Larceny, fridges and mango madness

Something about Darwin and its steamy tropical environment appears to generate strange and desperate behaviour surrounding refrigerators.

I was reminded of this only a few minutes ago when my increasingly desultory exam marking endeavours were interrupted by an almighty thump outside in the corridor.  It turned out that my colleague Shaune Williams was in the process of liberating a bar fridge from the office of another colleague unwise enough to depart for six months in Germany undertaking PhD research.  Shaune claims unconvincingly that our absent colleague consented, at least impliedly, to the post-departure removal.

However fridge antics have a much longer history than this.  My former Labor parliamentary colleague and Aussie Rules legend the late Maurice Rioli was a pioneer, as ABC politics guru Antony Green recounts:

He was succeeded by Maurice Rioli, a local legend after playing 118 games for VFL club Richmond, winning the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground in the 1982 Grand Final. Rioli was also the Brownlow Medal runner-up in 1983. However, Rioli’s nine years in politics from 1982 until 2001 were less impressive. Early on it was revealed he had pawned the parliament supplied fridge, television and microwave from his office. After initially claiming this was to fund a trip to the AFL grand final to present the Norm Smith Medal, he later admitted it was done to fund a gambling habit. The CLP never missed an opportunity to remind Darwin voters of the incident and Riloi retired at the 2001 election.

Rioli never faced charges. I can only assume that either his gambling addiction or sporting hero prowess were regarded as sufficient mitigating circumstances. More recently a Darwin Lord Mayor and former CLP politician in Peter Adamson wasn’t quite so fortunate.  He did a stretch in Berrimah Prison after liberating and pawning a fridge and a number of other items including a Darth Vader mask from Darwin City Council.  Apparently the case raised a number of fascinating criminal law issues.  It certainly generated a scholarly journal  article by then colleague Andrew Hemming (before he decamped to USQ).

The humble fridge has now achieved such legendary status in Darwin that an entire arts festival is devoted to celebrating its manifold virtues.  Personally I can’t get excited about fridges.  Their contents, however, are another matter entirely.  I must sign off now and go and liberate a glass of shiraz from the Head of School’s fridge. Cheers!

PS I should note that Antony Green’s article contains an uncharacteristic error. Maurice Rioli’s parliamentary career commenced in 1992 not 1982.


One thought on “Larceny, fridges and mango madness”

  1. If said colleague’s consent is found to be in some way vitiated, then I intend to raise as a defence, a mistake of fact – at least until the NT Criminal Code is amended to provide that the defence only applies in relation to offences listed in Schedule 300,000 of the Code which somebody may or may not be able to get a copy of, and which may or may not include misappropriation of bar fridges of specified capacities and manufactured by specified companies in which specified Darwin businessmen hold substantial shares, and which, in any event, is wholly inconsistent with the law in every other Australian jurisdiction…

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