Susan Kiefel Appointed First Woman Chief Justice Of High Court; James Edelman Fills Vacancy

The Turnbull government has appointed Justice Susan Kiefel as the Chief Justice of the High Court.

KiefelKiefel was first appointed to the High Court in 2007 by the Howard government. She is the longest-serving member of the court and will become the 13th Chief Justice, the first woman Chief Justice and the fourth Chief Justice from Queensland. She will replace Chief Justice Robert French, who was appointed by the Rudd government in 2008.

Kiefel’s appointment means that all three arms – parliament, executive and judicial – of the Australian political system will now have been led by a woman.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis also announced that James Edelman will fill the vacant position on the court. Edelman, has been a judge of the Federal Court since 2015, after serving as a Justice of the Western Australian Supreme Court since 2011. He is a former Professor of Law at Oxford University.

Edelman is 42. He turns 43 on January 9. When he is sworn in on January 30, he will become the fourth youngest Justice of the Court, just behind Sir Owen Dixon, who was 42 years, 9 months and 7 days old when he was appointed in 1929. [Read more…]


Brandis Announces New Anti-Terror Laws; Control Orders To Apply To 14-Year-Olds; Indefinite Detention For Convicted Terrorists

The federal government will this week introduce legislation to extend anti-terrorist control orders to 14-year-olds and to provide for indefinite detention of high-risk offenders.

The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, announced the proposals at a media conference in Brisbane this morning.

Brandis

Control orders currently have a minimum age threshold of 16 years. The government plans to lower this to 14 years.

It also plans to introduce a uniform nationwide regime of post-sentence detention for high-risk offenders who remain unreformed after completing their sentence. Brandis said the proposal provides for the Attorney-General to apply to a state Supreme Court for a post-sentence order. Such an order could include an indefinite period of detention. [Read more…]


Abbott Kills 18C Repeal; New Counter-Terrorism Measures To Cost $630m Over Four Years

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has abandoned government plans to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Abbott-Brandis-Bishop

Section 18c makes it an offence to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group on the basis of their race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. [Read more…]


Julie Bishop Treads Carefully In Reaction To Jailing Of Australian Journalist Peter Greste

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, says the Australian government is shocked by the 7-year jail sentence imposed on the Australian journalist, Peter Greste, in Egypt today.

Bishop

Greste is one of three of Qatar-based Al Jazeera journalists who have been held in prison in Egypt for over six months. They were charged with endangering national security, aiding terrorists, doctoring footage, operating without a licence, and “spreading false news”. They were specifically charged with aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, a blacklisted organisation. [Read more…]


Victory For James Ashby As Federal Court Overturns Peter Slipper Harassment Decision

The Full Bench of the Federal Court has overturned the 2012 decision by Justice Rares in the Peter Slipper sexual harassment case.

In upholding the appeal by James Ashby, the full bench, consisting of Justices John Mansfield and John Gilmour, said:

“We are satisfied that the evidence before the primary judge did not warrant the adverse finding said to constitute an abuse of the court’s process on the two bases found and did not warrant the rejection by his Honour of the sworn and unchallenged evidence of each of [James] Ashby and [Michael] Harmer.”

Ashby was awarded costs. This represents a severe financial imposition on Slipper.

The court rejected an appeal by solicitor Michael Harmer, who was criticised by Justice Rares over his conduct of the case, but also said:

“Nonetheless, we have concluded that the adverse findings in relation to his conduct, with their flow on affect upon Ashby, ought not to have been made.”

The decision means that Slipper is now likely to face trial on the sexual harassment claims. The abuse of process decision of Justice Rares has been overturned. [Read more…]


Statement From Nauru Justice Department On Sacking Of Magistrate

This is the media statement from the Nauru Department of Justice on the sacking and deportation of Peter Law, the Resident Magistrate and Registrar of the Supreme Court.

The statement alleges inappropriate behaviour, drunk and disorderly behaviour, interference in cases and dereliction of duty.

Law was sacked and deported from Nauru yesterday. He was due to hear a case involving asylum seekers charged over riots at the Australian detention centre in July last year. He has indicated he will sue the Nauru government over the allegations contained in the media release.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also banned Geoffrey Eames, the Australian-based Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Eames attempted to prevent the deportation of Law, only to have his own visa cancelled. [Read more…]


Derryn Hinch Fined $100,000 For Contempt Of Court

Derryn Hinch, a former Melbourne radio broadcaster, has been fined $100,000 for contempt of court.

Hinch was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria by Justice Stephen Kaye. The contempt related to comments Hinch made on his website about the Jill Meagher murder case.

Hinch

In the decision, Justice Kaye referred to Hinch’s previous convictions for contempt of court: “You have a number of previous convictions for contempt of court, and for associated offences, which are relevant to the determination of your disposition in this case. In particular, you have three previous convictions for breaches of s4 of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958, namely, for publishing material that was likely to lead to the identification of a victim of a sexual offence. In addition, in 1986, you were convicted by this Court of two charges of contempt of court. The charges in that case concerned three radio broadcasts relating to charges of sexual offences committed by a priest. In those broadcasts, you referred to the priest’s previous convictions, and you accused him of committing further offences while he was on bail.” [Read more…]