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PREJUDICE: Chris Merrit |
November 07, 2008
Article from: The Australian

NOW that Marcus Einfeld is at rock bottom, it is easy to forget the positive role this man once played in society.

For years he was extremely active in helping to spread the rule of law to some of the most miserable parts of the planet.

Some idea of his previous stature can be gauged by the fact that Einfeld — a prominent member of Sydney’s Jewish community — worked to spread a form of legal system to the Palestinian territories.

It would have been understandable if he had chosen to focus his efforts elsewhere. But he didn’t.

Within the Jewish community, Einfeld was patron of Jewish Care, an organisation that provides a variety of welfare programs.

Yet his public standing has been destroyed by his own arrogant actions over a ridiculous speeding ticket. He has pleaded guilty to two charges. But media scrutiny triggered by the affair has shown that Einfeld was a flawed man long before Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph revealed that he had misled a court over who was driving his car. There was a pattern of behaviour — and it wasn’t pretty.

Einfeld remained silent as the media stripped away the lies and revealed some of the truth. He padded his CV. He bought a doctorate. His presidency of the nation’s human rights watchdog came to an end soon after he was challenged for allegedly twice claiming compensation for the same property — an overcoat — lost on an overseas trip.

Even his good works abroad must now be seen in a different light. The federal government agency AusAID gave Einfeld’s non-profit company, Australian Legal Resources International, $730,172 in grants in 2003 which helped it to meet a funding shortfall of $913,265.

After Einfeld’s admissions in court, it might be tempting to see him as all bad. That, however, would be just as inaccurate as his previous incarnation as a national living treasure.

The reality is more complicated. There is something clearly awry and it has been awry for a long time. If Einfeld knows what’s good for him, he should recognise that now is the time to shed some light on what has really been going on in his perplexing life.

A truly persuasive sentencing submission would address the question of what it was that drove him to the acts of pettiness that are now his hallmark.

It might not be enough to keep him out of prison. And it will do nothing to prevent him from being stripped of the honours that had been heaped upon him for his good works.

But if it helps to explain why he misled a court and perverted the course of justice, it can only be of benefit.

Einfeld would also be doing himself a favour if he saved everybody some time, money and embarrassment by returning his Order of Australia and co-operating with the inevitable move to have his name struck from the roll of legal practitioners.

If he fails to do the right thing, he will be ensuring that Governor-General Quentin Bryce will be roped into this awful business.

One second after a conviction is recorded against Einfeld’s name, Bryce will be entitled to revoke his Order of Australia. Unless Einfeld acts now he will be condemning Bryce to endless — and justified — newspaper inquiries about how she plans to exercise her discretion.

Bryce, unfortunately, could be the next target in the Einfeld affair. The rules governing the Order of Australia vest an inordinate amount of discretion in the Governor-General. If she wanted to, she could ignore those who are charged with advising her about whether honours should be withdrawn. Regulations put in place last year make it clear that the GG can do what she wants.

The only way of avoiding a fresh debate on this front is if Einfeld does the right thing and sends back his gong.

The same goes for the bar. It would save everyone a great deal of trouble if he accepted the inevitable and co-operated with moves to have his name removed from the roll.

The door is closing on Einfeld’s legal career. His only choice is the manner of his departure. His best course now is to do what he should have done as soon as his lies over the speeding ticket were exposed: he should take responsibility for what he has done, apologise and take his medicine. That course of action won’t save him. But it might remind a few people of the Jewish lawyer who tried to take the rule of law to the Palestinians.,25197,24613365-30541,00.html


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