A senior barrister who publicly criticised Queensland’s sex offender laws can’t blame politicians for losing government work, the premier says.
Politics had nothing to do with stripping government work from a senior barrister who publicly criticised Queensland’s sex offender laws, the premier says.
Campbell Newman says neither he, nor any other politician, had anything to do with barrister Stephen Keim SC from being stripped of a brief to represent the government in an administrative law matter.
“There’s been no involvement by myself, the A-G (Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie) or any other politician,” he told reporters.
“What people need to know is the accusation of political involvement is untrue.”
But the Opposition is calling for an independent judicial inquiry to determine if the attorney-general ordered his director-general or solicitor-general to withdraw the work.
“This is political interference,” Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“This is going back to the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen days and is becoming a national embarrassment.”
Mr Keim was asked late last year to represent the Crown in an administrative law matter involving a Brisbane pub.
Bureaucrats later told him the Justice Department’s director-general, John Sosso, hadn’t approved him for the job, the ABC has reported.
Between receiving files for the matter and being stripped of the brief, Mr Keim appeared on ABC’s PM program criticising the government’s policies intended to keep sex offenders behind bars even if judges ordered they be freed.
The government had “turned upside down” the usual principles of the administration of justice, he told the program.
Australian Lawyers Alliance state president Michelle James says it’s unusual that the head of a department had interfered with a decision that had already been made.
” … then of course there is the danger that that (political) inference could be drawn,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
When asked whether he would have a problem with Mr Keim receiving future work from the government, Mr Newman said: “I have no problem whatsoever”.
Mr Keim will deliver his first public speech since being stripped of the brief when he addresses the Australian Lawyers Alliance conference on the Gold Coast on Friday.