70 years ago, judges didn’t interfere in the affairs of Parliament

The designation ‘SC’ is completely appropriate and suited as a means of recognising and signalling excellence in a mature, independent legal profession in which the decisions of English courts have no superior status in terms of precedent than those of any other common law jurisdiction. Prior to the Queen’s death, this state last had KCs at a time when our society was not the richly diverse multicultural one it has become in the ensuing 70 years.”

– Last year, Chief Justice Bell himself wandered into orthodox luvvie editorialising
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14 Responses to 70 years ago, judges didn’t interfere in the affairs of Parliament

  1. C.L. says:

    Nationals MP Pat Conaghan says he will not “walk back” from comments opposing the Indigenous voice to parliament that prompted NSW Supreme Court judge Ian Harrison to label his views “disgusting”, and says he is “proud” of his speech to the lower house this week.

    NSW Chief Justice Andrew Bell scolded Justice Ian Harrison for sending a highly critical email to Mr Conaghan in which he described the federal MP’s opposition to the voice as racist.

    Chief Justice Bell issued a statement on Thursday criticising Justice Harrison’s behaviour, and urging judges to steer away from controversy.

    “It is generally prudent for judges to avoid making public statements on topics of political or public controversy,” he said.

    “Justice Harrison’s email to Mr Conaghan was not a public statement nor intended for public consumption.”

    In a rebuke of Justice Harrison’s comments — put to him in an email on Wednesday — Mr Conaghan stressed the importance of independence in the judiciary and respect in the voice debate.

    “In the constitution, there’s a section that talks about the separation of powers… between the judiciary, the parliament and also law enforcement. It’s been a long-held principle that separation of powers should be adhered to,” he told the House of Representatives.

    “I would not contemplate telling a police officer how to do his job, nor would I consider in any way criticising or telling a magistrate, judge or justice how to do his or her job, or criticise a decision made whether in sentencing or delivering judgement to a jury.

    “These principles are important. As is respect.”

    Mr Conaghan said the debate over the voice to parliament was “lacking respect”.

    “When those on the yes side criticise those who choose to say no, it simply demonstrates the reason why those who choose to say no will not stand up publicly because they are labeled racist, disgraceful or paternalistic,” he said.

    “I urge people on both sides to show respect to one another.

    “I will not walk back from my speech. I am proud of what I have said and I am proud moreso of what I have done in this place.”

    Mr Conaghan said he supported every member of his community and First Nations people, and fully backed a recognition of Indigenous Australians in the preamble.

    “This is not a question about if we should recognise them… this is about a voice to parliament. Let’s not conflate the two issues,” he said.

    The Australian on Thursday revealed Justice Harrison had sent the email to Mr Conaghan accusing him of racism because he opposed the voice.

    The extraordinary intervention bu Justice Harrison has raised concerns about the separation of powers between the judiciary and the workings of parliament.

    In the highly charged email sent to Nationals MP Pat Conaghan on Wednesday morning, Ian Harrison, a judge with the NSW Supreme Court, described the federal MP’s views as “disgusting”, paternalistic and racist.

    The email was sent in response to a speech to parliament Mr Conaghan had made on Tuesday night in which the member for Cowper had accused those attacking a ‘no’ vote on the basis it denied historical atrocities of being “recklessly dismissive” and would only encourage Australians to vote on emotion rather than logic.

    Mr Conaghan, a former solicitor and police officer, told The Australian last night he had contacted senior counsel in NSW after receiving the email. He said counsel had expressed concerns about the constitutional ramifications of the correspondence by a member of the judiciary.

    “I was astounded when I received it,” Mr Conaghan said.

    “Everyone is entitled to their point of view but I found it extraordinary and when I received it my mind immediately turned to the separation of powers under the same constitution.”

    The email by Justice Harrison, sent in his capacity as a judge, was dated May 24 at 8.54am.

    In his email to Mr Conaghan, Justice Harrison expressed ­“dismay” at the MP’s speech, ­describing it as the “the lowest ebb in my day”.

    “I appreciate that you are a member of Mr (David) Littleproud’s party, one of the first publicly to support the NO vote,” Justice Harrison wrote. “I despaired when he announced that decision, replete as it was with the perpetuation of institutional abuse of Australia’s First Nations people. You (sic) speech last night only increased my despair.

    “I am not one of your electors so my opinion on anything has no direct bearing upon you (sic) electoral status. However, I was moved while listening to you speak to write to you now to express my complete sadness, not that you have predictably taken the stand that you have, but that you obviously do not understand or appreciate the depths of paternalism and racism that oozed from your words.

    “Your argument is predicated upon the position that the Voice will add nothing practical to the lives of indigenous Australians.

    “We can argue about that forever, but I will not do so here. However, what is so subtly disgusting about your contention is that it promotes the counterfeit spectre of harm to the Australian community while ignoring the immense and patently harmless symbolic benefit that recognition of the Voice will give to a long-neglected section of our society.

    “There are no sleeping constitutional issues here. It is a simple matter of human decency. Your position, and the position of your party, is niggardly and cruel and mean-spirited. It is patently based upon a political stance that is indecent in its ignorance. May you live long enough, and acquire sufficient wisdom and self-awareness, to be ashamed of yourself.”

    The email was signed: “Regards, Ian Harrison”.

