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Brandis must GO!

By Ross Hamilton

The Attorney General is the nation’s first law officer. That makes her or him our highest law officer in the nation. So it is not unreasonable to expect our Federal Attorney General to be a paragon of legal virtue. However our Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, is anything but.

There are plenty of matters which call the integrity of Brandis into question. For example there is the ongoing matter of just what his knowledge of and involvement in the Bell Resources liquidation in WA has been. However a seemingly much smaller matter shows just how disgraceful and unsuited to any form of legal office George Brandis actually is.

Back in 2014, one of the hot issues was looking at fallout from the first  Budget of the Abbott government. One cutback was removing funding from community legal centres. The Labor Opposition, specifically the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, started looking into that decision. Dreyfuss lodged a Freedom of Information request for access to parts of the Brandis diary, concerned about just who Brandis had been meeting with in the lead-up to that budgetary decision.

Brandis refused to process the request. Note that this was not a refusal to provide the requested information but refusing to even process the request. The justification was that processing the request would take too long and also had some sort of security concerns.

Dreyfuss took the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The AAT had no problems finding that Brandis did indeed have to process the request – not necessarily handing over the requested doco, but simply process the request in the proper, formal manner. The Tribunal’s finding was that there was no practical reason for refusing to process the request and therefore Brandis’ staff had to examine the request and commence processing.

Brandis took the matter to court, appealing to the Federal Court. Last September, the Full Court of the Federal Court threw out the Brandis objection, finding that he and his staff did indeed have to properly consider the FOI request. And again, this was not a direction to hand over the requested documentation, just to properly consider the request for it. A sense of just what the members of the Court really felt about the matter is perhaps reflected in how quick they were to make Brandis pay all costs.

To help place this in context, is it really that big a deal to make the diary available? And the answer is ‘No’. For example, Julia Gillard routinely published her diary contents. When a journalist requested access to the diary of Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, the Minister had no problems in publishing her diary. But Brandis refuses to even properly process a request for access to his diary’s contents.

It is now some six months since the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, directed the Attorney General, Senator George Brandis QC, to properly  consider the request. And HE STILL HASN’T DONE IT.

The Attorney General is NOT above the law. The Attorney General does NOT get to pick and choose what court directions he will abide by. What makes this matter even more ludicrous is that Brandis is not just any old mug playing games. Brandis was a lawyer before entering the Senate. Not any old lawyer, Brandis was, and still is, a Queens Counsel.

Shadow Attorney Dreyfuss now has to go back to the courts, yet again, to ask the courts to put a final date by which Brandis should have processed the request. And in so doing, the Dreyfuss team is pushing for Brandis to be found in contempt of court. And that is exactly what Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, is – he has shown utter contempt for the law of our nation, deeming himself to be beyond it.

Enough is enough. There are three acceptable actions that must be taken:

  1. Brandis must be found in contempt of court and face all consequences including all legal penalties and parliamentary sanctions;
  2. Brandis must be made personally accountable for ALL costs, not passing them back on the taxpayer;
  3. Prime Minister Turnbull must immediately dismiss Brandis from all offices as someone who acts in this manner is not fit to even be in parliament, let alone holding such senior offices as Attorney General.

If you agree with me, then I strongly encourage you to contact the Prime Minister and demand the immediate sacking of Brandis. You may also wish to sign and distribute my petition calling for the Prime Minister to immediately remove Senator Brandis from the office of Attorney General.

This article was originally published on Ross’s Rant.

 

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36 comments

  1. babyjewels10

    Agreed. He’s thumbing his nose at the courts and at the Australian people. He thinks he’s a law unto himself. He has no respect. He holds us in contempt. Not the qualities of the first lawman of the land. But isn’t that the very attitude of the LNP? Not one of them likes us. They are laughing at us. They would squash us like a bug if they could, while they puff on their cigars with their mates.

  2. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Ross. Signed and shared.

  3. Halfbreeder

    If Brandis is in contempt he would not only need to be removed from the position of attorney general, but should not sit in parliament and should have his status as QC stripped from him. Lodge a complaint with the Queensland Legal Services Commission or Bar Association. The principle of the rule of law does not only mean that the citizens are subject to the law but also the government. This is typical of the LNP who think they are privilledged in being exempt from anything they chose to be exempt from and empowered to do anything they want to everyone else. They are a bunch of crooks and fascists.

