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George Brandis’ report card

Regardless of whether we have a double dissolution or a normal election, Attorney-General George Brandis will be up for re-election as a Queensland Senator.

The following is a review of his time in office to assist the people of Queensland to decide whether he deserves to continue to represent them.

Before he was even sworn in, incoming AG Brandis wrote to a court where Peta Credlin was appearing on drink driving charges describing her exemplary character and unblemished driving record. The offence was proven but no conviction recorded.

New taxpayer funded bookcases had to be ordered because Brandis’ other new taxpayer funded bookcase was too big to move and he had tens of thousands of dollars worth of taxpayer funded books that needed accommodating – after all, as he reminded us, he was also the Minister for Books.

In December 2013, Brandis approved an ASIO raid on the office of the lawyer for East Timor in their case alleging ASIS spying during commercial negotiations over oil and gas. Evidence was confiscated in the name of national security. He also approved the ASIO raid and passport cancellation of the key witness and whisleblower, a former ASIS agent, which consequently prevented him from testifying at the ICJ in the Netherlands.

Apparently George has little regard for the International Court of Justice, or the UN for that matter. Despite both bodies deeming that East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and an occupied territory, Senator Brandis insisted otherwise, registering Australia’s opposition to a United Nations resolution ordering an end to ”all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories”.

”The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with perjorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” said Senator Brandis.

Palestinian diplomats in Australia, concerned about Brandis’ pro-Israeli stance, called that statement “outrageous” saying ”East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied territories and that has been recognised by the UN and under international law.”

Also in December 2013, Mr Brandis appointed the IPA’s Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission causing the sacking of Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes as Tim came with no additional funding to a job that had not been advertised, and had no interview process. Tim spent a great deal of money flitting around the world waiting for Gillian Triggs to resign or Andrew Robb to retire.

Brandis bullied and harassed Ms Triggs, questioning her motives and credibility, and publicly stating that “the government no longer had confidence in her.” Despite a vicious onslaught, she steadfastly answered all questions asked of her with dignity and honesty, refusing to deny the truth of the report into children in detention. When public humiliation failed, Brandis resorted to bribery, offering Ms Triggs another job if she would resign.

Wilson was supposed to promote the Brandis’ push to amend the RDA, in part to allow media commentators such as Andrew Bolt greater freedom of expression, and to legally ensure that “people do have a right to be bigots“. Brandis labelled Bolt’s comments on mixed descent aboriginals, found by the Federal Court to be racial vilification, as ‘quite reasonable.’ Ultimately, community backlash saw this proposal dropped, at least temporarily.

One area where Tim and George disagreed was metadata retention, not that George seemed to have any idea what metadata is – he just knew that keeping it would save us from terrorist attack even though there is no data to support that. New counter-terrorism laws mean the average Australian will not be able to learn what the government is doing in terms of intelligence operations because revealing those details could result in long prison terms. Dual citizens who act in a manner “contrary to their allegiance to Australia” will now be stripped of their citizenship. These measures earned us a stinging rebuke in a damning Human Rights Watch report.

In the 2014 budget from hell, where arts institutions suffered more than $87 million of cuts over the next four years, Mr Brandis, as Minister for the Arts, gifted $1 million to the Australian Ballet School to help them buy a mansion for a few rich kids to board in. Daniele Kemp, wife of the chairman of the IPA and former Liberal arts minister Rod Kemp, is on the board.

The Minister also gave Melbourne classical music record label Melba Recordings a $275,000 grant. It was not part of any official funding round and the grant was not peer-assessed, but Melba, whose patrons and supporters include a cavalcade of highly-connected individuals including a former Howard government cabinet minister, did lobby Brandis about funding. The funding was decided in April 2014, but the Melba grant was not publicly announced in any media release or listed in the May 2014 budget papers.

Brandis also gave $1.15m in non peer-reviewed funding to the Australian World Orchestra, a company closely associated with his policy advisor Michael Napthali. Napthali was a director of the orchestra immediately before taking up his role in Brandis’s office.

In 2014, a boycott of the Sydney Biennale festival by artists protesting against a sponsor, the Transfield Foundation, caused a furious Brandis to write to the Australia Council’s board, instructing it to develop a policy to deny public funding to anyone involved in a sponsor boycott.

