Last week Qld premier Campbell Newman told the state’s legal fraternity to “come out of your ivory towers” and realise the only reason the government introduced a raft of tough new laws because the “system was failing”.
He said members of the legal industry who had publicly questioned the legislation and queried whether the government was blurring the lines between the judiciary and the executive were out of touch.
Last year 400 people committed offences while out on bail in Queensland, Mr Newman said, adding that Phillip Graeme Abell was out on bail when he killed Gold Coast policeman Damian Leeding.
“They [the legal fraternity] are living literally in an ivory tower,” Mr Newman said.
“They go home at night to their comfortable, well-appointed homes, they talk amongst themselves, they socialise together, they don’t understand what my team and I understand, and that is Queenslanders have had enough.”
On the separation of powers
Mr Newman said he believed it to be “more of an American thing, I should say”, but said he understood parliament to be “supreme” because it was “the manifestation of the will of the people”.
“It would be absolutely inappropriate for us to interfere in the workings of a specific court or case. That is where the separation of powers comes in. I don’t tell judges what to do, neither does the Attorney-General, nor do we now.
“What we are saying is, the community says enough is enough, they are not being protected, we are saying, here is a new set of laws to try and protect Queenslanders.
“If Queenslanders don’t like it, they’ll vote us out.”
Now Queensland Supreme Court judge Justice George Fryberg questioned whether he should hear a submission from the Director of Public Prosecutions asking the Supreme Court to review the decision to grant bail to 25-year-old alleged Bandidos member Jarrod Kevin Anthony Brown who police allege was one of the Bandidos involved in a public bikie brawl on the Gold Coast last month.
Justice Fryberg read Mr Newman’s comments aloud in court and asked Crown barrister Todd Fuller to clarify whether the comments had been withdrawn.
“I say that in great seriousness … because it’s essential in our system that justice be seen to be done,” Judge Fryberg said.
“If I were to have the matter dealt with with these remarks on the record and not withdrawn … it would be very difficult for members of the public to avoid a conclusion… that the court was bending to the will of the government.
“It’s significant because it’s not just me, it’s every judge in the court who could be in the same position.”
Judge Fryberg said he was troubled by the fact the application was effectively brought by a government whose “principle spokesman” had publicly told the court what the outcome should be.
Newman has stood his ground, telling parliament that he wasn’t commenting on specific cases, butonly spoke broadly on community expectations of the judiciary, reflecting what the people of Queensland are saying and thinking.
Today we should hear Justice Fryberg’s response.
Last week Robert Corr wrote an excellent piece in Overland:
John Birmingham was scathing on our attorney general:
I have arse pimples older than Jarrod Bleijie and I suspect the two weeks they sat festering on the hard wooden benches of UQ law school might make them better qualified to be the state’s senior law officer than our current Attorney-General.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said Mr Fitzgerald was entitled to his opinions, but said the government had a mandate to “rebalance the scales of justice”.
Under the new laws Bleijie has the power to keep sex offenders in prison indefinitely, irrespective of what the justice system might think. Dr Wendell Rosevear, who has treated sex offenders in Queenslanders prisons as well as the victims, thinks the laws are based on revenge and are unethical as well as counter-productive.
Actions like making bikie prison inmates to wear hot pink jumpsuits stem from similar motivation.
Tony Fitzgerald QC who presided over Queensland’s historic corruption inquiry also launched a scathing attack on the Newman government’s bikie and sex offender laws. I don’t have a link to his article.
Fitzgerald says parliament could choose to enact any law.
But parliamentarians “don’t have a ‘mandate’ to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary”
Radio National has more especially from
Gary Crooke, who was Counsel-Assisting in the Fitzgerald Inquiry.
Meanwhile coppers have been told to enact anti-bikie legislation with enthusiasm or be sacked. Mark saw three coppers hassling three citizens with tatts the other day, so they are on the job.