Carmody crisis still alive
Justice John Muir again criticised the appointment of Tim Carmody to the role of Queensland Chief Justice. It comes on the back of a June speech to the North Queensland Bar Association urging Carmody not to take up the position. Carmody had been propelled into the top job by the Newman Government after only eight months spent as Chief Magistrate.
This week Muir was incensed at an invitation made by Nudgee College “Oldboys” for Carmody to deliver a speech at a business breakfast next month. Both men attended the college in their youths.
In an email obtained by the ABC that was sent to former Nudgee College classmates, Muir said Carmody being appointed Chief Justices was like “…an average player in the worst performing rugby club team to captain the Wallabies. But the analogy is far from adequate. That person would be able to play for both halves and would have a reasonable understanding of the rules of the game.”
Muir went on to assure recipients that it was not personal but Carmody had no experience in “complex civil litigation” which the Supreme Court spends over half its time dealing with.
By Wednesday, on @612Brisbane, Garrick Professor in Law James Allan from the University of Queensland was appealing for calm and advising that it was time for all to move on.
Allan put the current crisis down to politics within the judiciary. People who had been previously appointed by Labor were being hypercritical and possessing an expectation that the most intelligent judge should automatically be appointed. He said the level of criticism “was over the top”.
“Is it true that the LNP was hamfisted? I think absolutely. Did Carmody mishandle a lot of things? Absolutely. Should the present judges now just shut up and get back to work? I think yes they should. This has gone on too far. I think the former Chief Justice de Jersey is right and there’s a lot more going on here than just some pretended desire to enforce great credentials in our top judiciary,” he said.
Without mentioning names, Allan commented that many previous judicial appointments had first appeared inappropriate but went on to become great choices.
However, following Allan on @612Brisbane was retired Supreme Court Judge Richard Chesterman who was not so forgiving and warned against the damage to the public confidence in the judiciary.
“My concern is that by his own admission he doesn’t have the necessary legal knowledge for what is a very demanding role. The second is he has no experience as a judge of a court of general jurisdiction and the third is he doesn’t have the confidence of the profession or the support of his judges,” he said.
“He’ll be an ineffective leader of the state’s judiciary.”
To hear the full Allan-Chesterman interviews you can listen back here.
By Thursday, The Courier Mail went over the top with a front page and inner double page spread dedicated to a conspiracy amongst the state’s top judges to bring down Carmody with “bench warfare”.
The main article “Chief Justice Tim Carmody faces open revolt by Supreme Court judges” and surrounding ones were peppered with phrases such as “revolt”, “push” and “deliberate campaign against the Chief Justice”.
The paper implied that senior members of the judiciary were attempting to have Carmody appointed to a different position and were “behind a public campaign to try to force… Chief Justice Carmody to quit his post” and that they had been encouraging “retiring or retired judges to publicly attack him and have vowed to continue… until he resigns.”
The entire report was torpedoed later in the day in a joint Supreme Court of Queensland media release in which three judges, Justice Philip McMurdo, Justice Martin Daubney and Justice David Boddice accused The Courier Mail of publishing “false statements”.
“It is a matter of grave concern that The Courier Mail published these false statements without referring them to us for comment before publication,” they wrote.
At a welcoming ceremony on Friday, Carmody sat alone with new Justice Peter Flanagan. No other supreme court judges attended leaving two conspicuous vacant rows.
However, President of the Queensland Bar Association, Shane Doyle, welcomed the new Chief Justice and called for all to move forward.
“That controversy was, or should be now, in the past.”
Chief Justice Tim Carmody cannot be removed from his position unless convicted of a criminal activity. He remains in the role until he retires at age 70 or voluntarily decides to step down.
CJ Carmody apologises to family for distress appointment has caused them, appears choked up @9NewsBrisbane
— Tessa Scott (@TessaScott9) July 31, 2014
Dr Chris Davis admonished by The Courier Mail
The Courier Mail also embroiled itself in other misrepresentation claims when it attacked former LNP MP Dr Chris Davis. Branded a ‘turncoat’, Davis appeared on the front page of Wednesday’s edition after resigning from the LNP and filling an application to join the Labor Party of Queensland.
