Alleged pedophile’s referee faced child sex charges
A former diplomat who was brought back to Australia to face child sex charges, John Holloway, was one of the referees who helped his colleague, alleged pedophile Robert Scoble, move to a new job at Telstra.
Scoble – arrested in Bangkok last week on pornography charges – reported to Mr Holloway in 1984 and 1985 while he was under internal investigation by the Foreign Affairs Department for procuring and disseminating sex photos of children as a diplomat.
Despite two incidents and two investigations within a year, Scoble left the department with glowing references from his superiors for a career as a Telstra executive in South-East Asia.
Mr Holloway’s involvement in the saga has raised questions about the findings of a report commissioned by the Government in 1996 to examine the allegations of a pedophile ring within the department.
It found that the department did not cover up Scoble’s activities, because those who spoke to Telstra were not aware of the investigations into his activities.
Yet the report also found it was “probable” that Scoble’s branch head – now identified as Mr Holloway – had told Telstra Scoble was held in “extremely high regard”, paving the way for the job.
Mr Holloway held the Canberra post of branch head, South-East Asia, at the time Scoble was being investigated and his subsequent departure for Telstra.
Scoble was a senior diplomat in Hanoi at the time, including stints as acting ambassador.
There are other inconsistencies in the inquiry report’s claim that no referees were aware of the investigation into Scoble.
Richard Broinowski, a former ambassador to Vietnam and another of Scoble’s referees, attended an interview by an officer when Scoble was being questioned about using a diplomatic bag to send photos of naked young men to a colleague.
Professor Broinowski yesterday recalled the interview and said he was aware of an investigation. But he reiterated that he was only aware of one photo, in which the young male subject was clothed, and he believed Scoble’s assurances that he was not a pedophile.
In another twist, the inquiry into claims of pedophilia within the department was launched by the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, just weeks after Mr Holloway was arrested and brought back to Australia to face charges under new child sex laws.
The high-profile case – Mr Holloway had been Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia – involved a charge that Mr Holloway had had sex with a 14-year-old Cambodian boy. Two Cambodian youths were brought to Australia by Federal Police to testify.
Mr Holloway denied the charge and said he had never been a pedophile. He was acquitted after the magistrate, Michael Somes, said the two young witnesses gave inconsistent evidence.
That acquittal occurred in the middle of the inquiry into Scoble’s activities. The final report by Pam O’Neil made no reference to Mr Holloway’s participation in the case. Mr Holloway, understood to be abroad, could not be contacted.
The department would not comment on Mr Holloway’s role in the Scoble affair. But it said it had introduced widespread reforms of its practices in the late 1990s and no pedophile activity had been reported among Australian diplomats since.
Scoble has been granted bail by Thai authorities after being charged on Saturday with distributing pornography and employing an unregistered worker.
It takes courage to expose scandals, particularly those involving allegations of sexual abuse, which continue to be whitewashed by powerful religious organisations such as the Exclusive Brethren. Michael Bachelard (Good Weekend and Saturday Age, 18/6) is to be congratulated for holding no punches.
I left this secretive sect in 1968 but, decades later, I cannot forget the impact of hearing confessions of sexual misdemeanours broadcast by the perpetrators over a public address system to the captive congregation, which often numbered many hundreds of shocked souls. Witnesses present on those occasions will remember that any notion of reporting these matters to the authorities would not be countenanced. The confessors would be forgiven or not by the church elders at their whim. Everyone in the congregation understood that the Brethren constituted the highest “court” in the land. Victims from those far off days who read this and still bear the shame should take heart from Bachelard’s compelling articles and speak out about their trauma.
It is no surprise that the Exclusive Brethren has gone into damage control and employed public relations spin doctors to launch denials and threats. This is proof of their lack of conscience and desperation to retain tax benefits and generous government handouts for their schools. Not all the bluster and bravado in the world, most notably their re-branding to the name of Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and claim to charitable works, can alter their sordid history.
