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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 676

Senator JESSOP —I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware of statements reported to have been made by the Australian Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice McClelland, in the Australian newspaper today in which he accused the British Prime Minister of, among other things, 'turning the miners union into another Belgrano', and also referred to Mrs Thatcher as 'that silly woman'? As this is not the first occasion on which Mr Justice McClelland has attacked the British Government, does the Australian Government consider it ethical and appropriate for an Australian judge to voice blatantly political and offensive opinions about a foreign government? What would be the reaction of the Australian Government and, probably, the whole Parliament, if a visiting British judge on a similar mission were to refer to our Prime Minister as a 'silly little dwarf', or even 'the short end of the ANZUS pact'? As Mr Justice McClelland has been in the United Kingdom with his staff at considerable expense to the Australian taxpayer and as his statements are not in the interests of good international relations, will the Government consider his immediate dismissal?

Senator BUTTON —I am asked whether I am aware of what Mr Justice McClelland is alleged to have said in the United Kingdom. I cannot say with any authority that I am aware of what the judge said. I read a report of some alleged remarks in the Australian newspaper this morning and, though it does not in any way suggest authenticity, I must say that they had a characteristic eloquence about them, which suggests that they may well have flowed from the judge, in one condition or another.

I am asked whether I regard the remarks as being ethical. I think that my answer to that question would be yes. I am asked whether the remarks, if authentic, would be appropriate. My answer would be 'probably not', but appropriateness is not always the most valuable criterion of human endeavour.

I am asked, thirdly, what the reaction of the Australian Parliament would be if a British judge in somewhat analagous set of circumstances made supposedly derogatory remarks about the Australian Prime Minister and/or others. That is a totally hypothetical question about which I can only guess. All I can say is that, if Senator Jessop is any example, I imagine that the reaction of the Australian Parliament would be incredibly pompous.