Magistrate snubs minute silence

Heidi Costello

A SUNSHINE Coast magistrate's decision not to stop for a minute's silence on Remembrance Day has raised the ire of returned servicemen.

Bernadette Callaghan was sitting as a coroner at an inquest into the death of 18-year-old motorcyclist Adrian Jones when she opted not to stop for the traditional minute's silence at 11am yesterday.

The Daily understands that at the time, a police officer was being questioned under oath by a barrister, who pointed out that it was 11am.

However, Ms Callaghan chose to continue.

Proceedings in other courts in the building did stop to formally recognise Remembrance Day and some people even left the court rooms to observe a minute's silence.

The patron of the Vietnam Veterans Association Sunshine Coast, Laurie Drinkwater, said Ms Callaghan should have had more respect for the men and women who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for democracy and justice in society.

“As far as I'm concerned, I think she should have stopped,” he said.

“The rest of the courts stopped.

“If it wasn't for the people that gave their lives for Australia, we probably would have a very different court system from what we have today.

“I think we should respect that and think of the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us,” he said.

“A couple of minutes in the day once a year is not going to hurt anybody.”

Naval Association of Australia's Queensland section vice-president Graham Savage said traditions such as a minute's silence were necessary to continue the memory of those who gave their lives in war.

“It's Remembrance Day, and certainly, there should be a silence,” Mr Savage said.

The Returned Services League's Queensland branch resisted buying into a debate on the decision, but released a statement encouraging the public to support for a minute's silence on Remembrance Day.

“Remembrance Day commemorates all wars and conflicts and remembers not only those who paid the supreme sacrifice so we may live in a free country, but also those who served and are serving still,” the statement said.

“RSL (Queensland Branch) encourages all people and businesses to pause for one minute's silence at 11am on November 11,” it said.

Queensland's chief magistrate Brendan Butler refused to pass judgement on Ms Callaghan.

“The observance of a minute's silence is a matter for individual magistrates having regard to the particular circumstances of the court proceedings at that time,” a spokesman for Mr Butler said.

Former RAAF officer Tony Iozzi, the community relations manager for the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra, said he believed that Ms Callaghan's decision was symptomatic of a “disconnect” in today's frenetic society from history.

“Consequently, in my view, the magistrate could have set an example to others by stopping the proceedings to acknowledge our ties to the sacrifice of past and present generations,” he said.

Ms Callaghan's office was approached for a comment, but she had not responded by late yesterday.

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