Queensland’s premier has met with senior judges to discuss tensions that have festered with his government during the past nine months.
Queensland’s premier spent one hour with senior judges before expressing his support for lawyers and the courts, but declined to rule out another clash with the legal profession.
Campbell Newman’s tensions with the legal fraternity have simmered since October 2013, when he said former Supreme Court justice Richard Chesterman and parts of the legal fraternity needed to “come out of your ivory towers” after they criticised now-invalid sex offender laws.
The premier confirmed this was discussed when he and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie had “very, very frank” discussions for almost an hour with controversial new Chief Justice Tim Carmody, the chief judge of the District Court and the new chief magistrate on Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve certainly talked about the issues of the past nine months,” he told reporters.
“We discussed the issues, the things that have been contentious.”
Mr Newman, who has also previously described critics of his sex offender laws as “apologists” for pedophiles and likened bikie lawyers to a “criminal gang machine”, said he respected lawyers.
“I conveyed to them our total support, respect for the legal profession in the state,” he said.
“Today I convey my respect for the processes of the law and our courts in Queensland.”
Mr Newman, however, declined to rule out clashing with the legal profession again when asked how he would respond if judges criticised his government’s laws.
“I’m not going to answer a hypothetical,” he said.
The premier also stood by Mr Bleijie, who has previously been accused of leaking details of a private conversation with Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.
“I’ve got every confidence in this guy,” Mr Newman said at a joint news conference.
The premier also pointed out how he came from a “legal family”, which included his mother Jocelyn Newman, a former Howard government minister.
“My late grandfather was a solicitor in Melbourne for many, many years; my mother practised as a solicitor for many years before entering politics and my own sister is a trained lawyer and I have many friends who are in the law,” he said.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was disappointing an “unprecedented” meeting between the premier and senior judges was needed.
“I hope the premier is genuine enough to apologise to the judiciary at the meeting,” she said.
“Under any other government or any other premier, this meeting would not have been necessary.”
Mr Newman has been engaging in a mea culpa this week following a massive 18.6 per cent swing against the Liberal National Party in the Stafford by-election on Saturday.