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    "It appears that, of the very large number of motions on which my office's views are routinely sought, this one was not escalated to me because it was interpreted in my office as a motion opposing racism. The associations of the language were not picked up. Had it been raised directly with me those issues would have been identified."  

    Attorney General Christian Porter after tweeting that the Senate motion, "It's OK to be white", confirms that the "government deplores racism". October 16, 2018 ... Read more flatulence ... 


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    The Chaser's Julian Morrow gets serious on Justinian's Couch ... An escapee from the law who came into our lives as a comedian and satirist ... The joys of employment law could not hold him ... Now the master of ceremonies at Continuing Professional Development Under the Influence ... Read more ... 


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    Capital offences ... Fabulous Phil Ruddock works his magic on the family law amendments ... The next Lord Haw Haw is probably lurking in the ranks of the press gallery ... Bunter Downer lays the ground for a few more executions of Australians by our friendly neighbours ... Polly Peck reports ... From Justinian's archive, December 12, 2005 ... Read more ... 


     

    « Brandis' secret scheme to stop the presses | Main | America's legal prostitution problem »
    Wednesday
    Dec042013

    Wayne's world

    Another barney between the WA parliament and Chief Justice Wayne Martin ... Myer chairman and the Tory campaign to knock the Human Rights Commission off its perch ... Procrustes takes us on a spirited journey and brings us full circle back to Wayne Martin and s.18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 

    Wayne Martin - deftly placed barbs

    WE don't get to hear much about the West, sitting in splendid and apparently mineral soaked isolation, so far away.

    However, closer examination reveals a rich legal tapestry, in which a principal weaver is the Chief Justice, Wayne Martin.

    Here we have a dab hand at the judicial bon mot and the deftly placed barb.

    Try a reading of his farewell to Justice Christine Wheeler in February 2010, with his predecessor D.K. (Porkie) Malcolm and the recently retired President of the WA Court of Appeal, Chris Steytler, both present.

    Noting the unremitting work of the Court of Appeal, Wayne remarked on the "direction of Ubersturmfuhrer [sic] Steytler", which you might think pretty rich addressed to a refugee from apartheid South Africa.

    On a roll, Wayne then turned to the much improved batting average in the CA (as revealed in the acceptance of fewer High Court special leave applications) after 2005, when Wheeler sat as an inaugural member, compared with appeals from the period prior.

    Since the Porkissimus (he disliked the nickname Porkie, so the WA Bar re-named him) was in charge until early 2006, we were left to infer responsibility for the earlier poor performance.

    Porkie Malcolm was given no right of reply.

    More recently, Wayne has found himself embroiled in a punch-up with the State government over his alteration of the Supreme Court Rules, for the purpose of providing a power in the court to order bureaucrats to present reasons for their decisions in judicial review cases. 

    This led to a brawl with the government as to whether Wayne could effect a "legislative" [and drastic] change in the law in this manner.

    The CJ, of course, argued that the change was not of substantive law, but was merely procedural.

    A parliamentary committee thought otherwise and asked the Solicitor General, Grant Donaldson for an opinion. 

    Grant sided with the committee. The October report of the Joint Standing Committee sets out the correspondence from Wayne and Grant (and an unbiased observer could hardly fail to notice the alpha male relationship between these two) and leaves the impression that parliament will move to disallow the Chief Justice's bright idea.

    Stay tuned. It's not every day that a parliament gets to disallow rules of court.

    Santa's Little Helpers

    B.A. Santamaria: influences conservative hacks to search for a war front

    AT least Wayne comes with a minimum of political baggage, apart from his own delusions as to an ability to make WA bureaucrats provide reasons for their actions, in defiance of the common law and the WA Parliament. 

    Reading The Australian's commentators, Greg Sheridan and Dennis Shanahan, as they cheer Prime Minister Abbott on to ever more startling feats, one is reminded that all three of the protagonists were disciples of the late Bob Santa Maria, Sheridan as a direct acolyte.

    Very elderly Manichean concepts are being pedalled by these people, all trained by Bob to look for a war front where they can draw an ideological line.

    With the end of the Cold War, they've generally been at a loose end, but cheering for a Coalition government is the next best thing. And of course with cheering, comes influence.

    From the same influential stable comes the Myers Chairman, Paul McClintock, son of Sir Eric McClintock, the chairman of Woollies from 1980 until in 1986, for the first time in 63 years no final dividend was recommended or paid on the grocer's shares, and Sir Eric retired in 1987 as Ron Brierley devoured the shop.

    Son Paul is a good product of Riverview, the Jesuit college in Sydney (class of 1967), and Arts and Law at Sydney University. 

    He whiled away his time at uni turning back the red menace and preaching the virtues of the Vietnam War, using the University Liberal Club as his bully pulpit, and keeping close to Black Jack Carrick, the Secretary of the NSW Liberal Party who gave us (of an older generation) Premier (Robber) Askin.

    Needless to say McClintock was insulated from the draft that took over 300 young Australians to be killed in Vietnam, as he was a member of the University Regiment i.e. the reserve. 

    Life after university consisted of Freehills, the then leading Catholic firm (your correspondent feels so old noting this sort of sectarian language from 40 years ago), and then into suitable jobs in Canberra, including a stint as John Howard's chef de cabinet in the early years of this century, before landing some choice company directorships.

    McClintock: sought to crush the Disability Commissioner for having the temerity to campaign against Myer

    With his lifetime's conservative political connections at hand, it can be safely assumed that McClintock has some influence, which is particularly important in connection to his present position as chairman of Myer. 

    All of which goes to reading between the lines of the article in The Weekend Australian, November 16-17, How Myer chair took down the twitterati

    McClintock came to the rescue of the hapless Myer CEO, Bernie Brookes, after he uttered his now "infamous" (the word used by The Oz) comment that the funding of the National Disability Care Scheme would take money from customers who would then have less to spend at Myer.

    It was the Disability Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, Graeme Innes, who commented publicly in opposition to Brookes' sentiments resulting in a petition on social media to persuade the department store to have a quota of 10 percent of its workforce reserved for disabled people.

    All of which led to a tide of antagonism directed at the Myer CEO. 

    Enter Paul as white knight to the rescue and quite right too.

    Here was a blind man, Innes, having a go at a captain of industry. Who did he think he was?

    Faced with such an opponent, obviously you shoot his guide dog and take away his white stick.

    The story in The Oz referred to "an extraordinary outburst from McClintock, as he took Innes to task publicly and called for a major review of the workings of the Australian Human Rights Commission". 

    The Myer chairman generally seems to want the Human Rights Commission put on a short leash and is in a position to get what he wants. 

    First up, the Coalition has dutifully announced that the Racial Discrimination Act is to curtailed, much to the joy of the banner wavers for Andrew Bolt, plus we'll see the appointment of new "freedom commissioners".  

    Which brings us full circle, as the first major test of s.18C was against Western Australian Newspapers in the Full Federal Court in 2004, with the then Wayne Martin QC as counsel for The West Australian.

    Wayne triumphed in this contest as to whether a cartoon was racially derogatory, with the leading judgment exonerating the newspaper from Bob French, then still short of the High Court, with a determined dissent from Malcolm Lee. 

    Wayne never tired of telling the story that Graeme Innes, the commissioner who originally determined that the cartoon was offensive under s18C, was blind.

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