Julia Gillard has appointed Bernard Murphy as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. When the $1 million fraud and theft of the AWU hit the fan in 1995 Ms Gillard and Mr Murphy both left Slater and Gordon lawyers around the same time as Ms Gillard’s boyfriend Bruce Wilson left the AWU for his part in the fraud and theft. (Click here to read previous postings for the background – 7th August, 28th August, 5th September, 11th September and 19th September)
This post ties in a lot with what I have previously written and for that reason I will make substantial reference to it.
Before we get started, in all fairness to Julia Gillard, she is not the first Prime Minister to corrupt the judiciary by appointing her mates as judicial officers. For example Kevin Rudd appointed his mate Chief Justice Patrick Keane and John Howard appointed his mate Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe as did others which I have written about on this blog previously and will continue to do so. But to my knowledge none have ever appointed their former boss and mentor as a judge.
Julia Gillard graduated law school in 1986 followed by a further year of study doing the Leo Cussen’s workshop which is a legal practice course in Melbourne. During this time she also did work experience at Slater and Gordon.
Bernard Murphy is the one who recruited Julia Gillard to work full-time at Slater and Gordon in 1987. She became a partner in 1990 until 1995 when she left in a hurry and became Chief of staff to Victorian Opposition Leader John Brumby from 1995 to 1998. In 1998 she was elected to the Federal seat of Lalor.
This is what Julia Gillard had to say in an interview with the Young Lawyers Journal when she was still the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to her time at Slater and Gordon:
“Did you have a great mentor in practice? What did they say to you? I worked side by side with Bernard Murphy who today is a partner at Maurice Blackburn. He taught me how to organise competing workloads, how to deal with clients, how to create the right expectations about what’s going to happen next to them in their legal case.” (Click here to read the full article)
Bernard Murphy’s father, Joe Murphy, “was a Wodonga solicitor in the 1970s and 1980s and a one-time Labor Party parliamentary candidate.” (Click here to read) So I wonder if Bernard Murphy is or was a member of the Labor Party?
Bernard Murphy’s appointment raises serious questions in relation to the separation of powers. That being the judiciary is meant to independent of the government. Mr Murphy would be well aware of this and if he had any self-respect he would not have applied for the position in the first place at least not while Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister.
This is what it says on the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers website:
“If you had asked Maurice Blackburn chairman Bernard Murphy this time last year whether he hoped to be a judge, he would have said no. “It hasn’t really been on my radar,” he admits. “It isn’t something that I had thought about until I applied in about October last year.” (So what happened between the beginning of 2010 when he had no intention of applying to be a judge and October 2010 when he applied. Well his mate Julia Gillard became Prime Minister).
“A former solicitor is rare enough on the bench; a former plaintiff lawyer is rarer still.”
“The man who once recruited Prime Minister Julia Gillard to his previous firm Slater & Gordon has spent 30 years defending the “victim” in court, as he has described clients in the past. More recently, it has been a sophisticated, shareholder victim, in the multimillion- dollar shareholder class actions Murphy has become known for.”
“Murphy built Maurice Blackburn’s class action practice – the largest in Australia – from a one-man show, winning more than $700 million in damages along the way. And he still holds the record for the largest shareholder class action settlement – $144.5 million in the 2008 Aristocrat case.” (This was not only against Aristocrat but also the directors at the time one of which was none other than Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe) – (Click here to read my posting on John Pascoe’s corrupt past)
“He applied to the bench on the recommendation of several legal practitioners and two judges, although Murphy will not say who.” Of course he will not say who. It was just one Prime Minister that’s who. (Click here to read the full article)
In my first posting on this site I covered dodgy judicial appointments by the Federal Government and the Attorney General Robert McClelland and I said this: “One thing that Robert McClelland did when he was made Attorney General was to set up two so-called independent panels to advise on appointments. One for Federal Court of Australia judges and another for Federal Magistrates Court of Australia magistrates. (click here for more) This was for the purpose as he put it “the Government has implemented more transparent processes to ensure that appointments are clearly based on merit, so that the public can have confidence that the Government is making the best possible judicial appointments.” (Click here to read the full posting)
When Bernard Murphy was appointed a judge in April 2011 this is what Robert McClelland had to say: “In 2008, the Attorney-General introduced new processes for appointing judges and magistrates to federal courts to ensure greater transparency and public confidence in the judicial appointments process.”
