Steal Dossier

Peter Gleeson’s astonishing report: Court of comrades: Meet the ALP’s buddies on the bench.
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15 Responses to Steal Dossier

  1. C.L. says:

    Queensland Labor has routinely handed plum judicial postings – including several Supreme Court bench appointments – to legal figures with strong links to the party, including spouses and close friends of MPs.

    The Saturday Courier-Mail has obtained an explosive dossier compiled by a senior member of the legal fraternity which identifies at least 17 appointments to lucrative roles that have gone to people with enduring connections to the ALP.

    The revelations come after Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman recently made notorious former magistrate Bernadette Callaghan – who at times infuriated victims of crime groups during her 16-year career on the bench by handing out lenient sentences – head of a panel which plays a key role in the appointment of new magistrates.

    Ms Callaghan, who made headlines for her soft sentencing of criminals – including letting a thug who coward-punched a victim unconscious walk free without even a conviction – was a Labor Senate candidate, long-time member of the party’s Socialist Left and senior union figure.

    The state government has staunchly maintained it has a “robust policy” of using an independent panel to help make judicial appointments. While the Chief Justice of Queensland and one District Court judge said it would be expected that some judges would have had involvement with political parties as “private citizens”, that would discontinue if they were appointed to the bench.

    The dossier also cites the appointment late last year of barrister and Labor Party donor Kerri Mellifont QC to the Supreme Court bench and as Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal president.

    Ms Mellifont, the wife of state Labor MP Peter Russo, was secretly hired in 2018 to provide legal advice on controversial private emails involving Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

    Ms Mellifont, whose father was a Labor life member, donated $3700 to the party between 2017 and 2020, Electoral Commission of Queensland records show.

    The new chairperson of the Supreme Court appointments panel is former judge Ros Atkinson. Ms Fentiman was once her associate.

    The Courier-Mail is not suggesting the appointments were not based on merit.

    “It’s not just relatives and friends … it’s much more subtle and surreptitious than that,’’ a senior judicial source said.

    “You’ve got Labor law firms, partners, employees, former associates. It’s a labyrinth of associations.’’

    A magistrate earns $368,000 a year until retirement at age 70, when superannuation will be paid at 60 per cent of that salary, while Supreme Court judges are paid $433,012 a year and enjoy perks including a jurisprudence allowance of $35,008, with which they attend overseas legal conferences.

    Supreme Court and District Court judges, on retirement, get 60 per cent of their salary as a pension.

    The former Labor WA State Secretary of the Labor Party was made a magistrate in 2017 and is now a Children’s Court magistrate.

    Judicial sources have also raised the issue of Ms Fentiman last year appointing her aunt, Kerry Magee, already a magistrate, to a Children’s Magistrate role.

    In her maiden speech in 2015, Ms Fentiman paid tribute to “my Aunt Kerry, who was one of the first women to become a partner at a large Gold Coast law firm. She was my inspiration to study law.”

    Ms Fentiman also appointed Megan Power, sister-in-law of the sitting Logan Labor MP Linus Power, a magistrate in July, while Mr Power’s wife Jacqueline was in 2019 appointed Industrial Commissioner at the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

    Along with Ms Mellifont, several other appointments have strong connections to Mr Russo – a high-profile criminal lawyer before he entered politics.

    His former partner in law firm Russo Mahon, Megan Mahon, was announced as Legal Services Commissioner in 2019 by then attorney-general Yvette D’Ath.

    Two barristers thanked by Mr Russo in state parliament for helping in his 2015 campaign – Labor left activist Eoin Mac Giolla Ri and former Bar Association president Peter Davis – have since been elevated to judicial postings.

    Mr Mac Giolla Ri became a magistrate in June, while Mr Davis – who quit as Bar Association president a day after the Newman government appointed Tim Carmody chief justice – was appointed to the Supreme Court bench in 2017 and became President of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on May 8, 2020.

    Mr Russo thanked Mr Davis and his wife Belinda for “making sure that my volunteers on election day were fed and watered”, while he said Mr Mac Giolla Ri had gathered supporters to his campaign functions.

    Federal Labor MP Milton Dick’s close mate Julian Noud – the first friend he thanked in his maiden speech to parliament – was appointed a magistrate in January 2020.

    Mr Noud, who is well known to be active in Labor Party circles, formerly worked at Labor law firm, Sciaccas Lawyers.

    Louisa Pink, who was the Labor candidate for Moggill at the 2015 election, was appointed a magistrate in April 2016, and Mark Nolan, appointed a magistrate in 2017 and then to the Children’s Court last year, is a former WA Labor state secretary and was a director of the company commissioned to co-ordinate Labor’s 2012 Queensland election campaign.

    Gregory Lynham, who was appointed a District Court judge in April 2017 is the cousin of then-cabinet minister Anthony Lynham.

    The dossier lists appointments dating back 16 years including Fleur Kingham, who was made a District Court judge in 2006 by Linda Lavarch and then elevated to president of the Land Court during the first term of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government.

    Ms Kingham is a long-time Labor figure, whose husband David Barbagallo quit as Ms Palaszczuk’s chief of staff in 2019 amid a scandal over a $267,500 government grant to a company in which he was a shareholder and director.

    At the time Ms Palaszczuk insisted his departure had nothing to do with the scandal and Mr Barbagallo was ultimately cleared of corruption by the CCC but found to have failed to properly declare his interests.

    The legal appointments have also included both a close friend and one-time mentor of Ms Palaszczuk.

    Brian Kilmartin was appointed a magistrate by Labor’s then attorney-general Kerry Shine in December 2006, two months after Ms Palaszczuk, then a rookie MP, told state parliament he was “my mentor for admission as a solicitor”.

