“Some Time” Before Decision on Secret Lionel Murphy Records

After a thirty year wait, historians, lawyers, journalists and the general public will have to wait “some time” more before knowing whether they can have access to allegations put before a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in 1986 into the conduct of former High Court justice, Lionel Murphy.

By the time it was wound up in September 1986, the Inquiry had distinguished at least fourteen separate allegations against Murphy.

With only the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives permitted to have access to this material until now, they have authorised the Clerks of their respective chambers to see the material so they can provide advice.

The conditions imposed by statute in 1986 mean that even the Clerks have to wait until the 30 year secrecy provisions expire on Sunday before getting access. Continue reading ““Some Time” Before Decision on Secret Lionel Murphy Records”

Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege

The Parliamentary Privilege questions enlivened by the series of raids on Senator Stephen Conroy’s office, the home of an adviser and the server maintained by the Department of Parliamentary Services, arising from the Australian Federal Police’s investigation into the leak of NBN documents brings to a head a series of questions raised across a number of legislatures in Australia, the UK and the US in the past twenty years.

On the matter being raised in the Senate yesterday, a background paper from the Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing was tabled. It indicates that she is not satisfied with the processes used by the Senate until now to deal with disputes over privilege between Senators and law enforcement. Continue reading “Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege”

Dyson Heydon, His “Greatest Teacher” and the Question of Bias

Later today, Dyson Heydon will rule on whether he should recuse himself as Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. The application on behalf of the ACTU, and several unions who are parties before the Royal Commission, rests on Heydon’s decision to accept an invitation to give the Sir Garfield Barwick address to a legal policy branch of the NSW Liberal Party. The argument is that in accepting the invitation to give the address, and not withdrawing when he was positively alerted to its association with the Liberal Party until such time as the event attracted media attention, could give rise to apprehended bias in his conduct of the Royal Commission. Continue reading “Dyson Heydon, His “Greatest Teacher” and the Question of Bias”

NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)

In May 2014, in response to the mounting revelations at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of breaches and circumvention of NSW’s electoral disclosure laws, particularly in respect of donations by prohibited donors, Premier Mike Baird announced a Panel of Experts to review the system of political donations. Continue reading “NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)”

Ombudsman Flags Criminal Prosecutions from Police Internal Affairs Probe

The NSW Ombudsman has foreshadowed criminal prosecutions arising from its probe of the decade long controversy over an internal police investigation conducted by the NSW Police Special Crimes and Internal Affairs unit, the NSW Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission.

In legislation rushed through Parliament in a matter of hours last month, the Ombudsman secured the unprecedented authority to give evidence and produce documents in criminal proceedings arising from its Operation Prospect, overturning a four decades long bar on the Ombudsman and his officers giving evidence in such proceedings. Continue reading “Ombudsman Flags Criminal Prosecutions from Police Internal Affairs Probe”

The Einfeld Audits: Making Dead Drivers Tell Tales

I thought you said you were a good driver!”  No no, I never said I was a good driver. I said I was a good parker.” (Jerry and George, “The Parking Spot” episode of Seinfeld)

You don’t understand. A garage… I can’t even pull in there. It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?” (George)

When former Nationals MP and Parliamentary Secretary, Steve Cansdell had to resign last week over a false statutory declaration to keep his drivers’ licence, the ready comparison was made with the fate of former Supreme Court Judge and Human Rights Commissioner, Marcus Einfeld. Continue reading “The Einfeld Audits: Making Dead Drivers Tell Tales”

Crime Commission: Last Bout for the Crime Fighter?

Are we about to witness the end of the fast times and heady days of the NSW Crime Commission? Is its “can do” culture going to be tagged as “should not”? Next week, it will take on perhaps its greatest threat in its 25 years of operation: itself.

When the two AFP officers crossed the underground car park on 2 June 2008 to apprehend Mark Standen, the Crime Commission’s head of investigations, they surely could not have fully appreciated what the arrest would unleash. Continue reading “Crime Commission: Last Bout for the Crime Fighter?”