Criminal Law News & Current Affairs

By Ben Aulich & Associates Ben Aulich & Associates


‘Defective’ attempt to suppress names of kangaroo cullers

The ACT government is trying to suppress the identities of kangaroo cull workers after they were mistakenly leaked to an animal rights activist earlier this month.

But a magistrate has told them their application to keep the names under wraps is “defective”, and recommended they obtain evidence from the workers about whether they felt their safety was in jeopardy.

The accidental privacy breach occurred during criminal proceedings involving anti-cull activist Theodorik Klootwijk, 70.

Klootwijk has been charged for blowing a whistle twice on the boundary of a cull site in Tuggeranong, each time after shots had been fired.

It is alleged he was trying to disrupt the head of the cull operation by scaring the animals away.

Defence lawyer Peter Woodhouse on Tuesday questioned how his client’s whistle could have scared the animals away, if it was blown after shots were fired.

“I don’t know how you can scare a kangaroo post-shot,” he said.

Klootwijk told police he was alerting the shooters to his presence, although he had previously been warned about being near the cull site with loudspeakers.

He was arrested and charged, before facing the ACT Magistrates Court.

Klootwijk was served with police documents as part of the criminal proceedings, which included a lengthy list of names of people associated with the cull operation, including one of the professional shooters, security team members, and government officials.

Such identities are typically kept under wraps for fear individuals will be targeted.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has since made an application to suppress the names, and the matter appeared before Special Magistrate Ken Cush on Tuesday.

Prosecutors argued the publication of the names would put witnesses’ safety in jeopardy.

Mr Woodhouse has argued the application did not meet the legal test for a suppression order, and criticised an affidavit tendered by prosecutors, which he said was filled with hearsay.

The magistrate told prosecutors they needed direct evidence from the named persons that they held real fear for their safety.

He told them the application was defective.

Mr Cush remarked that the application for a suppression was unusual in a case that was not a sexual offence, not a matter of national security, and, on the face of it, less serious than most.

The court heard Klootwijk had no intention of passing the names on. The suppression order would not prevent him from seeing the names.

The application was adjourned until July 30, to allow prosecutors to obtain affidavits from the named persons.

Credit: Christopher Knaus, Canberra Times