Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s move to make peace with judges is being viewed with suspicion by a Bjelke-Petersen era corruption fighter.
The Queensland premier’s peace offering to judges has been slammed as insincere by the man who uncovered widespread corruption in the sunshine state during the 1980s.
A day after Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie met the heads of the Supreme, District and Magistrates courts, Bjelke-Petersen-era corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald described it as a “staged reconciliation” and “politically-motivated expressions of regret”.
“For the moment, at least, it’s transparently clear that the government doesn’t really regret its actions or intend to change its behaviour,” he said.
The meetings with senior judges, Bar Association of Queensland and Law Society took place on Thursday – nine months after Mr Newman called on critics of his government’s now invalid sex offender laws to “come out of your ivory towers”.
On Friday, Treasurer Tim Nicholls, a former solicitor, suggested judges had a duty to help the government tackle gang and drug-related crime.
“We’ve obviously got the respect for the judiciary, for the job they do,” he told reporters.
“Their role, of course, is helping us to do some of the things that we’re doing.”
Next week, Mr Newman and his attorney-general are planning to meet with Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.
But right-to-information documents show a draft letter to her from Mr Bleijie, in 2012, flagging changes to drug trafficking laws, were marked “Do Not Send”.
The swearing in this month of Chief Justice Tim Carmody is continuing to stir controversy.
He had never previously served on the Supreme Court bench and was only appointed as chief magistrate in September last year.
“Unless the government offers a credible explanation, speculation about Carmody’s relationships and the reasons for his appointment as chief justice … will raise doubts about judicial independence, which will blight Queensland’s legal system for years to come,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
The Liberal National Party’s thrashing at last weekend’s Stafford by-election has seen the government engage in a series of policy reversals.
It has restored the requirement for the chair of the Crime and Corruption Commission to have bipartisan support and spared convicted bikies from wearing pink overalls in jail.
But Mr Fitzgerald said its failure to undo the lifting of political donation disclosures, from $1000 to $12,400, showed it had failed to correct its “most egregious mistakes”.
A spokesman for the premier declined to address Mr Fitzgerald’s assertions directly.