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    « The dark art of sham litigation | Main | Jackson to lead charge against ICAC »
    Wednesday
    Dec242014

    Hey, it's Christmas 

    Swearing out ... Knock About looked like a sad sack at Muir's farewell ... Appointments with echoes of Bjelke era ... Witness coaching 

    Knock About: Muir's virtues extolled

    Queensland Chief Justice Timbo (Knock About) Carmody appeared in a glum mood at last Friday's (Dec. 19) Court of Appeal farewell to John Muir. 

    Initially, the CJ had refused use of the Banco Court for the event and later relented. 

    Muir had whistle-stopped the state declaring that Knock About Carmody didn't have the goods to be CJ. He even sent dispatches to Nudgee Old Girls pointing out the dire consequences for the Supreme Court if Timbo took up the task. 

    At farewell ceremony the CJ was plonked with the Muir family, trial judges, federal judges and others in reserved seating in the body of the court. 

    The Boy Attorney General (BAG) shovelled on some praise for Muir. Timbo's frown deepened. 

    Then shiny new Tory solicitor general, Peter (Dunners) Dunning QC, had the opportunity to speak. Dunners lavished high commendation on Muir in a heart-felt and witty address, laced with anecdotes that had the crowd laughing (except for Tim).

    Poor Timbo must be wondering who wrote the AG's script and whose side Dunners is on.

    Muir ended the happy occasion with a short speech about the importance of appointing the best lawyers as judges. 

    At the end of it all Carmody looked a sad sack of a figure. Word on George Street is that the BAG is not responding to Tim's calls for extra staff for the CJ's office in the form of speech writers and sundry spin doctors. 

    *   *   *

    Meanwhile, Justice Anthe Philippedes has been lifted to the Court of Appeal to replace Muir, and Martin Burns QC runs on for the trial division. 

    Martin is a talented and hard-working lawyer. He was responsible for re-writing the rules of Rugby League. No other barrister in Australia has his knowledge of doping offences at Cronulla or what constitutes a Grade 3 high tackle. 

    Relieved judges, lawyers and other banana benders are thanking the Lord that the BAG had not dumped another drongo on the court.

    The idiosyncratic Lord Eldon's judicial ambitions remain unfulfilled.

    Could it be that the BAG is following the Muir line about appointments to the QE11 Cauldron, and has learned from his monumental mistake in appointing Carmody of Errors as CJ? 

    *   *   *

    Angelo Vasta: son Salvatore makes it to the Circus Court

    In the federal sphere it was great to see Soapy Brandis "QC" putting Sal (Son of Angelo) Vasta on the Circus Court.

    Sal was his father's associate last century, before Angelo was removed from office as a Supreme Court judge.

    Sal is a lovely fellow and an enthusiastic employee of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions.

    But he is unlikely to know his way to the Federal Circuit Court, let alone have a working knowledge of family law, immigration, bankruptcy and the other kinds of wheat ground at that mill.

    Sal's brother is Ross Vasta MP (LNP). 

    There is a distant echo from the Bjelke era. Journalist and law historian Evan Whitton recalls Angelo's appointment to the Supremes in February 1984.  

    This from his seminal work, The Hillbilly Dictator:

    "The National Party Cabinet approved the appointment of [crooked police commissioner "Sir" Terry] Lewis's friend, Angelo Vasta, as a Justice of the Supreme Court ... Vasta was 42; on seniority, he would have a good chance of one day being knighted as Sir Angelo Vasta, Chief Justice. There was opposition to the appointment from the president of the Bar Association, Bill Pincus QC, and from the government's legal adviser, Ian Callinan QC. Pincus argued that Crown Prosecutors tended to lack experience in civil work."

    This month also saw a splurge of other appointments by Gorgeous George. Old Liberal cronies have been dug up and put on boards, commissions and tribunals, including Dame Janet Albrechtsen onto the council of the National Museum 

    The National Museum is a well known dumping ground for the Liberal Party's favourite "culture warriors". The Canberra institution has only just recovered from having Little Johnny Howard's biographer, David (Boofy) Barnett, suck-up valuable oxygen at council meetings. 

    How some of these appointments will actually function is anyone's guess. But, hey, it's Christmas.

    *   *   *

    Hyde Page (centre): evidence in court

    If anyone has had the fortitude to plough thought Justice Nye Perram's meaty judgment in a tax case called Hua Wang Bank Berhad v Commissioner of Taxation they would have seen this entry at paragraph 363:   

    "It is unnecessary for me to explore in any detail the commissioner's submission that Mr Gowrie-Smith's evidence had been tainted by a conference held between Mr Gowrie-Smith and junior counsel for the taxpayers, Mr John Hyde Page. 

    The commissioner's point was that the questions which had been asked at that meeting were in leading form with the bottom line suggestion being what I heard in court was Mr Hyde Page's evidence rather than Mr Gowrie-Smith's. 

    Whilst this submission is most likely correct, I am able to reject Mr Gowrie-Smith's evidence without needing to reach a firm view on this issue." 

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