The man who headed the landmark 1980s inquiry into Queensland corruption says the government’s olive branch to judges is ‘politically motivated’.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s move to rebuild relations with judges has been slammed as “political damage control” by a renowned corruption fighter.
Mr Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie have met the heads of the supreme, district and magistrate courts, along with groups representing Queensland’s barristers and lawyers, after nine months of turmoil over sex offender and bikie laws.
But Tony Fitzgerald, who headed a landmark Queensland corruption inquiry in the late 1980s, said the government’s “staged reconciliation” with the judiciary was an “attempt at political damage control”.
“Its politically-motivated expressions of regret for its behaviour can’t possibly be regarded as sincere,” he said in a statement.
“For the moment, at least, it’s transparently clear that the government doesn’t really regret its actions or intend to change its behaviour.”
Mr Fitzgerald also slammed the appointment of Tim Carmody as chief justice only nine months after he went from being a barrister to chief magistrate.
“Unless the government offers a credible explanation, speculation about Carmody’s relationships and the reasons for his appointment as chief justice … will raise doubts about judicial independence, which will blight Queensland’s legal system for years to come,” he said.
He noted how Justice Carmody, who had never been a Supreme Court judge, was appointed to judicial posts after heading a child protection inquiry, which made the “politically-charged recommendation” that former Labor premier Wayne Goss’s entire cabinet be considered for prosecution over the shredding of juvenile centre abuse documents in 1990.
The Liberal National Party’s thrashing at last weekend’s Stafford by-election has seen the government reinstate the requirement for the chair of the Crime and Corruption Commission to have bipartisan support and spare convicted bikies from wearing pink overalls in jail.
But Mr Fitzgerald said its failure to reverse contentious changes, such as the lifting of political donation disclosures from $1000 to $12,400, showed it had failed to correct its “most egregious mistakes”.
Comment has been sought from Mr Newman and Mr Bleijie.