With the membership yet to be approved by the party, it appears the news outlet cherry picked a supplied statement from Dr Davis on his thoughts on his future with Labor. Later in the day he released the full content of the statement on Facebook.
You can read the full story at our NoFibs special report here.
Tony Fitzgerald QC under attack by cohort of Newman Government and News Corp
Another blow was dealt to The Courier Mail on Saturday when Tony Fizgerald QC admitted to being threatened by the Newman Government for speaking publicly against the appointment of Chief Justice Tim Carmody.
“(The government’s) strategy, in conjunction with its News Corporation ally, is to distract attention from Carmody’s unsuitability and its inability to justify his appointment by attacking the other judges and other critics,” he wrote in a media statement.
“As one of the critics … I knew that the personal attacks would occur and know that they will continue, not only from past personal experience but because I was threatened with precisely what is occurring from within the government earlier in the week.”
He went on to state that the Newman Government has kept up a “sustained attack” against the independence of the Queensland judiciary and have “combined forces” with News Corporation to defend Justice Carmody’s appointment.
The Courier Mail’s Des Houghton labelled Mr Fitzgerald “irritant of the week” in his Saturday column.
The Courier Mail takes a hit in the polls
For the first time in its seven year history, @BrisbaneTimes was Queensland’s most read online news resource. In Nielsen figures for July the online paper claimed more page views and commanded 59pc of engagement time.
“What this proves is that while you can buy an audience via aggressive search engine marketing campaigns, boosted social media posts, and blatant short-term clickbait strategy – you can’t buy loyalty. And that’s where our sincere thanks to you, our readers, kicks in,” he wrote.
The poll topped off a very bad week for The Courier Mail.
New Governor in town
Paul de Jersey became Queensland’s 26th Governor on Monday afternoon. He was sworn in by his replacement as Chief Justice, Tim Carmody. Vowing to represent all people, he also became the first Queensland Governor to open a Twitter account, @QldGovernor.
Earlier, a tearful Governor Penelope Wensley departed government house saying it had been “a privilege and an honour” to serve.
— Amber Austin-Wright (@AmberAW) July 28, 2014
— Queensland Governor (@QldGovernor) July 29, 2014
Premier Campbell Newman spent the week not answering journalists’ questions and refused to comment on either Chief Justice Tim Carmody or Dr Chris Davis’ application to join the Labor Party. Instead he chose to talk about jobs and “The Queensland Plan”, a 30 year projection of what the state will look like.
“If at first you don’t succeed…just keep saying nothing.
Premier Campbell Newman went to the Port of Brisbane on Wednesday morning to talk about the Port of Brisbane, jobs, growth in the Queensland economy and Thursday’s Queensland Plan.
And nothing else.”
Described by the Opposition as “the fly-in, fly-out Premier”, Newman arrived in Hervey Bay to announce the plan would be legislated later in the year. He also pledged to move public servants out of Brisbane and into the regions. He also called for a new defense base and hinted at possible tax incentives. He also noted that it was not his plan but belonged to the people of Queensland who had helped to construct it through consultation both using online resources and in a series of conferences.
However, the plan to move the population out of the South-East corner of Queensland has been announced by two previous governments. Labor had a “T20” plan which the LNP ridiculed at the time as being too far into the future. In response, the Labor Party frowned on this latest plan as lacking purpose.
The large distances between Queensland regional centres have traditionally been a challenge for governments in providing infrastructure.
Crime statistics get ‘Newmaned’
On July 14, 2014, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart took the unusual step of briefing the Newman Government cabinet on the fall of crime in the state more than six weeks ahead of the annual announcement in September. It was also in the lead up to the Stafford by-election and just prior to Queensland budget estimates hearings. It gave the government an opportunity to talk about other matters than the questions being posed by the Opposition.
You can read more at our NoFibs report here.
Tweet of the week: Can CanDo get out of the way?
— Shaun Nancarrow (@cellardweller13) July 30, 2014