Judicial Appointments by the Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland. (December 2007 to present)
The Federal Labor Government came to power at the end of 2007. They took over from the John Howard led Liberal/National Government who had a blatant history of appointing their own boys and girls as judges and magistrates. While in opposition the Shadow Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Labor even criticised the Howard led government for this. (click here for more)
Chris Merritt, Legal affairs editor at The Australian wrote in an article in 2007:
“THE system of appointing judges – including High Court judges – has all the credibility of the emperor’s new clothes.
It’s a joke and everyone knows it. Every country with which Australia likes to compare itself has abandoned this kind of appointment system.”
To read the full story click here
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.”
This turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors and Mr McClelland and Labor got straight down to business in appointing their own labor party cronies as judges and magistrates.
The first three appointments as Federal Court of Australia Judges were Justice Nye Perram, Justice Jayne Jagot and Justice Lindsay Foster. The problem being is that the government asked the advisory panel to recommend two judges which they did and then the Government went ahead and appointed three judges. So the question has to be asked who was the third judge and where did they come from. It is also worth noting that both Justice Perram and Jagot both have strong labor party connections. Lindsay Foster’s background I have little knowledge of.
The appointment of judges and magistrates needs to be done transparently and publicly by an independent body and until that is the case the Government of the day will continue to appoint their own boys and girls as they rely on the courts on a regular basis for judgements that assist the Government.
I could go on but I will leave you with this article by Kirk McKenzie on newmatilda.com about Chief Justice French of the High Court of Australia who was appointed by Robert McClelland in 2008. While the article seems to support Robert French in showing that he is unbiased from a political view-point the article only raises one case to support this but raises a number of issues that as far as I am concerned make his tenure as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia untenable. Some of those being his clear and blatant close connections to the labor party, especially being the God Father to the daughter of the former leader of Federal Labor Party, Kim Beazley. The bottom line is there is a clear perception of perceived bias, this is not good enough especially for the highest judicial position in the country. (click here for the full article)
By Shane Dowling
(I have had personal experience in the Federal Court with Nye Perram and Jayne Jagot and I accuse both of them of acting corruptly in my book “Love Letters from the Bar Table”. An allegation which they both know about but have not refuted.)