Heydon announces decision on future as commissioner

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Former High Court judge and trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon will not disqualify himself from the commission.

“In my opinion, the applications must be dismissed,” Heydon announced.

His reasons will be published shortly.

The announcement comes after Heydon postponed announcing his decision twice, originally planned for Tuesday August 25.

Two weeks ago, the Australian Council of Trade Unions applied for Heydon to disqualify himself from the head of the royal commission into trade unions, after he controversially withdrew from making the Garfield Barwick address when it was revealed to be a Liberal Party fundraiser.  Heydon maintained that he had overlooked the party connection to the event.
  • David on 14/09/2015 9:19:00 PM

    Good insight by Michael.

    All that Josephine and Joe public will see is some self-serving, bewigged cad and bounder gulping down his own bathwater whilst serving it up to the nuncle Labor hopefuls -who cant find real jobs proiducing things.

    Own goal by the "establishment"!

  • Julian on 14/09/2015 2:48:11 PM

    Thank you for your response. Michael, you wrote "this ruling rather than allaying their concerns 'proves' that the RC has been established come hell or high water to damage the Labor party".

    I am confused about which ruling you refer. DH ruled merely that he had a flexible mind.

    Any government has an obligation to listen and investigate allegations of racketeering. So government smells the smoke and sends the fire brigade trucks. Who owns or operates out of that building is their liability.
    Judge a man by the company he keeps.

    Both the Labor Party and Unions have a wonderful noble history of improving society. They are essential to balance the corporate greed of carpetbaggers and spivs. History shows that the separation of powers - religion from government, government from the judiciary, the King from Parliament - prevents enmeshment. Perhaps Labor and the Unions could do better business apart -as in the USA? At least, union staff would have one sole objective (to improve the conditions for their members) rather than seeing apparatchik selfishly using the union merely as a leg up into Parliament?

  • Michael on 12/09/2015 6:41:59 PM

    As several corespondents have said, legally DH is in the clear and so may carry on. However, by doing so he could be actually further damaging the credibility of the findings that the RC is attempting to document - corruption within the unions. The average 'person on the street' does not have legal training that writers here may so this ruling rather than allaying their concerns 'proves' that the RC has been established come hell or high water to damage the Labor party.
    If an anti-corruption enquiry was required and needed to appear non-partisan a better tool to use may have been a Federal ICAC - but with broader terms who knows what that may turn up?

  • Julian on 10/09/2015 2:25:49 PM

    I have spent many years organizing professionals to speak at events. The banner groups are often the same faces, just under a different guise. The study groups and societies compete amongst themselves to shanghai just anyone from the short supply of willing speakers. The term fund raiser implies "money in" whereas the ticket price to me indicates that they had surplus funds and they were having a grand bog in (money out) with a keynote speaker who was oblivious to any innocent maladministration or hatching plot to endanger him. If DH cannot actually hang anyone and his recommendations will be taken up by police or tax agents, what is the worry other than the man in the street may consider DH was happy to write the referral? Remember the man in the street still thinks Elvis lives, that beer cures a headache and that the Moon is made of cheese. His possible misconceptions should not stop a nation riding itself of racketeers. Surely Labor too would want to clean up its powerbase - they had plenty of time to do it privately and this is all that is left.

  • william on 10/09/2015 10:57:43 AM

    It never ceases to surprise me when reading reports on the tactics used to avoid dealing with issues. For example avoiding relevant issues, placing emphasis on other things irrelevant, camouflaging by use of mountains of superfluous words, railing that there is insufficient evidence, etc.

    It is a difficult read going through the excess irrelevant information in the report.

    What is hidden in plain sight in para 96 is the following statement of intent of the Liberal Party event :

    "(although we trust we show the Party in a favourable light!)"

    It is clear that the Commission is based on Liberal Party wants and wishes and would not be something that the ALP would bring to a Commission.

    A fair minded person would easily apprehend that the Commissioner was on the side of the Liberals and that he would direct the outcome more favourably towards a liberal party outcome.

    During the response the Commissioner admits that he should not be partaking in the speech during the course of the Commission. In fact, all correspondence, discussion and contact should have ceased with the events organisers. The Commissioner's ongoing correspondence with the Liberal Party event organisers is evidence that a fair minded observer would apprehend that there is bias.

    There are many processes in all kinds of law where isolation from parties is a requirement to ensure that fair process is not only done but apprehended to be done.

