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Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Page: 27

Senator MURRAY (11:24 AM) —Minister, you are quite right in your response. I am not suggesting that the government should consider interfering with very strong tax precedent that you leave the affairs of an individual as a matter between the tax office and that individual. But my concern is twofold. Firstly, we now have this in the public arena, and therefore it hangs there as a smell about all judges. I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of judges will be doing the right thing. It just adds to the community issue about people in high places who are bad examples. Secondly, the minister would know, as I do from my general reading, that if you look at parliaments around the world of our type and tradition, you will see that the removal of judges has not always related to criminal offences or even charges. It has related to conduct and improper behaviour as well. The parliament would always consider that in these matters.

I am not rushing to judgment here, but I urge the minister—and perhaps the proper person is the Attorney-General—to draw these matters to the attention of the chief justices, if he is able to do so, because I think it is an internal disciplinary function. I would hate to see in next year’s report from the tax office that this is still an issue with the judiciary. I do not think we can just let it slide by and say that it is a matter between the tax office and the judges, because it is now in the public arena. That is my point in raising it.