Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature




What does it take, when will sanity, let alone justice, prevail. " Provocation " reduces it to man - well woman-slaughter, then a minimum of eight, not the possible twenty. Slaughter is still slaughter. He was fortified, being stronger physically, but not justified. She was defenceless, helpless, innocent, and the law which we trust to avenge us, failed her, just as he did. The law is just another enemy of the victim, defender of the offender. She did not provoke him. Was anyone there to hear her provoke him. The legal system will not allow ' heresay ' relative to a history of domestic violence, and yet allows this heresay

....... provocation as attested by the perpetrator. I have lived 25 years of domestic violence, been " protected" by an intervention order, and would never be so reckless to my own safety, knowing my ex-husband as I do, to say anything that would anger him, regardless of what I thought. Even Julie Ramage's daughter knew her mother feared him. The so-called " provocation " is an unproveable, yet successful - escape from murder. The Eternal Judge will not be so easily persuaded. He will, however, have a huge case list, hence the need for eternity!

Keep up the good work Phil, we must never end this pursuit to speak for those who no longer can.

name witheld

Julie Ramage, nee Garrett, was loved by her friends and family. All the stories suggest she was a warm and generous person - like her twin sister Jane - who had so much to live for.

Below is what real people believe about the violence and the law:

Dear Phil,

I was glad to read your voice of reason in the Herald Sun today as yet another violent man got away with murder quite literally. I also read your book, “Another Little Murder” and find it astonishing that the defence of provocation still exists in the 21st century. As a logical proposition the defence of provocation doesn’t make much sense.

Firstly, would a reasonable man find the deceased actions or comments so provocative as to lose his self control and kill. Husbands and wives leave each other all the time with many a bitter word spoken without lethal consequences. That alone should tell us that the “reasonable” person would not find the revelation of an extra marital affair an incitement to kill.

Secondly, women rarely avail themselves of this defence suggesting that half the populous would not respond in this fashion. Surely, this tells us that it is a defence to accommodate and excuse male violence. If the reports of the Herald Sun are true what is extraordinary is that Julie Ramage remained in this controlling marriage for so long. Men who kill their wives in this fashion have a history of abusive and violent behaviour which doesn’t seem to come to light in court. And what is distressing is the regular monotony with which we read of yet another woman killed by a violent partner.

So what can we do about it? I’m a qualified solicitor and have done a stint as a criminal defence lawyer. Can I be of any assistance to convince the parliament to step in and legislate away this anachronism? Any suggestions would be appreciated.




Dear Phil

I am a friend of Julie Ramage. I used to ride with Julie at my property which is the on the road where her husband dumped her.

I am outraged - I know so many things that could have helped that arsehole go down, but none of it would have been allowed. I know she was so scared of him that there is NO WAY that she would have said what she has been accused of. She would have been absolutely terrified. I have read the papers for the last few weeks and had to read all this crap, and what a lost soul this man is presented as. The lies and portrayal of Julie have been nothing short of amazing.

Nothing will bring Julie or your sister back, but I will personally be maintaining my rage till the day I die.

Thank you for your article - it has been uplifting. Thank you for confronting the QC - it helps to keep perspective that ******just don't kill people; they practice law as well.



Dear Phil,

Firstly, I wanted to say that I am sorry to hear about your sister's murder and the subsequent injustice committed against her, yourself and your family.

Secondly, I would like to thank you for your article Julie's Judicial betrayal. As a female law student I am outraged at the decision by the courts to uphold the defence of provocation that Dunn QC used in the Ramage murder trial.

You correctly stated that this law is barbaric, and like you I believe it should be changed.

There are many flaws in the defence of provocation, the major one being that the murderer can testify in court, while the victim obviously can't. Another is that there is a subjective element to the defence which allows the court to look at personal attributes of the defendant. Finally, such a law is gender biased.

This law needs to be changed immediately, and hopefully I can somehow play a part in making sure men are unable to use this defence in the future.



Dear Mr Cleary.

Jane Garrett Ashton, the sister of the late Julie Ramage whose husband in the next few hours may well get a verdict of Manslaughter, rather than Murder, kindly directed me to you.

I've been to your principal website, and have a had a preview of your book about your sister's case, and, perhaps, more importantly, her life and the family that deserves something better from the law.