Bachelard reveals the extent of the Brethren’s history of donations to the Liberal Party. Will the Prime Minister follow his predecessors in counting the Exclusive Brethren among his friends and take their tainted money, or will he take the moral high ground and distance his party from any association with this extremist Christian sect? The federal election is in crucial countdown mode. The message to Malcolm Turnbull is clear. He needs look no further than the 2007 election when the sitting prime minister lost his seat of Bennelong, in no small part due to the reaction of voters over revelations of the Liberal Party’s secret dealings with the Exclusive Brethren.
Joy Nason, Neutral Bay, NSW
The underhanded nature of political funding
Politicians clearly have no shame. The fact that the Liberals accepted “secret co-ordinated donations” from the Exclusive Brethren highlights the underhanded nature of political parties, especially when it comes to funding their operations. There appears to be a lack of moral standards, both on the part of donors and recipients. This story should have been emblazoning on page one. The $26.6million in government funding for the Brethren’s private schools is the icing on the cake. This is reprehensible in light of the parlous state that our government schools are in. Anyone who thinks this is acceptable needs to have their moral compass mended because theirs is broken. I am sure that the Labor Party has its cosy arrangements with various organisations, too.
David Legat, South Morang
Union funding wrong. Brethren funding OK.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemns the Labor Party for receiving money from trade unions yet defends funding to his own party from the secretive Exclusive Brethren. Also, Mafia figures donated tens of thousands of dollars to the discredited NSW Liberal Party fundraising vehicle, the Millennium Forum, as part of an ultimately successful campaign to allow a known criminal to stay in Australia (The Age, 29/6/15). Rather hypocritical, don’t you think?
John Cain, McCrae
Our two-tiered system
I retired 10years ago after a long career teaching in government secondary schools. Schools were better resourced under Labor governments (state and federal) than when the Coalition held the reins. The combination of the Kennett government and Howard government broke the state system’s back through the former’s assault on schools, and the latter’s less direct, but just as impactful, unequal funding of elite private institutions.
The last school I taught at touted for international students, and the main motivation was money. Little preparation was made for their educational needs. I felt angry and ashamed. Now, in order to gather more funds, teachers in government schools are being “rented out” to private schools (The Age, 17/6). I am despondent that education in this country has perhaps become the most divisive, two-tiered system in the Western world. Until we have one public education system, fully resourced and invested in by all Australians, we can not mature as a nation.
Meg Stuart, Forest Hill
Educating our youth
Maybe Victoria’s crime statistics (The Age, 17/6) would not be so bad if the young people concerned were in a school or TAFE institute, being educated with a view to getting a worthwhile job, or in an apprenticeship. Labor has pledged to establish 10 new “tech schools” (The Age, 27/4). It should open more. Also, the old technical schools should never have been shut down.
This is an issue in the public interest. I believe it is critical as it reveals a real sickness in perpetrators and the destruction or deaths of young lives who are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves.
I feel respect for the policemen and I wonder how they feel when they investigate pedophile cases and then think of their own children. What if your child was put in harms way? How do we create a society where these abuse issues disappear.
There are pedophile rings that want to legalise child abuse as they think it is normal and together they celebrate it as they enjoy it. The children don’t. They get together in rings and networks, they have symbols, insignias, statues, venues where go. They speak of man love and the issue of setting the scene for the acceptance of same sex abuse (as distinct from homosexual love of consenting adults) as a means of saying it is normal to have sex with children or minors. Thus, some may manipulate the issue (blurring it) to use it to groom the public into acceptance and exploiting children’s confusion and desire to please or obey adults as they are too afraid or unsure what is okay or not. They are extremely vulnerable. The consequences of this abuse are horrendous, the children may disassociate as they are so traumatised forgetting the abuse as the abuser would want or they may have flash backs.
This is a complex psychological mental health issue that is most definitely in the public interest. It is happening at the highest levels and that should be deeply concerning as they hold power over our society and they can protect abusers who are friends or there maybe blackmail occurring to ensure a politicians is a puppet of someone else. Such is the insidious nature of abuse and bullying.
In the immediate short term a key question for parents is do you really want children on the internet unsupervised, despite filters?
What would love choose?
This is a video which provides insights into the police handling of pedophilia, child grooming, rings, networks online. What of those off line?