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By SUSAN MERRELL
*Dr Susan Merrell is an Australian journalist with a PhD in political science who has covered the Julian Moti affair extensively.
Her special interests include reporting on Australian involvement in the Pacific Islands.
Having ‘double standards’ is the accusation Fijian-born Julian Moti, former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, has levelled at the Australian government.
This is over the differing treatment of his case to the one, currently under investigation, of the Australian Parliamentary Speaker, Peter Slipper.
Dubious sexual allegations were made against both men and in both cases evidence was uncovered that the allegations had been politically motivated – but that’s where the similarity ends, according to Mr Moti QC.
“This sort of persecutory litigation is oppressive and should be dealt with swiftly to minimise damage to the accused,” said the constitutional law expert.
“The Gillard government should be commended for its stance on the dubious charges against slipper.
I only wish similar largesse had been extended to another of their Australian citizens in similar circumstances – me.”
Prominent human-rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC has been retained by Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to defend Mr Slipper and Ms Roxon has made an application to the courts to have the case dismissed – citing, political motivations.
Yet, although evidence was uncovered in the Moti case to establish the same circumstances, Mr Moti got none of the government assistance proffered to Mr Slipper but instead was ruthlessly pursued through three countries and over six years – right up to and including the High Court of Australia.
There Mr Moti won his case in an overwhelming 6:1 decision because of an abuse of process so egregious that it warranted a permanent stay of prosecution.
Indeed, Justice Debra Mullins, while hearing the Moti case in late 2009 told the Supreme Court of Queensland that the apparent political motivations of the Moti case had no bearing whatsoever.
Is the ‘double standard’ explained by the fact that Australia’s parliament is currently precariously balanced in favour of the Labor Party and the removal of Peter Slipper would tip that balance, while there was neither a politically advantageous nor disadvantageous solution to the Moti Affair?
Lawyers representing Julian Moti, have made contact with the Australian authorities offering to open a dialogue that could bring the six-year saga of what has been dubbed ‘Motigate’ to a close.
Mr Moti is claiming substantial damages from the Commonwealth and its agencies.
Critics of the Australian Federal Police pursuit of Mr Moti say it was because his legal expertise was perceived as a threat to the Australian-run Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
“I want this ordeal to come to an end,” Mr Moti stated “but when there is no politically motivated solution, I am forced to wonder whether I will be treated with the same consideration as the Speaker, or whether the Commonwealth will, once again, drag this case out until the courts finally impose sense on them?”
A request for a comment from Ms Roxon was rebuffed earlier this week.
A similar request to Leader of Government Business, Anthony Albanese, who has also been vocal on the Slipper affair, was unanswered at time of going to press.
Mr Moti’s lawyer’s are yet to receive a reply from either the Australian Government Solicitor’s office or from Ms Roxon or Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, who were copied in on the correspondence delivered more than 10 days ago.