  4. Terry2

    Brandis holds us in contempt and will probably spin this out until he goes to London to represent us.

    If Turnbull actually gives Brandis this London sinecure – I needed to check that I had the right word and I did, how very appropriate – it will be Turnbull who will be seen as unprincipled, we already know that Brandis is.

    Sinecure : a position for which the holder is paid but which involves little or no work.

  5. Michael Taylor

    I don’t see why he has to go. He’s such a fine custodian of moral virtue. A great role model for others to follow.

  6. wam

    Labor is quietly missing the point of ‘who remembers what the point is’

    The quote from a spokesman: Attorney-General “will carefully study the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia and its implications for government”.
    Surely that satisfies the court order?

    Sorry, ross, the normal lawyer’s obfuscation is legal and we all know about the rich waiting till the costs are so high ordinary people run out of money and lose so drefus can whinge all he like but unless he incites us and the morning shows get excited yawn yawn yawn..

  7. 1petermcc

    I can’t think of any instance where Brandis has shown any respect for the Senate (and the Voters). If you want to see the height of arrogance, check out his behaviour in the Senate when he was asked about our exit strategy when sending our kids to bomb Syria.

    I’m not a Greens voter, but the questions they asked were serious ones and deserved a serious answer. All we saw was bullying and personal attacks with not even a pretence of addressing the questions. I don’t remember any reaction by MSM at the time but there bloody well should have been.

  8. Harquebus

    That’s not funny Michael.
    Cheers.

  9. helvityni

    Is it any wonder that Barry Humphreys invented Les Patterson to represent us (them) in London, our (their) representatives these days are no better, they just wear better suits….

  10. Ella Miller

    Love it Michael,
    when I told a porky to my dear dad he said to me ” Ella it is easier to catch a liar than a dog with three legs”
    How true it is.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Yes it was, H’. It was brilliant. 😜

  12. Matters Not

    Never mind the legal failures, that pales into insignificance when compared with his political ineptitude. Brandis is the Government Leader in the Senate. He is the one who bears responsibility for negotiating contentious legislation through the political minefield. Yet the word is that he never deigns to talk to the cross bench – which is fine by them because they hate him anyway. In baseball terms, he is batting zero. In cricketing terms, he continues to rack up nothing but golden ducks.

    As I understand it, a diplomatic appointment might not be possible (can’t diplomatically reward all the government failures – not enough Embassies) so a legal alternative is under consideration. Don’t be surprised if Brandis is appointed Chief Magistrate of Betoota and surrounds. Only last week, Malcolm was observed discussing that possibility with the power players of Betoota. There’s acres of space for his library as well.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betoota,_Queensland

  13. James O'Neill

    While he was a practising barrister Brandis applied for silk and the Qld Bar Assn turned him down. He then left the Bar to enter politics. Six years later the then Chief Justice Paul de Jersey made him a silk, despite the fact he was not on the list sent by the Bar Association for approval by the CJ. He had also not practised for six years by that point. One of the fundamental requirements of being a QC is to have a substantial and continuing practice, and to be very good at it. Brandis met neither of those qualifications. Some very serious questions need to be addressed to de Jersey, now the State’s Governor.
    For what it is worth, I agree with Ross. Brandis is a disgrace and should be held in contempt of court.

  14. helvityni

    What about becoming a JP, one of those people sitting Saturday mornings at shopping malls, to clarify one’s signature; you can also find them at a post office, some chemist shops etc…

  15. Andrew Thaler

    At a minimum, a personal fine for ‘contempt of court’ is at least $50,000.
    How do I know this…? personal experience.
    So imo, Brandis must be fined, personally, at least 50k.. but bearing in mind that he is the AG then that figure should be 10 times bigger.
    and a daily fine until compliance…

  16. Kronomex

    Mal Feasance won’t get rid of the balding coconut because he was part of the mob that did the Mad Monk in and as we all know Turncoat is still there only under their sufferance. Ah Gag Brandis wants the Depressants (Downer) job of High Commissioner in not-so-merry Britain. Like the bulk of the federal LNP he only cares about what he wants and keeping his snout in the trough.

