Spy base and Kindergarten: Are they above the law?

UPDATE DEC 18: The bailiff served all documents on the Tunks this morning at their home address, says Mr Munn.

UPDATE DEC 12: A spokesperson for theĀ  Department of Defence said today it is aware that a Defence employee who is a member of the Australian Public Service is involved in a private defamation case. This issue does not involve the Department. This is a private matter between the Defence employee and the plaintiff.
The Department understands that an individual attempted to access the Pine Gap facility in order to serve documents on Mr Tunks but was refused entry to the site because it is a high security facility. Following this incident, the Department encouraged our employee to deal with this matter.

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

What do the US spy base Pine Gap and the Alice Springs Child Care Centre have in common? They are both shielding people from a legal process by denying access to serve Supreme Court documents on their employees.
So claims Alasdair Munn, the plaintiff in a NSW defamation action which has Russell Crowe, Peter Holmes a Court and the Rabbitohs on the periphery.
Mr Munn, a computer consultant, says he has been defamed in social media postings by an employee of the kindergarten in Bath Street, and her husband, a mid-ranking Australian Navy officer, who works at Pine Gap.
The local cops had a bit part in the drama, which has its origins in a dispute between opposing factions at a Sydney based NRL club, distantly involving Mr Munn: He says he told police he was having difficulties serving a statement of claim on the couple. The cops said they couldn’t help, but last Saturday dispatched two wallopers to the Sydney-bound plane on which Mr Munn was a passenger. He was then leaving the Alice after being blocked by the kindy and Pine Gap.
The doors of the Qantas jet had already been closed but the police demanded access to Mr Munn, to talk to him about allegations of trespass made by the kindy.
He had been there, politely asking to see the staff member on whom he wanted to serve the court papers, but was told she wasn’t there and he left again.
When Mr Munn told police officers the true situation on the tarmac of the Alice airport, and that others in their organisation knew all about it, they eventually apologised profusely and let him go.
The plane got away 15 minutes late, after Mr Munn had been embarrassed in front of a lot of passengers.
He says Pine Gap also denied access to a bailiff wanting to serve papers, of which the Alice Springs News Online has a copy. The head of security later called the bailiff in for questioning to determine how Mr Munn had been able to track their employee to the top secret base, claims Mr Munn.
Pine Gap, the police and the kindergarten have not responded to requests for comment.

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7 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Margaret Willis
    Posted September 5, 2016 at 8:38 am

    As a postscript to this action by Munn.
    The case was thrown out of court and costs in excess of $25,000 awarded to the Tunks.
    Alice Springs Police also sought to take action against Munn for stalking.

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  2. Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    When I worked on RAAF bases people who were to be served subpoena or summons were called to the front entry gate so that service could be effected without any security issues.
    That was a courtesy not afforded in the real world (kindergartens?) where people regularly avoid service of court instruments. Finding and serving avoiders is part of a bailiff’s job (and a police officers for criminal matters), as such those serving instruments need to develop the cunning and ingenuity to “find” the people at times and places where they can’t avoid service.

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  3. Kathy
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    @1 For the Supreme Court to allow a case to get to the point of serving a summons on someone, there has to be evidence. If police don’t get involved in civil matters why did they get Mr Munn off the plane? The ADF Facility and Kindy are the workplaces of the people accused of defamation, that’s how they’re involved.

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  4. Alasdair Munn
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    To K T Walker.

    There is a lot of merit in what you say. It is a civil matter. However, on arrival in Alice Springs my very first visit was to the police to inform them why I was in town and that I anticipate problems. The child care centre had previously defied a court subpoena to release the employee’s address and given jurisdictions, compliance is difficult. The employee was on the premise when I asked for her in the kindy’s reception area, in that respect they were no doubt being quite misleading, I observed her leaving a short time later as she sped off in a car. The police stopped me on two occasions asking what I was doing, despite my earlier visit to the station.
    I had apparently been reported as a stalker despite breaking no laws and going out of the way to keep the police informed. The kindy actively shielded the employee with no real reason to do so, Pine Gap have a different responsibility and I accept their explanation as being correct and reasonable. As a civil matter, it should be up to the courts to determine the merits of the claims made, but the actions described here are preventing that process from running its course with the accused steadfastly avoiding service.

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  5. K T Walker
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I am confused how a civil matter has any relevance to a defence or childcare facility how is that relevant to any claims made which have yet to be proven in court. Also is it right to be making statements like this publicly for something that is still to be ruled on and circumnavigate due process rather than trials through the media in regard to allegations claimed.
    Police do not get involved with civil matters and unsure of what was said to make him initiate a defamtion action but the article is just one side I think the police know what it is and to why they spoke with him at the airport. I reserve the right to make a judgement when all the facts are out as there has to be more to it and look forward to a full story and make it balanced.

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  6. Kathy
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    No one can hide forever. If a Supreme Court has documents shouldn’t the police be helping?

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  7. Alex Pico
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Sounds like those in authority don’t really care about Internet trolls unless you are a celebrity like Charlotte Dawson. If somebody does this over the net (a public carriage) they are breaking law. If the culprits can be identified, the cops should grab them, not drag a victim off a plane.

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