I am very interested, as a former Melbourne resident (and a current resident of the UK (but still a USA citizen), in helping to address the gross disparity in human rights that Provocation as a Defense at trial allows. Changing the law that makes dead victims answerable to their generally savage deaths is absolutely imperative.

Jane suggests that law-change in the UK would be of signal use. I have done no research on the subject here. Perhaps you could advise?

Yours sincerely,

eileen schlee


A quick note of support to thank you for your words in today's Herald Sun.

The concern, disbelief and anger I felt after reading the front pages of this morning's newspapers were somewhat alleviated after reading your column, and realising that there is a 'public' voice of support trying to make a difference.



Read your article in Today's Herald-Sun. Very sorry to hear your story - and a disgrace that this goes on.

I assume there must be some Government minister to write to about the ridiculously lenient sentences in such cases. Who do you recommend I contact to voice a concern on this issue ?



can't believe that prick got off on manslaughter. once again the message is sent that it is okay for men to kill women because they are partially responsible if they say what they think. who witnessed the "provocative words" anyway? he had a history of violence, doesn't that mean anything. i am furious


I am a 24 year old from Black Rock and last year l commenced a criminology degree through Open Learning Australia. Always the optimist regarding everything in life, l have never been so discouraged until l commenced delving into the workings of our criminal justice system.

My last exam through Griffiths University in QLD was on the defense of provocation. Some of the cases we studied made me nearly physically sick to read of a girl “provoking” her ex boyfriend to stab her new boyfriend to death by the mere act of being with him.

I thought provocation was more to protect victims such as battered women and victims of long term abuse who cannot use the claim of self defense due to the fact they often kill their abusers whilst they are sleeping or in other such non confrontational situations because they see every situation as threatening.

This is when provocation can be used – when years of abuse - physical, emotional or sexual - causes a person to lash out

Provocation should not be a scapegoat for men who cannot control their women or their tempers.

Every time l take up a new unit in Criminology l become just a bit more disenchanted with Australia and its sickening adversarial system.

Crime in Australia does pay, and although Christine Nixon is doing a fantastic job to get criminals behind bars – our judges and juries are churning them back onto the streets.

How do we get more involved to change this – how does a 24 year old make some kind of difference to a country that is now telling its rapists “best of luck in life – you are free to go”??


Hi Phil
Like you, I am disgusted that Julie's murderer is not committed of the crime he did commit. I read in the Herald Sun today that evidence was put to the jury that Julie was premenstrual and that she carried feminine hygiene products in her handbag.

Gee, I'd really like to see one woman that doesn't! That is, if they are not taking prescriptive drugs to stop their 'normal' menstrual cycle. This outcome for this trial is not logical and just confirms how influenced we are, still by the old fashioned male comment, that 'she's off her tree 'cos its the wrong time of the month'. So what if she did call him names - if it is true- what is wrong with people - have we all gone soft - cop it on the chin, or better still, just walk away. If someone calls me some expletive or calls me a name it does not drive me to reach into the kitchen drawer and grab the sharpest knife - pre menstrual, menopausal or not!

I met Julie a couple of times through the equestrian world. She struck me as being a quiet person with a love for her horses and from those equestrian friends of mine who mixed with her on a daily basis, would not 'hurt a fly' and that she was petrified by her mentally and physically abusive husband. Too scared to leave, I believe the comment I heard was. She had been 'trying' to leave him for years.

I can't comprehend how anyone can 'get away with murder' when Ramage openly admitted to murdering his wife. It was premeditated, he had it all 'planned' - he had no intention of letting her live and he wasn't thinking of walking away. I am so angry, what on earth is society coming to - have they all gone mad!
I hope the family appeals. Sorry, I just had to say my bit. I am going to purchase your book.

Kind Regards

I have just read and agreed with your article in the Sun regarding the murder of Julie Ramage.

It is unbelievable that 'provocation' can be used as an argument for reducing a murder charge to manslaughter in this day and age.
I don't know what I am angry at most, the fact that this awful 'get out' still exists and he would have known this when he spent the hours with his lawyer arranging to turn himself in and his defence. What does this say about our community?

Or ; that only a fly on the wall can have known what went on at the time and yet the jury chose to believe what of course he would say,

But, I think its the fact that 'provocation' still exists and that a woman can be blamed for contributing to her own murder.

Are there any legal steps that if successful could overturn this decision? Otherwise I guess an angry community should make its voice heard to the Government? I will ring around and see what is being done.