  • Julian on 9/09/2015 1:05:50 PM

    As a kid, I enjoyed my uncle sorting sheep. He would stand at the gate and swing it left or right as the sheep ran down the run. Is that not the role of the Commissioner? To sort the naughty ones by handballing the matter to other government investigators such as police and tax auditors? Even if he was biased, no hanging would automatically occur? I need a Bex and a irst class tax funded holiday business trip with my nanny and batman!

  • David Cleverley on 8/09/2015 11:16:41 PM

    He should have said that he had every right to continue, but then stood down.

    Whether he likes it or not, its tainted now and nobody of any weight will be able to take the rc seriously.

    Its a circus, results assured.

    Justice needs to be seen to be done.

  • Wil;liam on 8/09/2015 10:53:11 AM

    In the event that a commissioner had merely died they would have immediately substituted him without and fuss or ado.

    A loss of a Commissioner is no big deal because the Commission refers the matters on to police if necessary where the matter is once again investigated.

    So what's the big deal in sacking a Commissioner who has not complied with his or her obligations?

  • william on 4/09/2015 12:28:43 PM

    If Heydon was as busy as he indicates...why on earth is he taking time to prepare a speech ? He should be looking at his correspondence before attending that kind of function. He gets paid a fortune for his work as a Commissioner and here he is wasting his time on a speech and in dereliction of his duties.

    Heydon's excuse regarding the emails is simply not credible.

  • Julian on 4/09/2015 12:24:26 PM

    Sam, you are a wise calm man. Well said!

    And when he is finished maybe he can start a similar process from the other end of town. I doubt anyone would object to that equality but I am sure DH deserves a rest.

  • SAM on 4/09/2015 11:42:01 AM

    It is clear that the lawyers representing the unions and the media want to turn the Royal Commission into a political personality contest. Judge Heydon is a former High Court of seniority and experience and I am pleased that he was decided to take the approach not to disqualify himself. He is heading an enquiry into the conduct of unions and the evidence gathered will speak for itself. Let His Honour do his job and pay him the respect he deserves.

  • Julian on 3/09/2015 12:33:54 PM

    It was only a short yesteryear ago that emails were dubious legal evidence of receipt. Remember the old telex which at least gave an answerback acknowledgement of the recipient having received the transmission. Emails can be deleted because they contain an offensive word like "ball" or "breast" or can be mysteriously diverted to "junk folder". Additionally, the anti-virus ransomeware software people advise great caution against opening attachments. Many attachments can be a moving gif, address, squiggle or software logo or banner.
    A busy professional is a hampered person due to their mind being elsewhere and their body being tied to the bench, theatre table or the treatment room. You are a hard taskmaster. The poor man is tied to his chair hearing evidence. He is not there tapping away on his computer or smart phone, nor should he be. He depends upon his support staff who are often of either untested or of just average ability. Perhaps he should be in another room and do voice control like that computer "Hal" in the film 2001?

    The Electronic Frontier folk complained that DH should use a computer. Well, that activity is predicated upon a desire or ability to type which may not be a deficiency when surrounded by a team of clerical and research staff?

    The world's most arduous ( 43 books in 73 volumes) and at the time the highest paid prolific author rarely wrote or certainly did not type his books or dispatches because Winston chose to dictate his prose to a rostered team of typist, often from his bed or bath. The methodology does not condemn the man, surely? I envy Dyson Heydon's ability to presumably write out in long hand what eventually was condensed to 67 type written pages. Both men displayed a tenacity and capacity that a Nation cannot find easily, albeit you will certainly disagree. I applaud both men, neither of whom I could or would replace. Can I advance your good self as a contender?

  • william on 3/09/2015 9:39:31 AM

    This amounts to a matter of probity. In tender processes there is a responsibility in government procurement to ensure that during the tendering that association with potential tenderers is regulated to the extent that even engagement in lunches are prohibited.

    Ignorance of the law is never an excuse. Therefore recklessness during the Royal Commission is inexcusable.

    Ordinary people understand that they can get in trouble because they broke the law not irrespective of whether or not they knew that the law existed. They accept their responsibilities. A judge is much more accountable; he knew the law and chose to be reckless.

    On the basis of his breach, he is now expected to assess the culpability of others; will he now ignore emails during the Commission, will he be too busy to look at evidence and submissions, will he ignore the protocols...

    Clearly, the man should not be at the head of the investigation into others.

    Heydon's conduct is sufficient to have him reprimanded or struck off. He is fortunate that he has as a judge a process that limits him being struck off by a mere application to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner.

    It is my view that the properly informed ordinary person would want Heydon sacked from the Royal Commission.

