudicial to the chances of the accused of getting a fair trial.
Due process of the law is a long established right and legal protection afforded to people under English Common Law jurisdictions such as Australia. It stems from the one clause (chapter 26 in its original form) of the Magna Carta which has not been repealed in any jurisdiction.
The Magna Carta was a treaty between King John and his rebellious barons signed in 1215, and which was reissued by subsequent kings over several generations.
What started as a contract between the king and his barons has become the established cornerstone of our constitutional law and legal protections and rights.
It is this, the protections that have emerged as contracts between crown and people, which have made me a supporter of the Australian constitutional monarchy. [Please note that after seeing Turin, former seat of the House of Savoy, I was so disgusted that I could not support the Italian royals and hence support the Italian Republic – although as I so far decline to claim my Italian citizenship, that is a moot point.]
Lisa Wilkinson is more, however, than just a smug and overpaid Sydney TV chat show host. She is the wife of Peter Fitzsimmons, the bandana wearing (I truly hope he is balder than I am) current president of the Australian Republican Movement.
In recent weeks, with the swearing in of an assistant minster for the Republic as part of the new socialist government, wealthy republicans like Mr Fitzsimmons have been smugly emerging from their wine cellars to proclaim the second coming of a constitutional referendum to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a republic.
Leader of the Greens, Dr Adam Bandt, has started holding press conferences minus the Australian flag, as it causes pain to some people, and enables him to showcase his republicanism and lack of patriotic feeling.
But back to Mrs Fitzsimmons. This prominent republican is so uninformed about our long established legal rights and protections that she can proudly proclaim her ignorance in a smug and self-serving speech – a speech which has violated the rights of a fellow citizen to both presumption of innocence and due process of the law.
I think that this ignorance is not unique to Lisa Wilkinson and her husband, but extends right across the spectrum of Australian Republicans, who for some reason (lack of money not being amongst them) feel outrage at the current constitutional arrangements, and see injustice in everything except their own behaviour and ignorance.
And I cannot let this matter rest without a gentle nod at Australia Day. Whilst Dr Bandt would like to get rid of our current flag and Australia Day, the Fitzsimmonses do not see a problem with celebrating Australia Day. In their well heeled Sydney north shore mansion, they hold an annual soiree for fellow wealthy celebrities on 26 January.
The hypocrisy of that is almost as cringe worthy as the arrogance and ignorance which underpinned Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech.