Sunday, June 10, 2012


Continuing Little Darwin’s series on unusual aspects of the Chamberlain witchhunt with further examination of ephemera in the file kept by Darwin agronomist , civil libertarian and activist, Robert Wesley-Smith .
The Azaria Chamberlain case was a highly contentious issue in the 1984 election for the Northern Territory seat in the House of Representatives which saw the ALP incumbent , John Reeves , now a judge of the Federal Court and the NT Supreme Court , ousted by the former Territory Chief Minister, Paul PorkyEveringham. Everingham’s win, with 28,747 votes ,represented a 3.3 swing against the ALP and was attributed to white voter anger at the Labor Government’s three –mine uranium policy and the decision to pass Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, into Aboriginal ownership.

However, a controversial independent candidate in that election stirred up much angst in the Territory. He was journalist ,publisher Phillip Ward , who wrote the sensational book AZARIA! WHAT THE JURY WERE NOT TOLD after going to Ayers Rock and investigating the case. The book made allegations about many aspects of the disappearance of baby Azaria .

The book’s promotion pamphlet declared: For the first time ever in print, discover how the Chamberlain case was “rigged”. Discover how evidence was falsified. Read of vital facts withheld from the jury. See how the judicial process itself was tampered with. And discover why Lindy Chamberlain didn’t stand a chance. One of Ward's election pamphlets offered 10,000 copies of his book , selling for $6.95 in newsagents , so that voters could decide if “Lindy Chamberlain is guilty or innocent ---if Paul Everingham should be voted in or out .”

Like the Chamberlains, Ward was a Seventh Day Adventist and published what was said to be the nation’s biggest business newsletter with a circulation of 23,000. He said he entered the political contest because of his fervent belief that the Chamberlains were innocent and that Everingham had what he termed “ an anti-Lindy line”. Furthermore, he stated in writing that the Everingham administration had perverted the course of justice . This was , he added, a grave charge indeed, "not made lightly."

Giving his address as 25 Progress Drive, Nightcliff, Ward launched a strong campaign which attracted a lot of attention and comment . This included a series of single column newspaper advertisements which made startling allegations not only in connection with the Chamberlain affair but other Territory matters.He alleged a $250,000 swindle involving Berrimah Jail , interstate police being involved in payback against Michael Chamberlain who had opposed marijuana .

If elected, he promised to negotiate a combined Federal-Territory amnesty for "Territory police who provide self incriminatory evidence on drug dealing ". This claim was made under the heading AZARIA LINKED TO DRUG DEALS . It was redhot material , which some say enhanced Everingham’s chances of being elected . Ward took issue with the NT News when it insisted on running his statements under an advertisement on the grounds that section 331 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act said newspaper proprietors must do so at the top of political ads. This had not applied, he claimed, to seven CLP ads .

As it turned out , Ward received 1906 votes , 2.1per cent of the vote . He continued to make allegations about the case and was inevitably involved in legal action. All subsequent elections seemed tame affairs after the allegations that flew around in 1984. NEXT :More twists and surprise turns.