Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Talking Heads -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) See you next time. Closed Captions by CSI . THEME MUSIC Occasionally on Talking Heads charged, like Geoffrey Robertson. we get guest who's really turbo his television Hypotheticals, He's best known here for but his legal star rose in London, of human rights and free speech. where he became a champion - Kathy Lette, He's an author and is married to one

relationship. which I doubt is a low stress Geoffrey, good to meet you. We'll find out. Welcome to Talking Heads. Peter, hi. Thank you. for your vowels? I believe you blame the ABC at all until I was five. Well, in a way. I didn't speak could understand me. Or not so that anyone interior monologue. No doubt I was having some

But when I did talk, strangulated English vowels it was in the rather of those ABC announcers. spanning about forty years... You've had a legal career Gosh, is it as long as that? ..what have you cared most about? acting for the underdog I started, in a sense, as a way of, at least, and using the law letting the underdog run free.

But right from the start - actually, free of charge - I started acting for Aborigines

Aboriginal Legal Service in the 60s. before even the And it was a very moving thing to do and up against the law in a big way. because they were up against it which has driven you most? So which is the thing Has it been love of the law of social conscience? or care for a particular things contrary, it's a hard taskmistress. I don't love the law. On the

it is a way of helping people But it is a device, and it's the people that you love, the people you hate and even, you know, sometimes where there's a principle at stake. her lost of virginity Aren't you aiding and abetting by prescribing the pill? most in Australia for Hypotheticals. 'To the wider public you are known to indulge in theatre, That allows you one of your great loves.' which has always been as a writer, but never as an actor. Yes, as a spectator and occasionally like most barristers. I think I am a ham actor, are quite different. But, no Hypotheticals producer was Fred Friendly - Hypotheticals began - my first Goodnight and Good Luck, I don't know whether you've seen Ed Murrow producer but he was the great by George Clooney. who was played in that film bright when he recruited me He was a lot older, but still pretty because he was the guy, the genius out of the Harvard classroom who'd taken Hypotheticals and put them in a TV program. there'd been a study that said, And why Hypotheticals, was because talking heads on television and you'll like this, for three minutes. can only be endured I'm going to give you thirty. a talking head was three minutes. The attention span for And this was, the idea was to make - around a horseshoe table, with 16 talking heads surprising and imaginative to make it sufficiently to concentrate that people would be able because they'd be following a story. and his daughter are on board Affirmative. Geoffrey and ready for take off. Over. Please don't. Beg your pardon? 'I was born in 1946 on September 30. the Nuremburg judgement.' In fact, it was the day of criminal law was born. On the day that international

a humanitarian 'My mother has always been She's been my moral compass, really, from a very early age.' that instilled in me

the Kittyhawk, I owe my life. To this aircraft, the Curtiss B40, it brought my father - In the sense that

a young Australian fighter pilot - against the Japanese war-machine.' home safely after countless missions

of my father. I was always very proud fighter pilot during the war. He was an incredibly handsome moustache. 'Cultivated the Errol Flynn and played tennis with me. He was terrific. He took me surfing was always very happy. My family life to revolt against. I never had anything a different person if I had. I might have been a banker/stock broker? Your father was in a bank. Well, my father was a teller and he gradually moved up. That's how he started to the Commonwealth Bank building I would go in with him on Saturdays and hear Jack Davey and I'd go to the State Theatrette describing on Movietone News in his excited voice, what was happening in the world. actually is of Movietone News I think one of my first memories, going to their execution. of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg have been about six at the time. I was very moved by that. I must a mother was just - But to kill, in cold blood, even then, was pretty astounding.

