Friday, June 20, 2014

This is why the Queensland legal profession hate their new Chief Justice

Whatever Mr Carmody is accused of during his tenure, it won’t be elitism or failing to grasp the reality of working class life.  He originated light years away from the privileged background of many senior jurists. Born in 1956 in Millmerran, he was still a boy when the family moved to Inala in 1963, taking up residence in a Housing Commission home.

His father was a publican, bookmaker and sometimes boarding house contractor at the Katherine Meatworks.  “He was a wonderful bloke but when you are a publican … and a bookie … there are going to be problems.’’

Carmody attended several schools including Nudgee College, where he interrupted his education after Year 9 to work at the Katherine Meatworks, mostly sweeping up the remains of dead livestock.

That experience put him on the road to an extraordinarily successful legal career which has included adjunct professor of law at QUT, Counsel Assisting at the Fitzgerald inquiry, Junior Counsel in the Connolly-Ryan inquiry, Queensland Crime Commissioner and Family Court judge in between.

Mr Carmody said he was working with his father in Katherine when they both, simultaneously, found themselves looking at a man who was clearly down on his luck.

“He was brown as a berry, wrinkled and dirty and dad looked at me and said: ‘Don’t end up like that’.’’

Mr Carmody joined the police force. He was stationed at West End, put on the beat in the city and even served as head of security at Government House before working as a Public Defenders Office clerk until 1982.

In his new role he is steeling himself for criticism.  He says he welcomed the advice of his old boss Tony Fitzgerald, who warned him not to allow ambition to compromise his ideals.  “I completely accept what I took to be Tony’s caution – it is very good advice.’’


More on the controversy

Premier Newman, CJ Carmody and AG Bleijie (L to R)

SCIENCE Minister Ian Walker has warned critics of new Chief Justice Tim Carmody’s appointment to “put a sock in it” – while stopping short of declaring his own confidence in him.

Responding to calls for Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to consider stepping down by Australian Bar Association president Mark Livesey QC, Mr Walker – a former solicitor - said it was time for all sides to stop fuelling the dispute.

“All of these issues surrounding the appointment of the Chief Justice have come to this – the war of words that’s out there has got to stop,” he said.

“People have got to put a sock in it, they’ve got to shut up and they’ve got to let Justice Carmody get on with the job.

“He deserves a fair go at the job, the debate should stop and Justice Carmody should be allowed to get on with the job that he’s been appointed to do.”

Mr Livesey had urged Mr Bleijie to consider the move following allegations that he leaked the details of a confidential discussion with Queensland barrister Peter Davis QC.

“People’s comments from the sidelines aren’t helpful now and they should cease,” Mr Walker said.

He said he the legal community needed to give Mr Carmody a “fair go”, adding that he would not be “getting into the commentary”.

When asked whether he would be happy to step in as Attorney-General if Mr Bleijie were to step aside, he said: “None of these contributions to the debate are helpful at the moment.”

Asked for his personal view on Mr Carmody’s appointment, Mr Walker would only say the new Chief Justice deserved a “fair go”.

“I’ve just said a number of times, the debate and the war of words has got to stop , Chief Justice Carmody’s been appointed, let’s give him a fair go, let’s get him get on with the job that he’s been appointed to do,” he said.

When directly asked whether he had “confidence” in Justice Carmody, Mr Walker again pointed to a need for the “war of words” to stop, but did not explicitly say he did.

OVERNIGHT, The Sunday Mail reported that a row between members of the legal fraternity and the Newman Government over the appointment of the State’s new Chief Justice Tim Carmody is continuing to deepen with calls for Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to resign over the furore.

Australian Bar Association president Mark Livesey QC yesterday called on Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to consider stepping down amid allegations details of a confidential meeting he and a staffer had with Queensland barrister Peter Davis QC over the appointment of Mr Carmody were leaked to other parties including Mr Carmody.

Mr Bleijie denies the allegation he or anyone in his office leaked details of the meeting, dismissing it as “rumour and innuendo”.

“The well-accepted practice is that consultation before an appointment, any appointment, is confidential, and kept confidential,” Mr Livesey said.

“The present position is untenable. The Attorney General of Queensland must consider whether the breakdown in trust can be repaired. If confidentiality in the judicial appointment process cannot be assured he must reconsider whether he can continue in his position.”

Queensland Law Society president Ian Brown also raised concerns about the alleged confidentiality breach in an email to his members yesterday.

“The matters raised by Peter Davis QC are of singular concern as they go to the process of judicial appointment which, if tainted, runs the very great risk of undermining the confidence of the profession and the community in individual appointments which then flows onto the larger institution of the courts. Such an outcome cannot be contemplated,” Mr Brown wrote.