“The advisory panel comprised Chief Justice Patrick Keane, Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE, the Hon Acting Justice Jane Mathews AO and a senior official of the Attorney-General’s Department.” (Click here to read the press release) Obviously the three mentioned had no say in the appointment of Bernard Murphy but are happy to get paid and have their name used to give the appointment some credibility. All it really shows is how deceitful they are and that they have sold their soul for a dollar. Real classy people.
The AWU fraud
Mr Murphy’s appoint also reignites the $1 million AWU fraud that has been in the media recently. One of the things that the Julia Gillard’s supporters have been arguing is that it happened 16 years ago and is old news. Well Mr Murphy’s appointment was just over 7 months ago in April 2011 and he started as a judge in June which is five months ago.
What was Mr Murphy’s knowledge of and/or involvement in the fraud. Did he benefit financially in any way. Why has he never given a public statement of his knowledge or involvement in the fraud.
This what I said in a previous post on the 11th of September: It must be remembered that Commissioner Ian Cambridge and current AWU boss Bill Ludwig also signed off on affidavits asking some serious questions about Julia Gillard’s time at the law firm Slater and Gordon.
This shows up in an article by Glenn Milne in The Australian in November 2007 where it says:
“In an affidavit the AWU’s then joint national secretary, Ian Cambridge, raised specific questions about the role of Ms Gillard’s law firm, Slater & Gordon, in the purchase of a Melbourne property by Wilson. “I am unable to understand how Slater & Gordon, who were then acting for the Victorian branch of the union, could have permitted the use of funds which where obviously taken from the union, in the purchase of private property of this nature, without seeking and obtaining proper authority from the union for such use of its funds,” Mr Cambridge said.” The above also relates to Bernard Murphy given he was Julia Gillard’s boss at the time at Slater and Gordon.
“Current AWU boss, “Big Bill” Ludwig, a major Labor powerbroker on the Right, also provided an affidavit to the court outlining corruption involving Ms Gillard’s former lover.” (Click here to read the full article)
And this from another post on the 7th of August: “Ian Cambridge as mentioned above became a Commissioner at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in 1997. In 2009 Julia Gillard as Minister for Industrial Relations personally appointed Ian Cambridge as dual appointee to Fair Work Australia. I find this disturbing. While it could be argued that other Commissioners of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission were also given dual appointments at the same time they had not previously called for a Royal Commission into criminal conduct by Julia Gillard and her boyfriend Bruce Wilson.”
“Julia Gillard should never have appointed him and if Ian Cambridge had any self-respect he should not have accepted the position. It could be construed by some that Ian Cambridge has taken a bribe to keep his mouth shut about her criminal past.”
“I also do notice that the Australian Mines and Metals Association has documented Julia Gillard stacking the bench at Fair Work Australia with her union mates. (Click here to read).”
Bernard Murphy is not the first person from the AWU fraud scandal that Julia Gillard has appointed as a judicial officer, nor is it the first time she has been accused of corrupting the judiciary.
This is what Stephen Mayne on his website The Mayne Report had to say in an article written on the 30th August titled “Why it is okay to look at Gillard’s AWU dealings” and specifically the section titled “What were Gillard and her then boss-turned-Judge doing in mid-1995?”
“One of the PM’s Slater & Gordon bosses at the time was Bernard Murphy, who the Gillard Government in April elevated from chairman of Maurice Blackburn to the bench of the Federal Court, a position from which he will be highly unlikely to ever proffer an opinion on this saga.
“Frankly, in my opinion this looks like pretty ordinary cronyism, especially given most judges have experience at the bar and Murphy has only ever been a solicitor.”