    Mr Conaghan is a member of the joint select committee for the voice to parliament, which was tasked with examining the government’s proposed wording of the referendum for a voice to parliament and executive government. It concluded that the constitutional alternation bill be passed without amendment, locking in support for the Albanese government’s proposed referendum question.

    There were two dissenting reports, one from the Nationals and one from the Liberal Party.

    Mr Conaghan on Tuesday night was one of a number of Coalition MPs to speak against the referendum bill. In his speech, he praised Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney for her ­“incredible initiatives” in indigenous-led health outcomes and other outcomes for indigenous Australians. His criticism of the bill was consistent with the Coalition position. “The beauty of our democracy is that we are able to respectfully differ in opinion when it comes to the methods in which our shared goals can be achieved” he said.

    “Enhancements and changes to programs and initiatives can be swiftly made without a referendum on constitutional change that divides a nation along the lines of race. Enhancements and changes can be made without the delay that waiting for a referendum requires. Enhancements and changes can be made without the cost of a referendum.

    “Positive steps can be taken without unintentionally encouraging Australians to have conversations that contain the words ‘us’ and ‘them’ in place of ‘one’ and ‘all’. “This bill conflates two entirely separate issues: firstly, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution – a point upon which we all agree and that does not have unforeseen consequences; and secondly, support for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body, a point that is a cause of concern for many.

    “These two distinct and separate issues have not been made clear to the Australian public throughout this inquiry and appear to have been designed with that intent.”


    Simon Benson, Ellie Dudley and Sarah Ison in The Australian

  2. Wally Dalí says:

    richly diverse multicultural
    Here we go again, a dripping turducken of cultural cringe and white guilt, trussed with the apron strings of its own mummy issues, genuflecting before the Exotic and Sinless Other and begging to have what’s left of its once-respected traditions stuffed up its own @rse.
    No, we are not multicultural. We are multiethnic, multiracial, sure, but monocultural, and that blind-justice, English-Common-Law thingo can be thanked for a peaceful politic, in contrast to the endless ethnic tensions, bloody coups and republican revolutions that smoulder everywhere else accross the globe.
    Or, at least we always have been peaceful and predictable, before the Australia Corporation was seized by these revisionist Quislings.

  3. C.L. says:

    “It is generally prudent for judges to avoid making public statements on topics of political or public controversy,” he said.

    “Justice Harrison’s email to Mr Conaghan was not a public statement nor intended for public consumption.”

    Nice bit of helpful bush lawyering there from the CJ.

    No, it wasn’t a public statement. It was arguably worse: a private attempt to intimidate a parliamentarian. Harrison should be sacked.

  4. Rabz says:

    Presumably the (not so) eminent jurist sent his email to the politician shortly before dashing off to (no, I won’t identify it CL, so as to spare you any potential legal dificulties).

    This is what happens when you have stupid gutless collectivist politicians in charge. Minimax and his clown show wouldn’t dare censure the eminent jurist, so expect more of this sanctimonious hypocritical and unprofessional idiocy.

    Untouchable, unelected, unaccountable scum.

  5. Buccaneer says:

    I wonder if Justice Harrison would be prepared to put all his current and future earnings and assets and those of all his heirs on the line as guarantee that his assertion that the voice is harmless, to compensate those taxpayers and citizens who when they vote for this amendment to the constitution, will very much be doing that without a government sinecure.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Everything has been captured by the Left, including the judiciary.
    The Fabian great plan has reached completion.
    That’s all folks, we’re done.
    Completely rooted.

  7. Petros says:

    So what happens to Ian Harrison now? Unethical doctors are suspended and then possibly deregistered. Is there a review of Harrison’s judgements to see if there is a pattern of bias?

  8. Fat Tony says:

    It is a simple matter of human decency. Your position, and the position of your party, is niggardly and cruel and mean-spirited.

    If he was on the wrong team, he’d be gone now for using the “n”word – like that poor schmuck some years ago overseas…

  9. Christine says:

    “richly diverse” : ad nauseam
    I wonder what these sanctimonious men were like as young boys.

    But a surprise in each man’s writings:
    the use of the word “niggardly” (Fat Tony reminds)
    “…telling a magistrate, judge or justice how to do his or her job…” – the Chief Justice evidently felt no need to use a modern “their job”.

    And Bruce of Newcastle may be right.
    We’re completely stuffed

  10. cuckoo says:

    The dripping condescension of that letter. As if his sole word should settle the matter beyond any doubt or discussion. Obviously some of the wig-wearers get their heads turned by the deference we show to judges.

  11. Morsie says:

    He will be lauded and promoted.Remember thanks to the Libs all the levers of government belong to Labor

  12. twostix says:

    So one of the SC judges is outed as a raving, emotional leftwing ideologue.

    When I say Elected Judges Now, midwitted people say “durrr but then you”ll get politicians”. What do you think you have now?

  13. Rockdoctor says:

    Sorry late to this party but wow and well done to Justice Bell’s rebuke.

    Again where is the Liberal/Nationals. Immediately a notice to front parliament for contempt should have been tabled even if it fails, Justices opinions on current affairs hold no more weight than an MP’s and approaching one should be treated as if one side had contacted the judges chambers on a matter he was presiding over. Totally inappropriate.

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