Dear Phil,

Just a short note to support entirely your excellent comment( Herald
Sun,29/10/04) on the Ramage case.
Fortunately I have not had to endure the loss of a loved one under such circumstances, but I fail to see how the victim in these cases can be maligned under the Law when obviously there can be no right of reply.

Best regards


Dear Mr. Cleary,

May I first share condolences for the loss of your sister to a man who believed that it was his right to punish her for presuming the right to choices about her life. I heartily applaud and stand with you in your denouncement of easy sympathy given to the perpetrators of these murders. I am disgusted and enraged by the Julie Ramage case, and I want to thank you for speaking out against the injustice - and for having the courage to do what you've done with your personal grief.

I am a survivor of domestic violence who fled in fear of my life - but I did survive, and I consider myself fortunate. I have been an advocate for some fifteen years now.

I write to you with two requests: I wonder if you could tell me who I can write to to protest the Ramage case, and to ask for an end to conditions under which women are blamed for their own murders. I am just so angry and I have had enough of it.

Second, I maintain a website for survivors of domestic violence and rape. I want to make a new page and dedicate it to women slain by partners, and I am seeking permission to use your article, "Julie's Judicial Betrayal", because it so wonderfully articulates the problems, the changes that must happen and why they must happen. I am also going to put a link to your book on my site.

I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience,

Louise McOrmond-Plummer

PS My webiste addy, just FYI is: The page I'm building re domestic murders is here (with select qwuotes form you; now I can link to the entire article!):


Dear Phil, I read your heartfelt article in today's "Herald Sun"and clenched my fists in impotent rage.

I was doing this 25 years ago as a young constable in the Victoria Police, when I saw rank injustices of every description happen in our courts. I have seen enough of homicide to know the shattering effects it has on a family, and worse, how the law kicks those families in the teeth with laughable prison sentences imposed on creatures who really should be locked up for life. Like Julian Knight - who copped a pathetic 4 years for every person he murdered in Hoddle Street. May the sentencing judge be haunted by those poor ghosts!

Interestingly, 2 murderers whom I knew back in my policing days are still behind bars - they are women, and their victims were men. I don't think that their crimes were particularly worse than those committed on your sister or Mrs Ramage. Murder is murder is murder.

Former prisoners have told me that the length of the sentence imposed is really irrelevant, seeing that "every year in there feels like ten..." which, I am sure, is of inestimable comfort to the dead and to those who mourn their passing!

Keep up the good work, mate. Maybe, just maybe, we will one day have a legal system which truly cares about protecting law-abiding citizens from those who seek to destroy life, love and hope with their murderous inclinations. Maybe one day a life sentence will mean precisely that - that the murderer dies behind bars with no hope of ever being released on any grounds whatsoever.

"Provocation" be damned!

Yours truly -Barbara


Dear Phil,

I don't read the above newspaper very often. Most of the time, I find it a quite dreadful right-wing, ultra conservative rag, with the exception of Jill Singer and a couple of others.

I read about your sister years ago. Whilst I am generally in favour of reasonable civil liberties, I couldn't agree with you more. It disgusts me that whilst we don't hesitate to criticize certain countries where we believe women are treated inhumanely (and certainly there are plenty of those), we fail to recognize what is happening in our own backyard.

A few months ago, when the focus was on football/soccer clubs and the treatment of women, I was surprised to read letters in the newspaper in which women were blamed for their 'style of dress, attitude and loose morals.' Sadly, both men and women wrote this type of letter to which I sent a scathing response.

A woman has the right to wear what she wants, to go out alone or in a group, to invite someone home for coffee and just coffee, to have a relationship, whether sexual or otherwise with whoever she chooses. Men have been doing this for at least two millenia.

Men who hit, assault and kill women never do it out of love or even passion. They do out it because they cannot stand losing power or control, because they cannot deal with rejection and because, sadly enough, they can. Such men deserve no sympathy or understanding nor leniency. They are brutes not 'real' men and deserve to be incarcerated where, perhaps over time, one can hope that they will learn the error of their ways - sometimes doubtful but still hopeful.

Men and women have to speak out and speak up about violence against women. A man who violates a woman is not 'behaving badly.' He is breaking a law, being immoral and inhumane. To say that men cannot control themselves is a sad indictment of all men and I know many men who do not fit this description.