  17. jimhaz

    “Mr Abbott’s office not only refused to process FOI requests for his diary but also resisted providing the documents to FOI officers in his department” (The Australian)

    Abbott seemed to get away with it – so it is a case of follow the leader’s democratic abuses.

    With Brandis, I’d say he’d have too many “meetings” booked in with young male prostitutes.
    (no slander danger with that comment as he’d have to allow his diary to be made public, which appears to be a no no).

  18. Christian Marx

    This loathsome IPA stooge must face the harshest penalties available.
    He is not fit to lick the boots of Fidel Castro!

  19. helvityni

    Why are we awarding our poorly performing politicians with well-paid jobs overseas ? Do other countries have this weird custom ?

  20. Lance

    Ya can’t insult a bludger -not even the Federal Court of Australia -can insult this bludger

  21. Wayne Turner

    Corrupt Brand Arse.

  22. Jaquix

    Good on Dreyfuss for not letting up on Brandis. The 3 points the author lists at the end, covers the correct actions which should be taking place, but of course Turnbull is so weak he cant/wont act (on anything, pretty much). As a lawyer he should know how disgraceful Brandis is, and at the very least replace him with someone with some integrity, however difficult that might be.

  23. roma guerin

    Agree with all of the above. Please sign Ross’ petition and share it widely.

  24. Johno

    Signed, sealed and delivered.

  25. brickbob

    Have signed petition, and i remember Doug Cameron outed old George in the Senate early last year, as it appears George belongs to some men only club who spend the whole or part of their night making grunting noises at each other and bumping their chests up against one another,and no, i am not making this up as it is in Hansard.

    Anybody who thinks that Brandis will be brought before a court,Federal or otherwise are naive at best, as their is too much corruption in our Judicial government and law enforcement agencies.
    George will end up in London and will gorge himself unapolegetically from the tax payer trough,swilling and consuming as much unfetted luxury into his ample frame until he almost bursts apart at the seams like that fat man in the Monty Python Sketch…… and there’s not a damm thing any of us can do about it,and he knows it………………..

  26. Terry2

    This from Crikey may explain a few things over the diary issue :

    “the minister’s continual delay in processing the request could be seen as running down the clock before Brandis’ widely expected move out of the ministry — and possible move to London. Because the FOI is still in the “processing” stage, if Brandis leaves his post, the request would then be passed on to his successor. In at least three previous FOI cases — for Tony Abbott’s diary, for Andrew Robb’s diary, and for Sussan Ley’s diary — when these requests were passed on, the new minister’s office suddenly claimed it did not have access to the diary and could not complete the request.”

    These are the sort of people you are dealing with, the are absolutely contemptuous of us.

  27. Pete Petrass

    Guilty as sin and definitely hiding something and going to great lengths to protect it.

  28. wam

    what a read!
    no wonder labor needs a gough, a hawke, a cake, a rudd or an exceptional woman to take government.
    Then beaten by a pisspot’s mate, a union hating disingenuous lingerer, a lying suppository and a janus.

    There should be an open government website with the diary. with exclusions, of all politicians is posted by the last sunday of the month
    Showing:
    why where who with how long and conclusion.

  29. Diane

    Having been raised in Britain myself, and having worked in the capital there for many years, I have to ask what London can possibly have done wrong to deserve this parasite being shipped there. Haven’t they suffered enough? Isn’t there somewhere in Syria that he could be sent to instead? Signed, by the way 🙂

  30. jim

    Thanks for posting signed and shared.

  31. Paul Charles Vik

    Georgie Porgie, Pudding and pie,
    Kissed the girls and made them cry,
    When the boys came out to play,
    Georgie Porgie ran away.

  32. ausross

    Thanks for the comments, folks. The word is Brandis is expected to be dumped from the Cabinet, but the question becomes when. And if he is done for contempt of court, that changes a few things, including implications for diplomatic postings. I am sure he will eventually be given some nice job somewhere.

