Gillard government exempts Fair Work Australia from new corrupt judge laws. Why?

The Gillard government has introduced two bills to parliament which if passed will supposedly better help deal with corrupt and derelict judicial officers. For some unknown but scandalous reason Fair Work Australia judicial officers have been exempted from the new laws.

Four questions were put to the attorney general Nicola Roxon by me with the fourth question about Fair Work Australia’s exemption being ignored.

I was originally going to focus substantially on the new laws but that has now been sent for an inquiry by the Senate and we can deal with that later. But it worth having a look at a few details before I get into the FWA exemption.

Two new Bills

My last post dealt with the fact that I could not get some basic questions answered from the AG in relation to the proposed new laws and showed the correspondence supporting that.

As I said in the previous post “There are two bills currently before parliament. The first one is called the  “Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Bill 2012” and provides a mechanism that would assist the Parliament s consideration of the removal of a judge from office. This is nothing but a time waster and the second bill is called the “Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Bill 2012” and gives a legislative basis for a largely non statutory framework to assist the Chief Justices of the Federal Court, the Family Court and the Chief Federal Magistrate to manage complaints within their courts. Another time waster as the Chief justices just sweep complaints under the carpet.”

“What is needed in a truly independent body to deal with complaints against judges and magistrates but I will deal with that in my next post on this matter.” (Click here to read the previous post)

The press release is as below:

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP

Attorney-General

Minister for Emergency Management

MEDIA RELEASE

14 March 2012

COMMONWEALTH first formal process for handling complaints against judges

Legislation to provide a clear, accountable and effective system for handing complaints against federal judicial officers was introduced into the Parliament today.

It is essential that the community continues to have strong confidence in our courts and a transparent and robust complaints process is fundamental to this, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said.

An open and transparent judicial system is a cornerstone of a fair and just society.

Australia’s courts are held in the highest regard and our judiciary take very seriously the responsibility entrusted to them as holders of judicial office – these reforms will strengthen our legal system.

In the rare circumstances where this might be needed, the Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Bill 2012 provides a mechanism that would assist the Parliament s consideration of the removal of a judge from office.

This Bill enables the Parliament to establish Parliamentary Commissions to investigate serious allegations of misbehaviour or incapacity relating to a judicial officer, to support a decision to remove a judge under paragraph 72(ii) of the Constitution.

The need for a Parliamentary Commission would be extremely rare, but it is nevertheless important to have fair and transparent processes in place, and to have it well in advance of a situation where it may be needed, Ms Roxon said.

The second Bill, the Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Bill 2012 gives a legislative basis for a largely non statutory framework to assist the Chief Justices of the Federal Court, the Family Court and the Chief Federal Magistrate to manage complaints within their courts.

The framework will give the heads of jurisdiction will have the ability to establish a Conduct Committee to investigate and report to them about a complaint.

The Government will continue to work closely with the courts to implement these reforms.

End of press release

If you look at the first bill, the Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Bill 2012, it says “enables the Parliament to establish Parliamentary Commissions” which is hardly independent. What you will have is politicians who appointed the judge or magistrate in the first place setting up a commission to advise the rest of the politicians whether or not the judge or magistrate should be sacked. Hardly impartial.

The commission will also have the power suppress the reporting of documents or information which means it could be abused by the politicians to hide corruption. For example the same way the Fair Work Australia has been hiding the criminal conduct of Craig Thomson and the Health Services Union.

The second Bill, the Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Bill 2012, will give the heads of the courts (Chief Justice and Chief Magistrate) the ability to establish a Conduct Committee to investigate and report to them about a complaint. They really have this capacity anyhow and do not need a committee and are highly unlikely to ever use a committee.

And what if the Chief Justice is more corrupt than any of the judicial officers under them. Say for example Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe who is one of the biggest crooks the country has ever seen. I did a post on him called “The handiwork of Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe – witness bribing, price-fixing, succumbing to blackmail to conceal a crime and lying to shareholders etc. Is there anything this man cannot do?” (Click here to read)

I originally asked three questions of the AG then added a fourth which at that stage they were still refusing to answer the questions as per my previous post. I eventually received a reply answering 3 questions from the Attorney Generals Department, not from the AG’s office. The questions that I put to the attorney general are:

1.       What was the motivation for introducing the bills?

2.       Were the bills introduced because of a large number of complaints about judges and magistrates?

3.       In 2009 a Senate inquiry handed down a report recommending that an independent body be set up to handle complaints against judicial officers. Why has this not happened and in fact been ignored.

4.       Why has Fair Work Australia been exempt from the new laws given they have judicial officers (judges and commissioners).