clustered in the private schools No doubt most barristers are when they are children. You went to Epping Boys High. Yes. To my delight, actually, I could spend another hour in bed. because just been erected... We went to the local Epping, And I remember going on the train, from the private schools - you'd see the kids there was no bad feeling, got on well with them, we were doing The Tempest but, I noticed - for our leaving certificate - a different edition. and these guys would have So you had the abridged version? edition and I found to my amazement, I went to Dymocks, I bought their we had the bowdlerised edition. so much had been cut out because of the Tempest And so much of the plot attempted rape of Miranda, stems round Caliban's that wasn't there at all. well, of course And the irony that Shakespeare's to premarital chastity, great injunction her virgin-knot But, if thou dost break before all sanctimonious sacrifices ministered, are with full and holy rite this contract grow then no sweet aspersion shall let but barren hate, sour-eyed disdain the union of your bed and discourse shall bestrew that you shall hate it both. with weeds so loathly as hymen's lamp shall light you." Therefore take heed I remember this, because of course, I memorised all the so-called dirty bits, the crucial bits to the plot and parroted them back to the examiners and got first-class honours. Censorship, from that point on, seemed to me entirely stupid and, indeed, counterproductive. One thing private school education, rightly or wrongly, gives children, often is an overdose of self-confidence. What about your state school experience. What tends to sap self-confidence at that age is acne, quite frankly. I had a heavy dose. So that... It may - that may have...that certainly helped my workaholism because you didn't socialise much at 16 with heavy acne. So I did develop, I'm afraid, a lifelong tendency to work very hard with no other distractions. 'It was lovely to return to Sydney University recently,

to receive an honorary doctorate.' Geoffrey Robertson is one of the world's foremost human rights lawyers. He's a graduate in Arts and Law from this University. He was not then to know that in later life he would be prosecuting General Pinochet, or training judges to try Saddam Hussein. 'In those days I was president of the Student's Representative Council.

And in fact, that's me here - at a student meeting. Gosh, I was gawky then.' In 1970, I received my law degree and left for Oxford as Rhodes Scholar. (CHANTING) Free Richard Neville

'While I was still a postgraduate at Oxford, I motored down to London to work on the defence of Oz Magazine. It was my first Old Bailey trial. I met John Mortimer and we became firm friends and very soon I entered his chambers and worked with him on a lot of other equally famous cases.' I did a wide range of causes celebres. There was the Michael X case, now they've made a film of it, The Bank Job. There was the ABC case - young journalists who found out more than the government thought they should about spying and international espionage. REPORTER: 'Heading an Amnesty International mission to South Africa for the case was British QC, Geoffrey Robertson.' There have been 66 people who have been hanged already this year. 65 of them black, or coloured. Of course, Ian was facing death. Public execution by firing-squad. 'Whether I was attracted to causes celebres or they were attracted to me, I'm not quite sure. I think we got on well with each other. I didn't seem to do anything else in those years.' Armed and equipped to go into battle. I often wonder, in life, if you don't meet people, or certain people whether life would have been different. Now one of the things John Mortimer obviously gave you, perhaps, was an opening to the idea that fun and literature and art could be combined with law. Certainly in the cases that we did in those days which effectively ended censorship in Britain. I was thinking about extra-curricular activities, too. About - as John Mortimer wrote those scripts for Rumpole, you diverted away from a narrow pursuit of the law. I wrote about the...I started as an investigative journalist and I started to write for the New Statesman which... I thought I'd give up law, I thought I'd actually concentrate on writing and the editor said no, that's a very bad idea - you should do law and then write about law. So I took his advice and I wrote a book. I think the first book was about a rigged IRA trial. I'd become very concerned.

But at that time, it was not a wise thing to write books about miscarriages of justice. So, my first book, it was hailed, I think in the Irish Times as a book that knocks the stuffing out of British Justice. But it didn't - it was noted by the Special Branch. It didn't go down too well. (CHOIR SINGS) 'The defence of human rights has always been very much part of my work. I made myself available to be a judge in Sierra Leone which had suffered the worst of war crimes.' Wasn't it clear that they should never be used in hostilities? That you don't put a 12-year-old into the front line of battle? Here I am, not at a pop concert but an Amnesty International gathering. It is important to try to make human rights comprehensible, try to make it understandable. We found seven warlords who were commercial lawyers. They wouldn't know a human right if they fell over it. And it was brilliant because they read the Torture Convention as though it were a contract - as though it were a commercial contract. They said, well, it means what it says. Geoffrey founded and heads up Britain's largest human rights law practice and he ended the death penalty in the Caribbean. There's a presumption, in other words, in international law that David Hicks IS protected by the Geneva Convention. Saddam Hussein should be entitled to a mercy procedure. There's a barristers rule - the cab rank rule - by which you're under an obligation to be the next cab off the rank when approached by someone wanting to be defend themselves. Have you ended up defending despicable individuals? Oh, I'm sure. I've acted - oh, well, of course,

for people accused of murder, of paedophilia. You might get excrement in the letterbox You've had...I've had...gosh, of multiple murders,

