Three federal politicians are still under the threat of possible jail as Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Marilyn Warren attacks free speech and tries to cover-up judicial bribery. On Friday the Supreme Court reserved its decision on whether or not to proceed with contempt of court charges against federal MP’s Health Minister Greg Hunt, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar.
Judicial bribery was also raised in court on Friday and implied it should not be reported in the media which is amazingly brazen in an attempt to cover-up judicial corruption.
The Supreme Court of Victoria claims that the three federal politicians have undermined the public’s confidence in the judiciary and breached the separation of powers that says we should have an independent judiciary who should be free from political interference.
But Australia has never had a true separation of powers given every judge in the country has been appointed by politicians and a lot of the judges and magistrates are political cronies.
I’m in a unique position to comment on this matter as I have also been charged with contempt of court for criticising a NSW judge and court registrar which is at a point where a Notice of a Constitutional Matter has been issued to all the Australian Attorney-Generals. (Click here to read more)
A journalist and The Australian newspaper are also potentially facing contempt charges and they were also represented in court by a barrister named Mr Houghton on Friday for the contempt of court committal hearing. Justice Weinberg asked him a question as per below:
Justice Weinberg asked Mr Houghton whether The Australian would have published a story where judges were alleged to have been bribed and corrupt.
“It would depend on the context,” he answered.
“Is that a serious answer?” the judge responded. (Click here to read more)
Why would a judge ask a question about the media reporting judicial bribery and then say, “Is that a serious answer?” when he got a response he didn’t like. Of course, the media should report judicial bribery. Fairfax Media and the ABC’s Four Corners reported in 2015 that the Australian Mafia bribed NSW judges $2.2 million. (Click here to read more) Was Justice Weinberg suggesting judicial bribery like that shouldn’t be reported? From what he said it seems so.
On Tuesday (13/6/17) The Australian published a story titled “Victorian judiciary ‘light on terrorism’” which started off:
Senior ministers including a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet have launched an extraordinary attack on the Victorian judiciary, claiming it was advocating lighter sentences for terrorists as part of “ideological experiments”.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has led a charge of fellow Victorian federal ministers who have blasted the Victorian court system for becoming a forum for “ideological experiments” that ignored the reality of the local and global terrorism threat.
“Comments by senior members of the Victorian courts endorsing and embracing shorter sentences for terrorism offences are deeply concerning — deeply concerning,” Mr Hunt told The Australian.
“The Andrews government should immediately reject such statements and sentiments.
“The state courts should not be places for ideological experiments in the face of global and local threats from Islamic extremism that has led to such tragic losses.”
The escalation in rhetoric by the federal government follows a series of sentencing decisions in Victoria involving serious and violent offences, and follows comments last week by the Chief Justice, Marilyn Warren, presiding over an appeal by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions against a 7½-year non-parole sentence imposed last year on Anzac Day plotter Sevdet Ramadan Besim.
Besim pleaded guilty to an act in preparation of planning a terrorist attack in 2015, in which he would run down and behead a police officer, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. (Click here to read more)
The story also had the below picture.
The judges claim a lot of what was reported in The Australian article regarding what the judges said in court was taken out of context and misleading which The Australian did not dispute in court on Friday.
Supreme Court of Victoria threaten charges
The following day on Wednesday (14/6/17) it was reported:
Three senior Turnbull government ministers will be hauled before the Supreme Court of Victoria to explain why they should not be charged with contempt after accusing the judiciary of advocating softer sentences for terrorists.
In an explosive development, the Supreme Court has ordered Health Minister Greg Hunt, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to appear on Friday “to make any submissions as to why they should not be referred for prosecution for contempt”.
A letter from Judicial Registrar Ian Irving obtained by Fairfax Media says comments by the three ministers published in the The Australian accusing the judiciary of going soft on terrorists would appear to bring the court into disrepute.
“The attributed statements were published whilst the judgements of the Court of Appeal were reserved,” the letter says. (Click here to read more)
The same thing happened to me in February when Justice Robert Beech-Jones wanted me to go to court and argue why I shouldn’t be charged with contempt for criticising judges and a court registrar. Justice Beech-Jones also put a dodgy suppression order on elements of the matter so I could not name 2 judges and the registrar and say what I said which I breached and wrote a story about it. (Click here to read more) This is relevant because Justice Robert Beech-Jones has publicly attacked the three federal politicians:
Justice Robert Beech-Jones, president of the Judicial Conference of Australia which represents judges and magistrates, said the comments were a slur on the Victorian judiciary.
Justice Beech-Jones warned the comments threatened to undermine public confidence in the courts.
“The statements attributed to the ministers are deeply troubling. They represent a threat to the rule of law. They should never have been made,” he said on Tuesday. (Click here to read more)
Justice Beech-Jones has prejudged the 3 MP’s. I wonder of Justice Beech-Jones will now be charged with contempt?
Supreme Court Hearing – Friday 16/6/17
On Friday, the Supreme Court of Victoria had a committal hearing to determine whether or not the 3 federal MP’s should be charged. The hearing was heard by the 3 judges who also heard one of the cases that the MP’s were accused of trying to influence. You can watch a video of it on the court’s website. (Click here to watch the video)
The judges reserved their decision and no time frame was given for when a judgment would be given. From watching the video of the hearing, I was left with the impression that the judges will decide to have the 3 MP’s charged with contempt. The MP’s withdrew their statements but refused to apologise:
Three Turnbull government ministers have refused to apologise for their statements that put Victoria’s highest court in an “embarrassing and invidious” position.
Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, QC, representing Health Minister Greg Hunt, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, told a packed Supreme Court that the ministers regret their statements, but will not apologise for them.
This week, Mr Hunt accused the Victorian legal system of becoming a forum for “ideological experiments” as the Court of Appeal considered a federal prosecutor’s appeal over the sentence of convicted terrorist Sevdet Ramadan Besim.
The three Victorian ministers – all qualified lawyers – face being charged with contempt of court for their public comments, which were made before the Court of Appeal had announced its ruling on the appeals of Besim and another teenager jailed for terrorism offences known as MHK.
Those convicted of contempt of court face fines and potential jail terms.
Mr Sukkar told The Australian newspaper the judiciary should focus more on victims and less on terrorists’ rights, while Mr Tudge said some judges were “divorced from reality”. (Click here to read more)
Concerns that if the MP’s are charged and found guilty they will have to resign which would cause a constitutional crisis
There are some concerns that if the 3 MP’s are charged and found guilty they will have to resign.
Senior government sources have confirmed if convicted there are fears the MPs could be ineligible to sit in Parliament, meaning the government would lose its one seat majority.
This is due to Section 44 of the Constitution, which precludes anyone who is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer from remaining as an MP. (Click here to read more)
For whatever reason most of the media seem to have gone quiet on the issue. Maybe they are too scared to upset the judges.
If the three MP’s are charged and the court could keep the focus solely on the allegation that the MP’s tried to influence the court’s 2 cases where the judgments had been reserved then there might be some argument that MP’s had been in contempt of court.
But I have no doubt that if the 3 MP’s are charged with contempt then the whole situation will spill out into the wider issues of systemic judicial corruption and the failings of the courts in Australia and that’s where it becomes very dangerous for all the corrupt judges.
It is because of the wider judicial problems that I believe the MP’s should not be charged with contempt and that we all have the right to criticise judges at any time during a court case because the judges are not being kept accountable as it currently stands.
We need a Royal Commission into the Australian judiciary for corruption and their failings. We don’t need to waste money on having politicians charged with contempt for voicing legitimate opinions.
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