Tim Carmody’s promotion from Queensland’s chief magistrate to chief justice has been approved despite a chorus of opposition from the judiciary.
The Queensland government has pushed ahead with its controversial chief justice appointment despite vocal opposition from lawyers and the judiciary, including a Court of Appeal justice.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced on Thursday that Tim Carmody’s promotion from chief magistrate to chief justice had been approved by the state’s Governor in Council.
“Judge Carmody’s unique blend of skills and experience will give the Court the direction and drive to continue the great work of Chief Justice Paul de Jersey of meeting the challenges of a changing legal world,” Mr Bleijie said.
Mr Carmody will begin the role on July 8, replacing Mr de Jersey, who will become the state’s governor.
The confirmation comes after Court of Appeal Justice John Muir became the latest senior legal figure to attack Mr Bleijie’s decision, describing it as “a matter which has the potential to adversely affect the working of the Supreme Court”.
The former Supreme Court judge said Mr Carmody’s elevation could also “weaken public confidence in the administration of justice” and hinder the willingness of people to take matters to court.
Speaking at a North Queensland Bar Association dinner in Townsville on Wednesday night, Justice Muir said given the obvious lack of support for Mr Carmody’s promotion “the only appropriate course is for him to withdraw”.
His comments came after Queensland barrister Tony Morris QC wrote in a June 12 letter he wouldn’t attend a conference Mr Carmody would also be at.
“I feel quite incapable of representing the Bar Association with the level of civility owed to the holder of that high office,” he wrote in the leaked letter.
However, Mr Morris later tempered his comments by saying his personal dislike of Mr Carmody didn’t mean he thought he couldn’t perform as chief justice.
“At a personal level, he’s not someone I’ve got a lot of time for,” he told AAP.
“I did not comment on Judge Carmody’s suitability for his appointment, I didn’t describe him as a friend – I said he was capable of doing the job … and I have not changed on that position.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Bleijie, who has only spoken on the matter through written statements in recent days, needed to stop “hiding in the corner like some little school kid” and explain the methods used to appoint Mr Carmody.
She said Mr Bleijie’s position was untenable if he did not.
“Never before have we witnessed such scathing comments from a sitting judge of the Court of Appeal,” she said.
Retired Supreme Court justice Jim Thomas, former solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff QC and former Supreme Court judge Richard Chesterman QC have all slammed Mr Carmody’s appointment.
Peter Davis QC quit as head of the Queensland Bar Association last week after confidential discussions he had with Mr Bleijie’s former chief-of-staff, Ryan Haddrick, were leaked.
Deputy chief magistrate Ray Rinaudo will take Mr Carmody’s place as chief magistrate.