“The issues raised must be addressed if we are to preserve confidence in our system of justice.”


The US-Australia Military Alliance against China

Some rather paranoid Leftist comments below but there is information there too.  Concern about China appears to be dismissed by the author but is well justified in the light of their huge recent and ongoing naval buildup

US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have announced a series of agreements that will open up more Australian bases for American forces and further integrate its military into the US preparations for war against China.

No details were provided after a brief meeting at the White House on Thursday, but there is no doubt that the agreements mark another escalation of the Australian government’s involvement in Washington’s military and strategic “pivot” to Asia to confront China.

Abbott underscored the total commitment of his government to US war plans. “I want to assure the president that Australia will be an utterly dependable ally of the United States,” he declared.

Within hours, Abbott offered to provide whatever the US needed for military intervention in Iraq to try to shore up the Baghdad regime after its defeats at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Abbott, who was a member of the Howard government that joined the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, made clear his government’s readiness to again assist Washington’s criminal operations.

Briefed by “defence sources,” the Australian Financial Review reported today: “Australia could send jet fighters, warships and transport aircraft to support US air and drone strikes.”

Obama said that alongside the expanding rotational deployments of US Marines to Darwin, in northern Australia—due to reach 2,500 by 2017—“we actually have arrived at additional agreements around force postures that will enhance the bilateral cooperation between our militaries and give us additional reach throughout this very important part of the world.”

The US president provided an ominous indication of the militarist agenda involved. “Aussies know how to fight and I like having them in a foxhole if we’re in trouble,” he told the media after the meeting with Abbott.

Arrangements under discussion behind closed doors since Obama formally declared the “pivot” on the floor of the Australian parliament in 2011, under the previous Gillard Labor government, have been finalised.

The US-Australia Force Posture Agreement reportedly provides an open-ended mechanism for wider US military operations in Australia. According to the Australian: “The legally-binding agreement, approved in principle but yet to be concluded by officials, sets out the responsibilities of each jurisdiction for the US personnel based on Australian soil.”

As indicated by recent Pentagon-funded reports, which identified Australia as a crucial platform for operations against China, these agreements are certain to include base upgrades to facilitate US air force operations from northern Australia, use by US fleets of the Stirling naval base near Perth in Western Australia, and the deployment of surveillance aircraft and drones on the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean.

One such report, by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the Stirling base was critical for US nuclear submarine operations and nominated Australia as the US military’s “Gateway to the Indo-Pacific”—a launching pad for US naval and air strikes. (See: “US think tank report: Australia central to American war plans against China”).

The Australian today indicated that one option now being considered was to base more US Navy destroyers and other vessels at the Western Australian base, “giving the US the capacity to project force further into the region.”

No coverage in the Australian media mentioned another far-reaching commitment. A White House Fact Sheet on the Obama-Abbott meeting, spoke of “working together to identify potential Australian contributions to ballistic missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region.” The Pentagon’s ballistic missile shield program is designed to neutralise China’s capacity to respond to a US nuclear attack.

This collaboration was referred to in the Labor government’s 2013 Defence White Paper and last November’s AUSMIN communiqué issued in Washington. According to the Lowy Institute, a pro-US Australian think tank, this will accelerate under the Liberal-National government, involving the Australian Defence Force “mounting advanced missiles on its Aegis-equipped air warfare destroyers.”

The Wall Street Journal highlighted the significance of this initiative, under the headline “U.S. and Australia to Cooperate on Asian Missile-Defense Plans” and noted that it was directed against China. “Australia is building a new fleet of warships that could be equipped to shoot down hostile missiles, as part of an ambitious military buildup that includes investments in new stealth-fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, amphibious carriers and submarines. The revamp will cost close to $A90 billion ($US85 billion) over a decade,” it stated.

Obama specifically thanked Abbott for ramping up Australian military spending. The Lowy Institute said this indicated that Canberra had agreed to foot the bill for the new military facilities across northern Australia, an issue that had been outstanding since 2011.

Acutely conscious of public opposition to plans for war, the Abbott government has so far kept secret this issue, along with proposals for the hosting of US warships and amphibious groups in Perth, which have been discussed in detail during recent US congressional hearings. The Lowy Institute urged the government to find ways “to bring the public along with what officials have been privately discussing for years.”

Abbott and Obama avoided any explicit reference to China, but the White House Fact Sheet denounced “the use of intimidation, coercion, or force to advance maritime claims in the East and South China Seas.” Washington is actively instigating territorial conflicts with China by its regional allies, notably Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as a pretext for confronting China. While Abbott was in the US, his government also boosted its military ties with Japan.

