Law Council slams Commissioner attacks

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The Law Council Australia has come out in support of John Dyson Heydon AC QC, trade union royal commissioner, who has come under fire recently for alleged ties to the Liberal Party.

While the Labour Party has increase pressure on Heydon to stand aside as head of the royal commission amidst the controversy, he remains resistant. 
The Law Council has slammed the controversy around Heydon’s role in the commission, saying Commissioners should be treated with a higher level of respect.

“The public attacks on the Commissioner being played out through the media are unacceptable and damage the basis on which tribunals and Courts operate,” said Duncan McConnel, president of the Law Council of Australia.

“The proper way for dealing with any question of bias, including apprehended bias, is to make an application for the Commissioner to recuse himself, and for the Commissioner to consider and rule on the application.

The person who sits as a Royal Commissioner is entitled to the same respect, inside and outside of the Inquiry, as a Judge in a Court.”

Controversy arose after it was revealed that Heydon was to give an address at a Liberal Party fundraiser, the fact that the event was a fundraiser for the party he said was accidently overlooked.
  • william on 20/08/2015 11:34:46 AM

    Public outrage can cause independent and fair minded politicians to do the right thing. It can aslo cause the Governor to intervene.

    In the instance of bias, Judges can be dismissed by the parliament and also by the governor.

    The issue of actual or apprehended bias has clearly been investigated in the case of magistrate Pat O'Shane and the Judicial Commission ruled that she had a bias against police. She has not recused herself nor has parliament acted in dismissing her.

    Magistrate Pat O'Shane's case now amounts to a canon (measuring stick) by which parity can be argued.

    Clearly trusting decisions of this kind to Parliament, those who made the original political decision to nominate the judges, is one that has frustrated the system.

    The intervention of the Governor is the proper approach t ensure that ordinary folks get the justice and system that they deserve.

    An alternate system, if politicians continue their biased approach to these matters is to take the approach adopted by many USA states. Theses states allow the people to elect Judges and to determine which judges are to be retained.

  • Odie on 19/08/2015 12:03:40 PM

    Actually, the actions of an appointee to a politically motivated taxpayer funded public inquiry fall clearly within the domain of public interest.

    It is indeed right and acceptable in a democracy to question that person and his motives where his appointment by one political party gives him the authority to call into question the integrity of the opposing political party. It is also correct to query that appointee's personal judgment in circumstances where he has claimed that he was unaware that he was the headline act in a Liberal Party fundraising event while acting in his appointed role, but when subsequent emails are released into the public domain, significant doubt is then cast on his claim. Now, I might be wrong, but I remember from my younger uni days that this sort of thing is referred to as apprehended bias.

    In that context, to claim that a Royal Commissioner is entitled to the same respect as a Judge in a court is pure bollocks that entirely misses the point.

    Plus, the legal community has for far too long forgotten that the judiciary are public servants (no more, no less) and should be open to scrutiny. Nobody should be above scrutiny. That novel idea might make many of you chosen few squirm a tad, but a law degree combined with a career gifted to you by mummy and daddy's connections doesn't make you any more superior to the commonest labourer. Nor should it grant you any special privileges.

    What this issue really boils down to is that Heydon decided to lie down with dogs. We all know what you catch when you do that.

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