The Federal Government spent 7 years and $2 million dollars of taxpayer funds to make advertisements aimed at trying to change abusive attitudes towards women. These ads were aired for a week or two and then just as suddenly disappeared. Violence against women (and children) is endemic and well-hidden. It takes place at all levels of society and in places which would surprise many people. It's a problem that has solutions, but far more time, energy, and financial resources need to be allocated and this should be done sooner rather than later.

Yours sincerely,


Dear Phil I'm writing to you because you seem to be the
spokesperson against the archaic defence of provocation. I'm furious
about the slap on the knuckles that Ramage is getting for murdering
Julie Ramage - and so is everyone else who I have spoken to about this
outrageous situation. I hope that there is some action group which is
harnessing this anger to make a strong public protest against the
defence of provocation and the men (murderers, lawyers, judges and
journalists included) who have relished this law. Please let me know
what this action group is called and how they can be contacted. If
there is no such action group, please let me know what I can do to help
arrange a protest. I strongly feel that now is the time to rally
together like minded people and force the pollies to take notice and
legislate. [...]


Dear Mr Cleary.

Having read your article in the Herald Sun you now have made me aware of this issue, It is almost like saying that a paedophile could use the existence of a child as a defence against his actions. There is no amount of provocation that can justify the taking of another human life. It is a form of defence that must be abolished to protect either male or female victims. It seems such a smug rationale for an horrendous act of aggression. You have my total support in wanting this changed.


Dear Phil,

I find it strange that after all my years of reading newspapers and having emotions stirred at times, that your article titled above, is the first one I have been moved enough to respond to. I recall my disgust when I heard on the radio that James Ramage was to be sentenced on a manslaughter charge for causing the death of Julie Ramage, how can it be just and fair that a man can punch and strangle, and receive a manslaughter charge.

I do understand the laws that talk of premeditation etc. with regard to murder, however it seems that we as a society are clearly saying that it is accepted if anyone uses words in a conversation, that may be hurtful, then it's alright to take their life, because it can be argued that it's provocation, what a joke. What a farce for all women, that words said in any manner, can determine a
death sentence for them, isn't enough that we live in constant fear from ex-loved ones, that any words can be said to women & their families about threats to kill them, but that is acceptable, because it's said in anger and the only thing that women can do as a defence is to take out a restraining order which even the legal system says is not worth the paper it's written on as it has to be breached to be effective and a breach could mean being killed.

That Phil is how I now live my life, to all appearances it looks normal I go to work (looking over my shoulder, changing the way I go continually), I visit friends, family, and get on with the art of living and it has now become just that, an art to survive because I no longer know if my ex-partner has got on with his life or is he watching and waiting to make good his threats.

I feel empathy for both yours and Julie Ramage's families for you are all left to carry the legacy of the selfish actions of others and I can only imagine that the pain never goes away, at best it can only dim!


Hi Phil,

I have read some of your comments and those of people who have written you letters, and I admit I am still seething over this defence of provocation.

Has anything been organised ie a protest, petition or something similar that I could be a part of? Maybe there is some group that you know of who are fighting against this unjust law. I may be interested in joining them.



Hello Phil,

I enjoyed what you had to say when you recently spoke in Shepparton during the "Week without Violence".
You may, or may not, remember that I spoke with you when you had finished speaking to the group and I mentioned that each week I write a column for the Shepparton News and it is my intention to write a piece about the issue you discussed on Thursday night.

Once I have assembled something I will send it to you for comment, if that is okay. I was fascinated by your passion and I was really taken with your view that men need to intervene if and when they know, or even suspect, that another man is using violence, of whatever sort, to intimidate women.Again, it was great to hear you speak and and thank-you for visiting Shepparton and bringing your message.

Take care,


Hello Phil Cleary,

re your article in the Herald Sun "Julie's Judicial Betrayal", I have to ask, like so many others, just where is the justice?
Some justice for some, and other justice for others! These judges have a lot to answer for - when will they dispense true justice for all?

What about the wives who have killed their husbands [after years of horrendous domestic violence, physical beatings and emotional and psychological violence] who have been sent to gaol for years?
They weren't allowed the luxury of such an excuse!

I seem to remember not long ago, and wish I'd kept details, of support for a woman who did just that - but I can't remember if she was paroled or released or not. I know that hearing her story brought back all the horror of my marriage, and the times I wondered if I'd live to see my children grow up, but luckily I escaped. I hope that he, the murderer, will get his in the end, and that other women don't suffer the same fate. This is rather pointless, but I had to have my say.




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