And a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department response was:

  • The legislation was introduced to provide a clear, accountable and effective system for handling complaints against federal judicial officers.
  • Australia continues to be very well served by its judiciary.
  • There have been very few serious complaints about judges in Australia’s judicial system which is testament to the high calibre of our judiciary and their commitment to the responsibility entrusted to them as holders of judicial office.
  • The approach taken in the legislation towards processes for handling complaints about judicial officers recognises the role of Parliament and the important role of court heads of jurisdiction to manage complaints about judicial officers that are referred to them.

The response totally ignored question 4 about FWA but going by the email that I was sent question 4 was not sent to the department by Nicola Roxon’s office. And the answer to question 3 about the 2009 the Senate inquiry is not directly answered either.

Fair Work Australia exemption

Why Fair Work Australia is exempt who knows. They have judicial officers. They do have  judges such as the President Justice Iain Ross (although they do not appoint their own judges) they have commissioners and judicial officers known as  Senior Deputy President and Deputy President.

They are appointed to the age of 65 which gives them certainty of tenure as per other judicial officers in Australia. And as you can see by the letter in the link below Julia Gillard refers to them as “judicial members to the separate  judicial division of FWA will be appointed in accordance with current processes” in her letter to the Australian Mines and Metal Association when she was Deputy Prime Minister.

Click on the link to read the letter: DPM Julia Gillard’s letter to AMMA regarding FWA appointments

As it currently stands New South Wales is the only state that has a body set up to investigate complaints about judicial officers which is called the Judicial Commission of NSW. This is limited to state judicial officers. But they do investigate complaints against commissioners at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission who are the equivalent of the commissioners at FWA. FWA was previously known as the Australian Industrial Relations Commission until the end of 2009.

Some of the commissioners have dual roles. They are commissioners at their state industrial relations commission and at FWA doing exactly the same functions.

So in summing up there is no logical reason why Fair Work Australia judicial officers are exempt from the new proposed corrupt judge laws. The only thing I can think of is that with FWA being seen as being so corrupt with the Craig Thomson / HSU scandal is would have been a bad joke to include them. The whole country would have been laughing.

Some might also think it is because the Labor government has been stacking FWA with union cronies as judicial officers. This to me is ruled out as a reason because Labor has also been stacking the bench with Labor cronies at the Federal Court, Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court.

Whatever the reason the government should come clean now and say why they have exempted Fair Work Australia from the laws. Because by itself it is absoluty scandalous but also adds to the corruption surrounding FWA in relation to their cover-up of the Craig Thomson fraud and theft

The two bills above have been referred by the Australian Senate for inquiry and report. You can make submissions up until the 27th of April 2012. (Click here to go to the government site for details) (Thanks to Allison in the comment section of the last post for bringing this to my attention)

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14 Comments on “Gillard government exempts Fair Work Australia from new corrupt judge laws. Why?”

  1. Bea April 10, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    Its just more of the Government stench we are being wallowed in.
    I once had a senior member in QLD actually say to me – “we treat people like idiots because mostly they are”
    While we have a democracy sometimes I fear we miss the point and the she’ll be right” attitude goes so far till you end up in an issue most folks just don’t care or see the issues as important.
    They exempt things for sometimes valid reasons but just like QLD did they chose to put new legislation requiring no more than a $1-2000 political donation threshold which would be great if it was accross the board but they too made an exception for unions!!
    Who cares and who says anything so nothing changes. the spin captains are on overdrive….

    Really people we have to pay attention…
    Judges people – you know the ones who uphold our laws….. can you name too many of those??

    Thank goodness for those amongst us who are not so feint hearted and have the nerve to speak up…. More of us should listen…

    Submit or submit at the link above. This must go on record even if they ignore it…

    • LizW April 10, 2012 at 5:11 am #

      That QLD member is right – there are many idiots out there. The fact that he admitted treating them as idiots is the surprising thing.

      It’s taken this disgraceful government to awaken some of us from our apathy, to realize we deserve better than this, and to achieve it, we must (as you say) pay attention and speak up.

  2. Allison April 10, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Some poking around the FWA site and their annual report has shown that they cost us, the taxpayers $78 Million a year (hope I have read the financials correctly) and employ 318 staff. For example, 43 of their staff earn between $106,000 and $124,000 annually with three earning over $125,000; 96 earn between $72,000 and $83,000. There was $572,000 spent on consultancies in the year (p58).

    It was interesting to read that FWA spent $213,000 on external legal services (p147) – why would they spend this? The President is a judge of the Federal Court and there are contributions by FWA to the Judges Pension Scheme (p108).

    Honestly how can any organisation, publicly funded, spend over 3 years preparing a report on Craig Thomson/HSU? Another six weeks or so before they release it – have to buy in some more photocopiers? Have to have more meetings?