    Yes, Abbott (meaning Credlin) refused diary access. Credlin also rushed back from holidays to personally block an FoI request seeking confirmation that Abbott had given up his British citizenship. As far as I am aware, that matter has never been resolved. It is surprising that Brandis was against Abbott given the pair of them behave in much the same way.

    brickbob – I agree that there is more than questionable behaviour in law enforcement; ever since Abbott appointed the current AFP Commissioner, it is remarkable how often their actions support Liberal interests. For example, how fast they were to go after Peter Slipper, only for the prosecution to screw up. Yet attempts to refer Bronwyn Bishop for what looks very much like fraudulent behaviour over travel expenses (not choppergate) are just passed off for Finance to look after and when has Finance ever referred a pollie to the Feds? As far as I can tell, never.

    James O’Neill – thanks for that info about his getting silk – I wasn’t aware of that. Just makes him that much more contemptible.

    Matters Not – I completely agree with his political ineptitude. I expect Turnbull has been fuming at him behind closed doors. However he is hardly the only one guilty on that front, on both sides of the House/Senate. But this contemptuous attitude towards the law is not only beyond the pale, it is probably the best chance to take action against him.

    Cheers

  33. Kaye Lee

    One of the most despicable acts by Brandis was to sack Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes to thrust his little Young Liberals/IPA friend Tim Wilson on the Human Rights Commission so he could earn a shit load of money and have something to put on his CV while biding his time until Andrew Robb resigned. Freedom boy was a total failure – he didn’t include any Muslims in his religious freedom summit but the scientologists were there for example – and was no doubt the mole feeding Brandis information about Triggs.

    Andrew Elder has an interesting view….

    “While many Coalition MPs have law degrees, few have extensive experience in legal practice. Debates in legal circles resonate less within the Liberal Party than they did. Brandis seems to brush off debate on legal matters rather than engage as a more self-confident lawyer might.

    The poverty of options facing the prime minister for this crucial office is the result of a generational shift by lawyers away from the Liberal Party. The law does not appear to be suffering from this separation but the Liberal Party definitely is, in its ability to attract talented people and conduct intelligent, well-informed, sustained, and relevant debates.”

  34. Kyran

    Cue the drum roll, cue the fanfare. TADA. He produced his diary.

    “Many meetings or appointments happen spontaneously or at short notice.
    “Quite often, the Attorney-General arranges meetings himself and these are not always entered in the diary.”
    The diary printouts show various appointments for the Attorney-General, ranging from flight bookings to ministerial meetings and national security briefings.
    At the time Senator Brandis was also minister for the arts, and his diary shows him attending performances of the ballet and opera.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-20/no-evidence-of-brandis-meetings-ahead-of-budget-cuts-labor-says/8367754

    His diary apparently shows he did not consult. Or if he did, it wasn’t entered in his diary. We must, therefore, rely on his memory. You know, that muscle that failed him when recalling when and where he initially ‘consulted’ with the West Australian’s about the Bell fiasco?
    It’s not like this git has form on diary dysfunction, is it?

    “George Brandis was on a taxpayer-funded trip to Italy when the urge to drop in and see Pell became so overwhelming that he forgot to mention it anywhere in his official records related to the trip.
    The secret lunch raises many questions now that it has been exposed. Questions such as
    •How could the Attorney General as the person in charge of the Royal Commission think it was in any way appropriate to secretly meet with one of the Commissions key witnesses and certainly the highest profile witness?
    •Given Brandis now claims this meeting was not government business, did the taxpayer bear any of the expense?
    •As the Australia’s highest ranking officer of the law was Brandis aware of the Victoria Police investigation and the allegations against Pell?
    •Were any of these allegations discussed over lunch along with the likelihood of them being raised at the Royal Commission?
    •Did George Brandis offer up a legal opinion that suggested Pell may be better to not return to Australia?
    These are just a few”

    http://wixxyleaks.com/oh-george-the-lavish-lunch-with-george-george/

    If only Dreyfus expanded the request to include 21st July, 2015. Or, for that matter, the entire period covering the Bell Resources/Gleeson saga.
    This muppet is either completely incompetent or completely dishonest.
    Then again, if competence or integrity were requirements for ministerial commission, we’d be in desperate straits.
    Over to you, talcum. What will you do? Let me guess. Nothing to see here, move along.
    Thank you Mr Hamilton and commenters. Take care

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