>> Ogawa’s case is a blot on higher-degree supervision, the justice ‘‘system’’ and that collection of bureaucratic drones, the Department of Immigration.
Ogawa already had a law degree from Wasedu University in Tokyo and a masters in law from Yokohama National University. At the end of 1999, she came to Australia on a Rotary international scholarship to study for a PhD.
She did two years at the University of Queensland and then transferred to the University of Melbourne where she had been offered two scholarships to complete her doctorate in broadcasting and copyright law.
At Melbourne, her first supervisor left after a few months. There was a hiatus during which she had no supervisor, until she complained. Ultimately someone with expertise in military law was appointed.
The result of this stand-off was that in 2002 her enrolment was cancelled. She took proceedings against the university in 2003, which was followed by a two-year jurisdictional wrangle, claiming the university had made several misleading statements in its handbook about ‘‘infrastructure support’’ and the experience of the supervisor to be assigned to PhD students.
In 2006 Justice Ray Finkelstein said the case should be heard by the Federal Court. Six months later the dispute was settled and she was able to re-enrol at the University of Queensland to complete her doctorate, which she did.
In 2006 her thesis was published as a book, Protection of Broadcasters’ Rights. It carries a foreword by the former chief justice, Anthony Mason, saying: ‘‘This book is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the issues relating to the protection of broadcasters’ rights.’’
On May 19, 2006, Ogawa was arrested in Queensland on the ground that she no longer held a valid student’s visa. She was sent to Villawood detention centre, where for 10 weeks she was on ‘‘suicide watch’’.
She applied for a protection visa and was released, only to be arrested again and imprisoned on charges of making threats in phone calls three months earlier to kill two Federal Court officers.
Ogawa was extradited from Sydney to Brisbane. Justice Dennis Cowdroy dismissed her appeals on the immigration issues in December 2006. He said she had become an ‘‘unfortunate victim’’ of circumstances.
The criminal case over the threats came before Judge Stuart Durward from Townsville. By this stage, Ogawa was working at Southern Cross University, Lismore, but her mental state was fragile, to put it mildly. The court ordered her arrested for breach of a psychiatric treatment bail condition.
She was dragged into the Brisbane District Court, handcuffed and propped up in the dock by sheriff officers. After repeated interruptions, her trial proceeded in her absence, with no representation or defence.
She was convicted on all charges and sentenced to a minimum of four months for each to be served concurrently, plus two months minimum for contempt (screaming and bottom flashing).
Counsel came to her rescue, an appeal was lodged and she is now out on bail.
In granting bail the Queensland Court of Appeal made some remarks about the trial judge’s failure to properly direct the jury as to whether a ‘‘panic attack’’ was relevant to her intention at the time of the alleged threats.
Ogawa came to Australia nine years ago. She has spent 6½ years in various courts. She fears that if she is deported she will not be able to get an academic job in Japan or travel to conferences.
As she put it: ‘‘This is a strong message to international students, how dangerous it is to study in Australia.’’<< end of excerpt