The controversy surrounding the appointment of Queensland’s new Chief Justice continues. In his valedictory speech, retiring judge Alan Wilson indicated that the Court was suffering from a ‘lack of leadership’. Of note, he indicated that the Chief Justice had sacked Justice Byrne as Chief Judge Administrator — an event that had been protested and subsequently reversed. Further, he alleged that the Chief Justice had sought to ‘contest the automatic operation of [a] protocol’ for the constitution of the Court of Disputed Returns, ‘in the teeth of a possible contest about the outcome of the election in Ferny Grove’. Reports have also emerged about the Chief Justice’s workload, suggesting that he is allocated many fewer sitting days than his predecessor. While there is no question as to ongoing competent administration of justice in Queensland, the apparent unhappiness of the bench and the unsettling allegations inevitably cast a shadow.
At the other end of George Street, things have not been much better. After winning the ‘unwinnable’ election (just) the newly installed Palaczszuk government sacked one of its members from the ALP — in a parliament where every member counts. The Member for Cook, Billy Gordon, had failed to disclose a criminal record and at the same time, allegations surfaced of domestic violence and failure to lodge tax returns. The ensuing public discussion, calling for the MP’s resignation, has failed to articulate which aspect of his background — or non-disclosure of it — affects his right to continue to sit.
KATE GALLOWAY teaches law at James Cook University