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…]


Terror Alert Raised To High; Abbott Says No Imminent Threats But People With Intent And Capability Are Here

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that the government has raised the terrorism alert level from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.

Abbott

Abbott said there are no imminent threats but that “there are people with the intent and capability to mount attacks here in Australia”.

Speaking at a press conference with the Director-General of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), David Irvine, and the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Policy (AFP), Andrew Colvin, Abbott said members of the public should not notice anything in their daily lives but that security would be stepped up at government buildings, defence facilities and major public events. [Read more…]


Royal Commission Says Home Insulation Program Was Poorly Planned And Poorly Implemented

The report of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (HIP) says the scheme was poorly planned and poorly implemented.

The report by Ian Hanger, released today, says the causes of the problems were “multifactorial” and “it is not possible to isolate one error or failure”.

HIP

The report concludes that there were “seven significant failings in the design and implementation of HIP”. These included:

  • Conflict or tension between the two aims of the program to insulate 2.2 million homes and to stimulate the economy.
  • The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts was ill-equipped to deal with the size and complexity of the HIP.
  • A failure by the Australian Government, until very late in the HIP, to identify and manage the risk to installers of injury and death.
  • Permitting a produce to be used under the HIP that was manifestly unsuitable and dangerous.
  • A decision to relax training and competency requirements for insulation training.
  • A robust audit and compliance regime was not operational until after the first fatality.
  • The Australian Government’s reliance on the States, Territories and employers to regulate, monitor, police and enforce occupational health and safety arrangements.

The report says the Home Insulation Program not only had an effect on the families of the young men killed: “It also wreaked havoc on pre-existing insulation installation businesses, particularly when the HIP was suspended on 19 February 2010, essentially without warning.” [Read more…]


Shorten Says Brandis Has Been Humiliated By Cabinet Over 18C Repeal

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, says the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis has been humiliated by the Abbott government’s backdown on the repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Shorten

The backdown was announced this afternoon, together with a batch of new anti-terrorism measures. [Read more…]


Dealing With Craig Thomson: An Impressive MPI Debate

An impressive Matter of Public Importance debate took place in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The MPI was devoted to the issue of how the House should treat Craig Thomson, the member for Dobell, in the light of allegations against him and his statement to the House yesterday.

Debate revolved around the nature of a censure and the arguments for and against suspending Thomson from the service of the House. [Read more…]