I've acted for people accused of terrorism. How successful are you in making that separation of mind between the probability that they're guilty and your professional role. Well, it's always difficult because you always form a view. And when the defendant tells you that he is guilty,

then you have to say, "Well, I'll do a great mitigation speech for you, but I won't defend you." So, it's pretty easy in that sense, but you never can tell. I had one case, in fact a famous case

that led to the fall of the Tory Government in Britain, where a man was brought to me, an arms dealer it would seem and I read the papers before he came in and it looked as though he was bang to rights - he'd been selling arms, bomb-making equipment to Saddam Hussein. So, it turned out that - and the government had prosecuted him to cover up its own role in encouraging bomb-making trade with Saddam. You found yourself on the verge of the court

defending the gym-club owner who had taken those distasteful photographs of Princess Diana. You were no white knight, really, in that role. The overwhelming sympathy was with Princess Diana. Probably. I... I'm not sure I'd call it overwhelming sympathy. She was trying to create a law of privacy and in circumstances where she had done everything to draw attention to herself, including doing the gymnastics in the window where small children were passing and saying, oh, look at Princess Diana. So, it was going to be a very interesting case.

My real sadness about that case is, of course, is that she wanted to be seen as the winner, so she paid the defendant an enormous amount of money to pretend that he'd lost. Turn back the whirligigs of time a mere 200 years and so our convict convoy, assembled here at Portsmouth they took all the brutal baggage of British colonisation... 'I've always had the desire to communicate. I guess I've written about ten or eleven books.' Geoffrey the new book has arrived from the publisher. Ah-ha, terrific. There it is. That's not a bad cover. 'I've written plays, made documentaries. I guess I'm best known in Australia for Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals. I've done them in New Zealand, in Britain and America

and other places as well.' We're friends and relatives and neighbours, ladies and gentlemen, who live in the picturesque town of Melanoma. Tonight's Hypothetical examines the war on drugs. It's what Gung Ho calls relatively democratic - which means that the people who get elected tend to be his relatives. The loggerhead tortoise, the Port Arthur crocodile, the noisy scrub-hawk, the red-faced Memphis trouser-snake. (AUDIENCE TITTERS) You never know what people are going to say and you never know what plot development you'll have to devise on the spot. REPORTER: We've been warned to keep out of his way before the show. He needs to prepare himself mentally and cope with the pre-program nerves. You are, let us assume, the Premier of a corrupt, ramshackle piece of real estate in Australia's north. Well, you...you...oh. You've never won an honest election in your life, your public utterances sound something like a cane toad in a blender - what do you plan to do next? They brought me back to my old high school. Epping Boys High School. This is where the moral dilemmas began. And the boys are staging a special Hypothetical for me today. Welcome to today's Hypothetical, on the topic of freedom. Hypotheticals is about moral dilemmas. Mr Robertson, given the gradual increases in government powers, what are the implications of this for the freedom that we hold? The way other civilised countries curb this tendency is to have a Bill of Rights.

TV: Other kids from your island home were not so lucky? I've just done a hypothetical. It's been done for NITV.

The National Indigenous television station and it's always a great relief, actually to finish. I think I'm both exhilarated and exhausted. So, a nice cold beer is appropriate at the moment. Back in 2005 you wrote the Tyrannicide Brief, which is a very thick book - the historian in you came out. It did. Yes, I've always been... fascinated by this crucible period. The 1640s and 50s where democracy was really born, when the King was overthrown and put on trial, when free speech flourished, John Milton, the greatest - other than Shakespeare. The period when relative religious freedom,

when judges were made independent - all of these great values - when torture was stopped. So, I was - it took a long time. I went back to my roots as a historian to try to tell something that I felt professional historians had failed to appreciate about the importance of the trial of Charles 1. Do you see a thread, between that sort of role -

that conception and what you ended up doing - was law inevitable? No, I was the first in the family to study law. I suppose law was something that was fed up to me. I was good at debating, I was good at writing, that was the sort of thing. I wanted, I suppose, ultimately to be a historian. Law became a kind of professional necessity, there wasn't perceived to be much money in history. and I've always wondered whether I should have stayed with history. Probably, had I gone to a private school, had my parents been massively wealthy

if I hadn't been at Epping, sort of lower-middle class scholarship kid, I might have pursued my goal. Kathy wrote a book How to Kill Your Husband. Yes. People often mistake me for characters in my wife's fiction, I have to say. Two such tumultuous figures. I do remember there was a lot of publicity when we got together, unfortunately because, of course,