In relation to Murphy in a law suit when he was at Slater in Gordon against the former politician Ian Smith having an affair with Cheryl Harris , a staffer who became pregnant to him, he says this “he deployed some controversial tactics in taking the long handle to Jeff Kennett’s former Finance Minister, Ian Smith.”
“Slaters was acting for Smith’s embittered former chief of staff Cheryl Harris and Bernard Murphy was calling the shots.”
“On Tuesday evening of this week I was first made aware of the allegations against me in the Magistrates Court earlier that day. This information was conveyed to me by a Herald Sun journalist who had been given a copy of the lodged documents before they were served on me. The documents were not served on me until approximately 9.50am the next morning, Wednesday, in a blaze of media coverage. This is the first serious breach of the legal process. The second breach is in the unsubstantiated allegations being publicly aired by Slater and Gordon before the court hearing. Slater and Gordon will be called to account for these disgraceful and unethical actions. Any action by me against Slater and Gordon for redress will be commenced once the Magistrates Court allegations have been disposed of and my name is vindicated.”
“This was an example of Slaters absolutely going the knuckle against a political figure in a sensational story with a sexual element. It would be interesting to know if Gillard helped her then boss in this or assisted in negotiating his subsequent exit from Slaters.” (Click here to read the full article - about half way down the page)
Ian Smith won a defamation settlement against Slater and Gordon believed to be about $200,000 over a wide range of allegations, including allegations by Harris that Smith had bashed her and tried to force her to have an abortion.
So who leaked the court documents to the media before they had even been served on Ian Smith? Slater and Gordon were running the case through the media so it had to be Bernard Murphy or at least on his direction.
This is what it says on the website Beast Lift from the time:
“In the firm’s Little Bourke Street office this week, a storyline not dissimilar to the American television show LA Law was played out. Television cameras and journalists jostled for position to record the real-life drama involving Ms Harris and Mr Smith. After the press conference, a public relations consultant with the law firm handed out photocopies of Ms Harris’s employment contract. Other handouts included photographs of Ms Harris and Mr Smith enjoying champagne and dinner on the night he allegedly proposed marriage.” (Click here to read the full article)
But Bernard Murphy seems to have tried to deny it was him or his firm. At the time he is quoted as saying on the Slater and Gordon website: “Mr Murphy said he warned Ms Harris that once she lodged a statement of claim it would be “like World War III”. “You can’t issue this type of claim without it attracting a very high level of media (attention). It never happens. Journalists are too good, clerks of court are too good. People talk too much, including lawyers.” He is trying the blame everyone else for the unethical leak but he was the one calling the press conferences. (Click here to read the full article)
At a Senate Budget estimates hearing in May 2011 the opposition did raise the question of Mr Murphy’s appointment given his relationship with Julia Gillard. The Attorney General’s Department told the hearing that the process of selecting Mr Murphy complied with all requirements. Yeah right. The opposition did not take it any further probably because of the skeletons that they have in the closet in relation to their own judicial appointments.
When judicial officers are appointed it needs to be done in open and transparent manner. Not some smoke and mirrors routine that the Attorney General Robert McClelland has set up. All judicial officers should go before a public senate committee before appointment so their suitability can be questioned as they do for the Supreme Court in the US. This alone will not stop dodgy appoints but at least it would weed out people like Mr Murphy.
I must note that Andrew Bolt after initially being closed down on the reporting of the AWU fraud did do a post relevent to the above which said:
“Ms Gillard and her boss at the time at Slater & Gordon, Bernard Murphy, who was appointed a Federal Court judge six months ago, were overseeing much of the firm’s legal work for unions including Mr Wilson’s AWU national construction branch.”
“As with Ms Gillard, there is no suggestion Mr Murphy was involved in any wrongdoing.” (Click here to read the full article)
Well the concealment of a crime is a crime. Once again what does Mr Murphy know?
Most importantly is Bernard Murphy suitable for being appointed a judge given the above. The obvious answer is no.
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