Judicial Appointments

Justice Michael McHugh – High Court of Australia

Profile of Michael McHugh, former Judge of the High Court of Australia February 1989 to November 2005.

This is my first profile of a Judge on this site. The key element that I am looking for when profiling a Judge is to see if there is anything in their background that makes them unsuitable for the position of a Judge. Whether that be a history of corruption or connections that leave them open for allegations of bias or perceived bias. In Australia one thing that the term Separation of Powers implies is that the Judiciary is meant to act and function independently from the Government. (Click here to read more)

With Michael McHugh it is very simple, he was and is married to a former Federal Politician, Jeannette McHugh. She represented Labor at the federal level from 1983 to 1996. For this period the Labor Party were in power.

So at the time of his appointment as a Judge to the High Court of Australia his wife was part of the Government that decided to appoint him. What was her role in having him appointed? Are we to believe he would have acted impartially when handing down decisions that affected the Government and his wife?

In 1993 Jeannette McHugh was made Minister for Consumer Affairs. As with most Government Departments they would have had numerous legal proceedings before the courts. Even if none had gone to the High Court of Australia, the judgements of the High Court of Australia affect all of the lower courts in that they are bound by the precedents that the High Court of Australia sets. So one has to wonder did any of Michael McHugh’s judgements benefit his wife in any shape or form. Did any of his judgements benefit the Labor Government at the time?

To me it was a clear and blatant political appointment and makes the Separation of Powers look like a joke.

This is an old story but well worth looking at as it does not get much worse than that when it is clear nepotism. As you will see with future profiles that I post on this site not much has changed.

How are the public meant to have confidence in the Judiciary?

There is a good story by the reporter Paul Kelly in The Australian in relation to Michael McHugh it starts off:

“FORMER High Court judge Michael McHugh was pivotal in saving Bob Hawke’s government from a security scandal.  As a barrister, Mr McHugh gave the former prime minister private advice on managing the 1983 Combe-Ivanov affair.”

“The book reveals that when ASIO briefed Mr Hawke on the links between former ALP national secretary David Combe and Soviet KGB operative Valery Ivanov, the prime minister feared his government might be finished. Mr Hawke was convinced that “if this blows, we’ll only last one term”.”

“For the first time, Mr McHugh discloses the private advice he gave Mr Hawke. It came after Mr McHugh’s wife, Jeanette, a Labor MP, brought home to her husband that “the government’s life” depended upon a favourable finding from royal commissioner Robert Hope.” (Click here to read the full article)

For Michael McHugh’s Wikipedia profile click here

For Jeannette McHugh’s Wikipedia profile click here

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