    Senator George Brandis was right when he said they should be called “Hard Work Australia” – very tongue in cheek

  3. Paul April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    It doesn’t seem to concern Gillard, but the Thomson affair has tainted her whole Government and the Labor Party itself with a stench of corruption that even normally apolitical people are observing and being angered by. That’s my observation, just talking with friends and colleagues.

  4. frjustice April 10, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I don’t know why the expectation is that government will represent the people when all the evidence is that, that is not the case. Both Laws were put together by Lawyers in government to protect there mates in the Legal profession. They leave holes that you could drive a truck through. It is really about creating the illusion: “An open and transparent judicial system is a cornerstone of a fair and just society.” The same type of illusion that a judge is in charge of a criminal case. If they were they would be seeking the truth instead of allowing the defence team to blur the evidence. The other point about idiots, it was after the Liberal parties win over Gough Whitlam in 1975 with Malcolm Frazer’s leadership. The first TV interview with his wife Tammy said Malcolm always says to me “never under estimate the dumbness of the electorate.” Her first and last interview. Nothing has changed.

  5. Chris April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Just another scandal to add to the list of scandalous conduct under this regime. I’m not the least bit surprised. With the possible exception of McClelland and a few others, this lot are only fit for the abattoirs.

  6. Peter Gauci April 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    I can personally vouch for the fact that complaints against federal court judges are just swept under the carpet. I tried to submit one against FM Jarrett and they wouldn’t even accept it even though it clearly fell under their complaint guidelines.

    After the federal court registry committed a serious privacy breach and gave my home address to my stalker – who has been convicted for attempted to strangle someone, falsely accused a police officer of inappropriate behaviour, illegally accessed my Centrelink records, harassed me out of a job for refusing to date her, faked a series of death rape threat emails which she tried to pin on me (but which the police proved she faked and got her to confess to) etc. etc. – a federal court magistrate threatened to throw my case out if, after having moved (again), I didn’t immediately give the court (and my stalker) my new home address.

    I kid you not. And it was, unfortunately, the straw which broke this camel’s back.

    Listen to the recording of the hearing – that’s all it would have taken to assess my complaint. But the court refused to even accept it trying to claim that it didn’t fall under their complaints policy which specifically allows for complaints of judicial misconduct and defines judicial conduct thusly:

    “Judicial conduct, for the purposes of this procedure, means conduct of a Federal Magistrate in court…”

    They could not explain how his behaviour didn’t qualify as judicial conduct or give me an example of what judicial conduct was, if not a judge’s behaviour in court.

    • Chris April 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      Mr Gauci,
      I completely sympathise with you, my friend. May I suggest that you bring this to the attention of someone in a position of influence? Some one of the ilk and credibility of Alan Jones, Piers Ackerman, or Andrew Bolt? And there ARE others
      who would take up the cudgels on your behalf, also. I hope you get justice my friend. It’s fast becoming a scarce commodity in what was once a wonderful country!
      Cheers,
      Chris Ottaway.

  7. gerard crewdson April 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    I’ve had extensive experience of making complaints to the NSW Judicial Commission about serious misconduct by NSW judges including dishonesty, malice, permitting govt parties to destroy withhold evidence, -the whole process is a farce of course and always will be as it is controlled by the judges themselves..I’ve also had experience of corruption in the federal court system -the only way in which the abuses and outrages will be exposed is through sites like this..and it wouldn’t matter if the legislation was faultless and included FWA-the judges would still subvert the process and use it for their own interests

  8. Colin Jones April 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Governments past and present have always treated the general populace with contempt. This is just one more episode in Australia’s descent into hell. It is at every level of government and having the judiciary included does not surprise me in the least. God help us.
    What makes it even worse is that we are still one of the most over governed nations on the planet which means we have more than our share of blood suckers.

  9. Carol April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Of course, we all know that the Labor Party is just the political arm of the union movement. Once we realise that everything else falls into place. Their aims and goals become clear and the union culture eventually becomes the culture of the Labor Party. Instinctively we all know this to be true. Their appointees know what is to be done to help the party. “They” don’t need a phone call from Gillard to ask them to slow down the investigation it is all done on a nod and a wink and an understanding of what is needed to fulfil the ideals of the Dear Leaders.

  10. Abby April 16, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Fair Work Australia was created by Gillard and all the appointments were hand picked by her. That may possibly be the answer as to the exemption and why the Craig Thompson investigation has taken long enough to get it past the next election.

    • Chris April 16, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      Right on the money, Abby! The woman is as crooked as they come; a national disgrace to the office of PM.

  11. pointofviewsa April 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Corruption in the Judiciary? Try the proceedings of the Royal Commission investigating the Australian Wheat Board and Senior Counsel over the deal with Iraq. It would make any normal man seek other measures to redress a wrong.

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