Family Law - dirty business

A personal story offered to the 2019 Inquiry into the Australian Family Court.

Most people would not believe that a group of NSW government Ministers would resort to fraud and theft in order to cover up their own wrongdoing. Whenever I have mentioned this story to people over the past three decades, they look at me with stunned looks of disbelief and confusion. To accuse so many and prove the involvement of those at the highest levels of government, law and media is not a simple matter.

The accused have had me fooled until 2012. I had believed that this NOTICE TO REMOVE VESSEL was genuine but now I know that it is FAKE.

For a long time I had not been paying, enough attention to notice that it does not carry the official seal of the Maritime Authority. Furthermore my Freedom of Information search in 2017 has revealed that there is no record that it ever existed or that it was ever issued.

(Click here to read the results of a Freedom of information and the cover-up perpetrated by none other than the Commissioner of The NSW Independent Commission against Corruption, David Ipp.) in 2013.

Before explaining this I should name the people responsible. The list is long and at the top is Bob Carr, Australia's former Foreign Minister and Bruce Baird a former NSW Maritime Minister and father of the recent NSW Premier, Mike Baird, follow him. In 1986, Bob Carr was NSW Planning and Environment Minister. He involved himself in my business in a most underhanded way.

Karen and I had only recently married and we returned from Melbourne to live near the Murray River at the sister towns of Barham-Koondrook. There were two houseboats in the area. Sergeant Mervin Frichot built and lived aboard one. He was the recently retired police sergeant of Koondrook. The other houseboat Shady Lady belonged to Jack Keck and Eric Membrey. She was available for hire from 1985. She would tie-up at the pump structure which supplied Barham with drinking water. That location was central to the town and just behind the School of Arts Hall. It was highly visible from the bridge which connected the two towns. Council allowed the parking of patron's cars on the large grassed area.

We also wanted to build and live aboard a houseboat. It was to be very large by Australian standards at the time and we wanted it to comply with all legal requirements. We were fortunate to have enough money to build it professionally. There was a good deal of interest shown in our design and we saw a good business opportunity to build our first vessel, live aboard for a while and sell it to see if we could make a living that way.

The Maritime Authorities were charged with encouraging commercial marine development. I had learned this two years earlier when I was working on the construction of the paddlesteamer "Emmylou" at Etucha. Our proposal fitted perfectly within the charter. Also, we were located in a regional area which needed employment opportunities.

We wrote this letter to NSW Maritime asking them how we should proceed and we applied for a mooring licence at Koondrook. Maritime did not reply for months and our many phone calls went nowhere. There was clearly a problem which were not aware of at the time.

Eventually Captain Stacey from Maritime's Sydney Office revealed the truth behind the delays. He told us that Bob Carr and his Planning Department were preparing a plan for the Murray River which was causing great confusion among many the various arms of government. He suggested we make a speedy and simple application.

Meanwhile our frustrations with Maritime not adhering to their very own "Regulations for living on Vessels" led us to approach Mr Jim Small MP with our second proposal. He was our local member of parliament and he was most supportive of our Botel Marina Plan.

(Read more about the Botel proposal here)

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