Calls for overhaul of Qld judicial appointment process amid Carmody controversy


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23-06-2014 12:38 PM


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Radio National


23-06-2014 12:38 PM



23-06-2014 01:40 PM

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2014-06-23 12:38:49

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HALL, Eleanor


Smail, Stephanie


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Calls for overhaul of Qld judicial appointment process amid Carmody controversy -

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ELEANOR HALL: A Queensland law expert is calling for an overhaul of that state's judicial appointment process, saying it is time to remove politics from the process.

The Newman Government's choice of Tim Carmody as Queensland's new chief justice has divided the legal community.

The Queensland Bar Association is the latest high profile legal group to call for Judge Carmody to stand down.

In Brisbane, Stephanie Smail reports.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: The Queensland Bar Association has been at the forefront of the battle over Tim Carmody's appointment.

The former president, Peter Davis, resigned the day after the new chief justice was announced, accusing the Attorney-General's office of leaking information during the appointment process.

But the association has stopped short from calling for Judge Carmody to step aside until now.

In a statement it says, "The way the decision has been promoted and defended has damaged the Supreme Court of Queensland and the public confidence in it."

The Bar Association says Judge Carmody should reconsider whether to take up the position of chief justice.

Senior law lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, Mark Lauchs, says the judicial appointment process is partly to blame for the controversy.

He says the Newman Government should consider an overhaul.

MARK LAUCHS: This is a, literally a medieval process. It comes from the time when the monarch made appointments because the executive was the king or the queen. And the king would make decisions based upon the advice of their advisers, but the advisers whilst having the right to provide advice could be ignored by the king.

So we have a replication of this here where the minister has to take the advice and consult with various people, like the profession and the leader of the Opposition, but they have no claim to say the minister must follow their advice.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Mark Lauchs says an expert panel should be appointed to advise the Queensland Attorney-General on judicial appointments.

He explains the panel would establish a shortlist of candidates for the State Government and ideally publish the reasons behind their choices.

MARK LAUCHS: Ideally we would be able to - as the public - see what the recommendations are but also the reduction in politicisation is that the minister would then have to choose from the shortlist rather than being have the power to depart from the shortlist.

The panel, being a wide representation of the people who are stakeholders in the process, would create the shortlist and being a representative panel we're assuming that politicisation is reduced, it's not going to be biased, and then the minister must choose from the shortlist.

So this question of we as the legal profession prefer these other people and you've chose someone else could not happen.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Mark Lauchs says an expert panel is already used for the Federal Court system in Australia and in Britain.

He says the panel would be appointed by the government of the day which could prompt questions.

But he argues there's a way around that.

MARK LAUCHS: When you appoint a panel like this what you normally do is you'd write into the legislation that creates a panel that bodies like the Bar Association would nominate their own member. So the government would say these organisations will have members and they will nominate a member, the government will always nominate some members themselves, but ultimately the bodies who are going to be represented would be making their own decisions as to who would be sitting on it.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Mark Lauchs from the Queensland University of Technology, ending that report from Stephanie Smail in Brisbane.