    Also in her maiden speech, Ms Palaszczuk said: “I wish to make a very special mention of my university friend Mark Bucknall.”

    Mr Bucknall was appointed a magistrate in 2011.

    Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman (right) said: “The Palaszczuk government introduced a robust policy for judicial appointments in 2016 to ensure every appointment is based on the recommendations of a panel of independent professionals from each arm of the legal profession. This ensures that all appointees are well respected and qualified members of the legal community, and each appointment is based on merit.’’

    Chief Justice of Queensland, the Honourable Catherine Holmes AC and District Court of Queensland Chief Judge Brian Devereaux SC, said: “We would expect that some judges, prior to their appointments, have had involvement with political parties on both sides of the political spectrum, as was their entitlement as private citizens. Once they are appointed to the bench, all such associations are discontinued and become irrelevant. We are quite confident that all the judges of our courts adhere to their Oath of Office, to administer equal justice to all and to discharge their responsibilities and duties according to law without fear or favour.’’

    Bar Association of Queensland president Tom Sullivan QC said: “The process of selection for judicial appointments includes a prescribed panel, who make recommendations to the Attorney-General.

    “The final decision on all appointments then ultimately sits with the government. The Association believes that the Protocol for Judicial Appointments in Queensland, and the methods by which information is fed into the processes underlying the Protocol, leads to merit-based and otherwise justified judicial appointments.’’

    The Law Society of Queensland did not respond to a request for comment.


    The Courier Mail

  2. Rohan says:

    Looks like QLD ALP learned well from Rob Hulls.

  3. Boambee John says:

    a high-profile criminal lawyer

    Surely the term “criminal lawyer” is a tautology?

    More seriously, it seems pretty clear that the ALP has long ceased to be a political party devoted to serving the interests of the urban and rural working classes. It has now become little more than a patronage machine, devoted to looking after “maaaaates” in the inner city, tertiary credentialed, upper middle class.

    Donate some cash, suck up to the correct (never right) power brokers, and a safe parliamentary seat or a judicial or senior bureaucratic appointment will leave the maaaates with comfortable taxpayer funded salaries and superannuation for life.

    Remember “He who must be Obeid”? His type seems to proliferate in the ALP. Sadly, they are also becoming more common in the Liberal and National Parties as well.

  4. Fred says:

    In Victoria the magistrate who denied bail to Monica Smit is a former ALP member. Luisa Bazzani. She was a member of young labour at uni with Bill Shorten, worked on Michael Danny’s campaign. Ran for preselection against Steve Bracks in Williamstown and was a member of the group Lawyers for Labor. She was then appointed to the bench by Rob Hulls.

    Unsurprising then that she wanted to silence a critic of Dan Andrews.

  5. Tel says:

    I grew up hearing glib sayings, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,”“Loyalty comes before ability.”

    The other one I would hear a lot, “Now don’t you go working too hard and make the rest of us look bad!”

    Many people ask what actually is the heart of Australian culture, and I’d say it’s two things: mateship, and a complete lack of work ethic. What’s happening in Queensland is as Australian as bacon and egg burgers with BBQ sauce.

  6. sfw says:

    Rob Hulls and Labor did this to the Vic judiciary and have reaped the benefits, I’m amazed that it’s taking the other Labor states so long do it too.

  7. Ivan Denisovich says:

    Looks like QLD ALP learned well from Rob Hulls

    Rob Hulls has a strong Queensland connection, having worked as a Solicitor and Alderman in Qld and then as a Qld Labor Member of Federal Parliament.

  8. Petros says:

    Hence the vitriol heaped onto Tim Carmody, chief justice under Campbell Newman.

  9. Ivan Denisovich says:

    She was then appointed to the bench by Rob Hulls.

    Look where Hulls ended up:

    Circle completed. #theleftslongmarchthroughtheinstitutions

  10. Fat Tony says:

    People starting to understand why there was no push-back by the legal fraternity against all this COVID nonsense over the last two years?

  11. Ivan Denisovich says:

    Rob Hulls and Labor did this to the Vic judiciary and have reaped the benefits,

    Loyalty over merit.

    BATTLE OF THE BIASES: Hulls v Debus, who is the Left’s fave?

    The Left’s favourite state Attorney-General Rob Hulls has not disappointed them again, appointing more judges who will appeal to their bias.

    Iain Ross, a former ACTU official and former ALP moderate, joins the Supremes after a time on the County Court bench. His time at the ACTU was excluded from the Hulls press release explaining the appointments.

    Supreme Court judge and occasional critic of both the DPP and the Herald Sun David Harper has been bumped upstairs to the Court of Appeal.

    While one bloke reputed to be earning well in excess of a million dollars a year at the Bar will take a big fat pay cut in the form of Dr Clyde Croft.

    Hulls’ defenders say his appointments have been solid and say that they compare favourably to some federal appointments. Lefty Bob Debus appointed his staffer Jacqueline Trad as a federal magistrate a record two months after she was admitted as a lawyer.

    Trad has been accused of lightly sentencing Cronulla rioters of Lebanese descent….

  12. MatrixTransform says:

    Fat Tony … I was shocked and stunned that anybody has even said it out loud.

    I’m hearing that down in Vik theyre even getting brand new lawyers to handle state prosecutions. Actually know this for fact first hand from a young idealist who is yet to be properly sworn in.

    plenty of career prospects all the way up, it seems

  13. Makka says:

    plenty of career prospects all the way up, it seems

    It’s not the march through the institutions. It’s the rape, pillage and plunder of the institutions.

  14. NoFixedAddress says:

    as long as they are global warming true believers

  15. Entropy says:

    Well, it’s different when they do it.

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