  • Julian on 2/09/2015 5:08:53 PM

    Subway.. oops.. 7 Eleven = Talk .. oops...no talk.
    People in Glass Houses?

  • ANA on 2/09/2015 10:16:10 AM

    It is a regrettable state of affairs. Involvement with a political process (as this RC inevitably has become due to the combative political style of this parliament, and the PM) will inevitably lead to mud being thrown at the participant. Despite the work of the RC being absolutely necessary (see NZ for an example of a country unafraid of reform), there is a risk that Heydon's contribution to the RC, and to the legal profession, is now likely to be coloured by a perception in the minds of some, of partisanship.

    If Heydon's contribution dissuades other members of the profession from serving on a future RC, this will be a lasting shame.

  • Julian on 1/09/2015 4:39:31 PM

    Bad form not turning up for the decision chaps. He writes you 67 pages and the hot shot requesting lawyers don't even show up. Class, mate, true spunk!

  • william on 31/08/2015 7:39:23 PM

    "It is legal protocol that counsel in a matter always turns up to receive the judgment, it is common courtesy to the Court.'

    I am not at this stage in agreeance with Lynn McDermott that this is a judicial decision.

    It is clear that it is a personal decision but is it one that amounts to a judicial decision as he can not be a judge in his own cause..

    From my view, it is merely an opportunity to provide his own personal opinion on the matter and provide r easons why he is non=-compliant with the request. He had the opportunity to bow out gracefully if he was convinced that he had acted in bad faith.

    It remains to be seen of the ALP and parliament will agree with the judge. Afterall, it is parliament that can sack judges and commissioners.

    The practical reality is that it is a numbers game and should the ALP take the matter up in parliament will the result be produced as a political numbers game or will there be actual consideration of the bad faith.

    I draw to your attention that teh Premier recently resigned on the basis of a $3000 bottle wine where he forgot to to the right thing.

    When the Commissioner decided to attend the annual speech he apparently did not check his emails (thats a breach of professional standards; imagine doing that in your own practice and then causing the client detriment) to ensure that he was doing the right thing.

    Its clear that the policiticians wont be making the right decisions and therefore there is a case for the people to elect and sack judges.

  • Julian on 31/08/2015 4:31:03 PM

    So the purists are ranting that the RC supervisor should possess political chastity?

    Surely judges are the most experienced "Teflon force field" thinkers, otherwise we would not have any Judges left functioning as they would have had to recluse themselves due to belonging to seemingly horrid biased groups: Anglican, Catholic, Muslim, Freemason, Melbourne Cricket Club member, Docker supporter, Black, Green or Yellow, heterosexual or married.

    An acute intelligent mind can actually function at 2 levels: an initial knee jerk spontaneous response or, with training and experience, at a higher rational process of evaluation free of programming bias.

    Alas, there are actually very good gay or straight, left or right judges, some married whilst some are divorced. Those that cannot understand unbiased thinking are probably not used to such self-introspection, the conclusion often wonderfully being: "Oh, I have changed my mind".

    Now, thanks to Allah et al, Solomon's wisdom & destiny will happen for the Nation's benefit.

  • Odie on 31/08/2015 4:02:51 PM

    Or perhaps there's a little bit of bias going on with those commenters here who have jumped to the conclusion that this is the "right" or "proper" decision, when the reasons are yet to be disclosed.

    I suppose, in the words of some considered smarter than I am, we'll just have to reserve judgment.

    The fact that he's an ex High Court judge doesn't impress me all that much. He's human and therefore fallible like the rest of us.

    Those are some reasons I'll be reading with interest.

  • Phillip Hamilton on 31/08/2015 2:41:48 PM

    Certainly this was the only proper conclusion. And obviously the unions knew that it was only a try-on from the start. How the press and other self-promoters have made such a beat-up of it is shameful.

  • Greg on 31/08/2015 2:37:02 PM

    Dyson Heydon made the right decision. Now just let him get on with his job.

  • Julian on 31/08/2015 2:30:33 PM

    Time now for everyone

    to take a Bex and

    have a good lie down so

    the man can do his job.

  • Lynette McDermott on 31/08/2015 2:24:41 PM

    How interesting that not one of the barristers representing the Unions bothered to turn up for the handing down of the decision. It is legal protocol that counsel in a matter always turns up to receive the judgment, it is common courtesy to the Court. The non attendance speaks volumes about lack of respect !

  • Peter Courtis on 31/08/2015 2:23:24 PM

    There could not reasonably have been another conclusion.

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