Before meeting Obama, Abbott told the Sydney Daily Telegraph he would call on the president to deepen intelligence cooperation within the “five eyes” network—involving the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand—in the wake of Edward Snowden’s damaging disclosures of the mass surveillance being conducted by the US and its partners. No reports of this discussion have appeared, however.

In Washington, Abbott extended the term of Australia’s ambassador, former defence minister and Labor leader Kim Beazley, a long-time defender of the US alliance. This highlights the bipartisan support in Canberra for US militarism.

During his trip, Abbott also sought to enhance already close economic ties with the US by including large corporate delegations in his travels, from companies such as BHP Billiton, Lend Lease and Macquarie Group. He rang the bell on the Wall Street stock exchange, told corporate audiences that Australia is “open for business” and stressed the half trillion dollar or so investment stakes that each country had in the other.

On his way back to Australia over the weekend, Abbott will stop off in Hawaii to visit the US Pacific Command, where senior Australian officers have been inserted, further underlining Canberra’s integration into the US war machine.


Cape York’s Wild Rivers victory

Greenies 0; Blacks 1

QUEENSLAND’S Wild Rivers legislation has been declared invalid in Cape York, ending a five-year struggle by indigenous groups to preserve the right to pursue economic opportunities in the region.

A Federal Court judge yesterday ruled that a Queensland minister erred in law five years ago in declaring three rivers on the cape as “wild”.

The main objection of indigenous groups was that the legislation stopped potential economic development of the region in far north Queensland by “locking up” the rivers and the areas around them. They claimed the previous state Labor government had undertaken the Wild Rivers plan to win green preferences in city seats it needed to retain power.

The Federal Court decision centred on the Bligh government’s action in declaring the Archer, Lockhart and Stewart rivers on Cape York as wild rivers on April 3, 2009, only weeks after the state election that saw the ALP government returned.

Federal Court judge Andrew Greenwood found yesterday that the decision was made too quickly and without enough consideration of the views of the traditional owners.

“The decision to make the declarations was a function of urgently delivering on an election promise ... the declarations got ahead of the formulation of the material addressing the preconditions upon which the exercise of the power rested,” he wrote in his judgment.

The government had received 3062 submissions about the declarations, but 2577 of these were pro forma submissions made through the Wilderness Society’s website.

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, who led the opposition to Wild Rivers by arguing that it deprived indigenous people of economic opportunities, said yesterday that the five-year legal struggle had diverted attention from key areas such as health and education on the cape.

He said new projects that could provide jobs for indigenous people in areas such as horticulture and tourism could now begin.

“Traditional owners should decide whether they want conservation or a mixture of both,’’ Mr Pearson said.

“We don’t want this unilaterally imposed on them by political deals in Brisbane.’’

“It’s a just process, but it really shouldn’t have taken five years to reach this point.”

The Archer, Lockhart and Stewart rivers were the most prominent of the 12 rivers gazetted under the legislation. Most of the others are in western Queensland such as Coopers Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina Basins, but some are on the east coast of Cape York, such as Hinchinbrook near Ingham.

While the Newman government has set in train a process of regional land plans on Cape York that would supersede Wild Rivers, the legislation still exists elsewhere in the state and is not due to be debated until August, when it is expected to be extinguished.

“So they have made promises, but after two years, it still hasn’t happened,” Mr Pearson said.

“At the end of the day, the court victory came before anything else.” Mr Pearson was scathing in his criticism of former Labor premier Anna Bligh and former natural resources minister Stephen Robertson, who made the Wild Rivers declarations.

The Cape York leader said yesterday: “They should hang their heads in shame having put our people through five years of struggle.’’

The action was brought forward by traditional owner Martha Koowarta, the widow of 1980s Cape York land rights campaigner John Koowartha who successfully challenged Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s government over a land rights claim in 1982.

Mrs Koowarta, who lives in the Cape York town of Aurukun but was in Brisbane for the judgment yesterday, was elated at the outcome.

“I’m so happy,’’ she said outside the court.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the court outcome vindicated the Liberal National Party’s opposition to the Wild Rivers scheme when it was in opposition. The court awarded costs against the government.

“I can’t say we’re happy about it, but otherwise it would be the indigenous groups who paid,” Mr Seeney said.

The main supporter of Wild Rivers was the Wilderness Society. It said that the river catchments on Cape York would now be exposed to “risky industrial development such as open-cut mining, in-stream dams and intense irrigated agriculture”.

“Queensland is blessed with some of the last remaining free-flowing rivers left on the planet and they need to be treasured,” said Queensland campaign manager Tim Seelig.


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