Stephen Langford’s day started with a defiant poem and ended with a conviction, after a Sydney court ruled a pro-refugee message the 62-year-old scrawled on a billboard in liquid chalk met the definition of an aggravated graffiti charge.
“Australians tend to believe we have the right to political expression, and yet when it is tested in court as it was today, continually it is shown that we do not.”
Mr Davis said people should be able to defend such charges on grounds of political speech without having to prove that the law is unconstitutional.
Allies of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have ramped up a push for a last-minute pardon from President Trump, enlisting a lobbyist with connections to the administration, trying to rally supporters across the political spectrum and filing a clemency petition with the White House.
“This is so much bigger than Julian,” said Mark Davis, a former journalist who worked with Mr. Assange in Australia, where they are from. If Mr. Assange is prosecuted, “it will have a chilling effect on all national security journalism,” Mr. Davis said, adding: “If we can get Julian off, then the precedent hasn’t been set. If Julian goes down, then it’s bad for all of us.”
As lawyers, we will always tell you to watch out for the small print.
So, last week as the nation was transfixed with federal Parliament passing its record-breaking, ideology-defying $130 billion jobs rescue package, something else snuck through.
That something is a piece of ’small print’ giving the Treasurer, at the stroke of his pen, extraordinary new powers to change the Corporations Act.
Nick Xenophon and former journalist Mark Davis say their new law firm won’t be operating “in the dark”.
The former state and federal politician and the ABC and SBS reporter have set up shop in Sydney and want to exploit the reluctance of Australian lawyers to spruik for their clients.
“We are an unusual mix,” Mr Davis said of the new firm, “but we strike across law, media and politics quite elegantly and that is where the practice is sitting.