McLure firms
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Justinian in Carmel McLure, High Court, Nicola Roxon, Pamela tate, Polly Peck

Polly Peck sifts the probables and possibles to fill the forthcoming High Court vacancies ... After a series of batterings from the court, Labor could do with some friends at Gar's Mahal ... Notoriously difficult to find true believers these days ... Roxxy on a mission 

Carmel McLure - connections across the spectrum

COMMONWEALTH Attorney General Nicola Roxon has been running her ruler over candidates for the High Court, so expect a decision very shortly about who will replace Bill (Gumov) Gummow when he retires in October and Dyson Heydon early next year. 

Andrew Lynch from the Gilbert + Tobin Centre had an interesting piece about the appointment process but, in my humble opinion (based on too many years in the national capital), he over-emphasises issues of geography and the formal appointment process. 

Former attorney general Rob McClelland brought a veneer of rigour to the beauty parade when he created a consultation process.

It was soon apparent that law societies and bar associations are a pack of sheep and regurgitate lists of the bleeding obvious, rather than coming-up with some independent, creative thinking.  

However, Lynch is spot-on about the political considerations that are likely to be at the forefront of cabinet's mind when looking at the names coming out of the hat.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's antipathy to the court is well known in government circles, fed by the kyboshing of the Malaysian "solution" and the meddling with executive power in the school chaplains decision.

With friends in short supply everywhere, Labor badly needs some on the High Court. Even so, it's a notoriously hard thing to find a decent lawyer who will stay true. 

It won't stop cabinet trying, because that's all ministers can do at this stage - try.

The name most commonly mentioned in the context of ability and appeal is WA Court of Appeal president Carmel McLure.

She's one of Michael McHugh's "angels". Her partner, Karen Brown, is a Labor stalwart, lobbyist and candidate at the last state election. Carmel herself was private secretary to Peter Durack, the Fraser era attorney general. 

Victorian chief justice Marilyn Warren has dropped down the list of contenders, with the more likely woman from Victoria being Pamela Tate, whom Hulls appointed state solicitor general and then to Vic Appeals. 

Even for Roxon, appointing two women may be a step too far. An obvious alternative is Paddy Keane.

The fact Keane has not long taken up the reins as CJ of the Federal Court, and seems to doing rather well, may be excellent reasons to leave well enough alone.

Yet, his legal credentials are highly regarded in Queensland Labor circles. 

He was appointed by Wayne Goss as state solicitor general. Later he employed the former Premier's son as an associate.

When French and Bell were appointed to the court Wayne Swan made his view known that Keane should have been selected. 

Swan was keen on Keane

ANOTHER name on numerous lips is NSW Court of Appeal president, James Allsop - yet I feel his moment may have passed. 

 The balance has shifted to Victoria and the boondocks of WA. 

While names are being bandied about it would be foolish to ignore the lad from Sandy Hollow, Stephen Gagelar, and the Labor elders long term go-to man Bret Walker.

Gageler has to do time, unfairly, because the outcome of the Malaysia case has landed the government in a shocking amount of merde.

Walker could have had the slot vacated by Kirby, but his young family came first. 

Roxxy has said she wants to spread the net wider and look beyond the usual suspects. She may even be thinking of a legal academic.

George Williams, perhaps. 

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (
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