Kathy was in a marriage with Kim Williams and I was in a relationship, expected to marry Nigella Lawson and so the gossip columns in two countries went to town. Do you know why Daddy's such a good rower? He went to Oxford. That's right. 'I met Kathy Lette, actually, on stage, at Brisbane Town Hall on a Hypothetical. She was a last-minute replacement for Kylie Minogue. I needed someone attractive, young, vibrant.' Kathy Lette, would you try to stop me? I would tackle him and give him a few swift kicks while he was down there. But I would try to stop him. We sat up that night and talked till 5:00am and then we just couldn't stay apart. Two weeks later he asked me to get married. It was very romantic. I got married in my court attire because I had a very important case and my arguments went on, as barristers do. The loneliness of the long-winded barrister. I missed the marriage ceremony time. I had to rush out in the Strand and hail a taxi and get up to the registry office, just in time, everyone was waiting.

So, this is the scene that I've got where they've been... This is the first draft, so don't... 'Kathy and I - well, opposites attract I guess and we both love language.' I don't think we can have that. 'We both enjoy each other's puns. I edit her work rather vigorously and she adds to mine, of course. I thought that was a really good joke. No, it doesn't work. Kathy and I live in London with our two children. Georgina is about to do her big 16-year-old intermediate exams. So that's our major concern at the moment.' OK, let's see that serve. 'Julius is terrific tennis player.' How about we warm up... No, we can't. Come on. I've been very lucky. My parents are still alive, my family has turned out well. On the other hand, I do too many things. My wife, my mother, my children have started to say, "Dad, you've got to learn to say no". It's all very well to say seize the day, do everything you can.

It does take a toll. One day something will hit me, maybe a stroke, but you just... well, as the Grateful Dead famously said, "Keep on trucking". # Truckin' - I'm goin' home # Whoa-oh baby, back where I belong # Back home sit down and patch my bones # And get back truckin' on.# Have you made many enemies along the way? I imagine I've made quite a few. I hope so, it would be a poor life indeed if you hadn't made enemies of some people who deserve it. I prosecuted people, I've judged people and sent them to prison,

I've done my best in the human rights area

to put those people who suppress human rights in jail. I started at Oxford. I joined Amnesty International. I was very disappointed because my task was to write letters And that, I suppose has been the great - one of the causes that has motivated me and made me write books like Crimes Against Humanity. The possibility of turning the grovelling letters

written to tyrants in the seventies into having them put in the dock in the 21st century. talking to you. Geoffrey, it's been good Thanks for coming on Talking Heads. Thanks, Peter. THEME MUSIC Next week, on Talking Heads, ten chefs, shows us what it takes. Tetsuya, one of the world's top one of my favourites. That's actually the best ingredients and luck. A cocktail of talent, devotion, Monday at 6:30pm of making Tetsuya's favourite dish. And this Wednesday, learn the secret Most important part of it - taste. Taste, taste. of renown. Tetsuya and our restaurants. Wednesday 6:30pm That's The Cook and the Chef, This Program Is Captioned Live. Tonight, another bikie gunned gunned down and police say more attacks are likely. It's hard to believe it's on your doorstep. One last ride. A Rebel farewelled in Canberra. Flight delay. A Flight delay. A transport workers' strike causes airport can chaos. And back to his best. Tiger Woods' comeback. Good evening, Craig Allen with ABC News. There seems to be no end to Sydney's bikie gang violence. A bikie gang violence. A week after his brother was bashed to death at Sydney Airport, Peter Zervas is in a serious several times. Gunmen condition after being shot

him in the driveway of his several times. Gunmen ambushed

mother's home. A grief-stricken mother at the centre of a bikie