Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Dingo Support Mail Mysteriously Disappears

What was afoot following the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain? Was someone trying to prevent Berenice’s campaign to prove the innocence of the Dingo?

This article is not intended to resurrect arguments about the disappearance of a baby girl at Ayers Rock (Uluru) in 1980 but it seems there was certainly an effort to quieten those supporting the Dingo.

On the 11 February 1981 Berenice posted a lengthy report questioning claims made about a Dingo being responsible for the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.

It was sent by Registered Mail from Picton Post Office to Mr Ashley Macknay, Crown Law Officer, at the court house, Alice Springs.

No receipt was received, and nor any mention of it, or any of the material it contained.

Berenice believed a great injustice had been done to the Dingo, and many claims against it, and accepted as evidence, were, at best, highly questionable.

She was horrified when the verdict was handed down.  Was it the end? She told a reporter this was only the beginning.

Many people were sickened at the lack of support for the Dingo.  It appeared only evidence supporting claims a Dingo was guilty were accepted as evidence. 

A copy of the submission was sent to Mr Paul Everingham, Chief Administrator of the Northern Territory, advising no acknowledgment or receipt of the report sent to the Coroner had been received. While Berenice did not think anything she said would change the course of justice, she believed the Dingo had been unnecessarily persecuted.

Mr Everingham acknowledged receipt of her letter and copy of the report but there was still no indication if her report had been considered. In a follow up letter to Mr Everingham she requested permission to release the contents of her report.

It was October when he advised her letter was “under detailed examination” and he would write to her as soon as possible.

It was a further two weeks when he advised there was NO RECORD of his office receiving the report forwarded in March and he had NO KNOWLEDGE of its contents whatever. He added, “the transcript of the Azaria Chamberlain Inquest held at Alice Springs does not contain or even mention the report.  I can only conclude the Coroner has not made official use of your paper.” He added he could not comment on her request to release the document and suggested she contact the Coroner to take the matter further.

The months of anguish Berenice had suffered preparing the document in defence of the Dingo, and all to no apparent avail, made her feel sick particularly when she thought of the garbage accepted as evidence against the Dingo.

To prove to herself the packet had been received by the court she completed a Statutory Declaration with Australia Post, stating it was sent by Registered Post but apparently not received.

On the 16th November 1981 she received advice from Picton Post office the package had arrived in Alice Springs on the 13th February 1981. It had been delivered on the 16th February 1981 and signed for by a member of the Law Court Staff authorised to collect mail.

This was not the only parcel with strange outcomes.  During this time, the society had car stickers printed with the words ACQUIT THE DINGO.

An order containing t-shirts, souvenirs and a quantity of the stickers was mailed to a Perth Pet Shop. It arrived at its destination minus the stickers.  Initially Berenice thought she omitted putting them in the parcel and included a supply with the following order.  Again, the parcel arrived, minus the stickers.  She later discovered both parcels had been opened in transit.

Through the Society’s Patron, Senator Tony Mulvihill, she notified then Minister for Telecommunications, Ian Sinclair, of the losses. Within four days all stickers were accounted for and sent on to the Pet Shop.

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