In the next budget $105 million was cut from the Australia Council for the Arts with the money reallocated to a new national program for excellence in the arts over which the minister himself had final say. He did not consult anyone about this decision. When representatives of the small-to-medium sector travelled to Canberra to express concern about the changes, Brandis declined to meet with them. He met with lobbyists from the major performing arts sector instead.

Malcolm Turnbull was quick to sack George as Arts Minister and give back what had become known as George’s “slush fund”.

In August last year, Brandis announced plans to change the national environmental legislation to stop green groups seeking judicial review of environmental approvals.

Brandis argues that this significant change in the scope of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) is necessary to protect Australian jobs from “radical activists” who bring “vigilante litigation” against the government.

And now we have the ongoing saga of George Brandis refusing to release his diary, despite a court order suggesting he do so. He will be appealing the decision which is somewhat ironic because one of his prime reasons for not releasing the diary was that it would take his staff too much time to read through and see what should be redacted. How much time does a federal court appeal take? And what does he have to hide?

A new report from the Human Rights Law Centre says Australia is facing a “corrosive” decline in democracy as sweeping laws seek to stifle press freedom, curb community advocacy and sideline courts.

Attacks on whistleblowers and press freedom, curbing peaceful protest, sidelining courts and limiting advocacy by community organisations all point to a decline in basic rights that must be arrested, said the executive director, Hugh de Kretser. It also takes aim at the government’s use of “financial levers” on advocacy groups to stifle criticism.

“Open government, a free press, a strong and diverse civil society and the rule of law are some of the vital foundations of our democracy,” he said. “Yet we are witnessing an unmistakeable trend in Australia of governments eroding these foundations with new laws and practices that entrench secrecy and stifle criticism and accountability.”

George Brandis was the number one candidate on the 2010 LNP Senate ticket. If anything proves the necessity of voting under the line at the next election, that should.

 

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17 comments

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  1. Margot

    Great to have all this information about George Brandis accessible in one spot. Hope you will do similar articles on other LNP and cross bench nasties,

  2. my say

    Come on QLD you got rid of can do now u can get rid of georgie boy ,to make the world a better place

  3. Matters Not

    where Peta Credlin was appearing on drink driving charges describing

    True! But context is everything. You may recall that Peta was trying for a baby at that time. And most, if not all on this site, know of some female who became pregnant while pissed. Whether it’s causal or coincidental only the ‘experts’ know and besides this is not a medical site.

    But it’s that would be the quality of legal ‘advice’ Brandis offers when he’s really on his game.

  4. Rossleigh

    I still have a problem with “vigilante litigation”; given that “vigilante” means to take the law into your own hands, the phrase makes about as much sense as saying “land-only amphibian” or “ambidextrous one armed man”!

  5. Paul Murchie

    but wait ! there’s MORE WORSE !

    “On 23 October 2006, Brandis made headlines when he wanted Good Shepherd Catholic College in Mount Isa to ban from its school library the book “100 Greatest Tyrants” by British author Andrew Langley, which places Sir Robert Menzies, the longest serving Australian Prime Minister, in such company as Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and Augusto Pinochet.[14] The book claims that Menzies was a tyrant (an abuser of political power) and that Menzies’ most tyrannical act was when he wanted to ban the Communist Party of Australia. The school principal Mr Durie said “Obviously it’s twaddle to suggest Menzies was a tyrant in the same class as Attila the Hun and that crowd”, but refused to withdraw the book as it would be a resource for the generation of debate.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Brandis

  6. fiddlestixbob

    George ‘Soapy’ Brandis. The very sort of person who should not be in government.

  7. Pappinbarra Fox

    And do not forget the huge cuts to community legal centres across Australia. CLCs assist the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

  8. Diana

    Don’t forget that Brandis has had a private meeting last Maywith the pedohile protector George Pell, right in the middle of a royal commission when Pell is one of the main problem with child abuse I. Australia this man is a crook, how dare you visit this pedophile over the complaint that have come forward, all whist under the care of the Mad Monk Abbott

  9. Christine Farmer

    Can anyone name a single member of the present government worthy of our trust?

  10. Kaye Lee

    Christine,

    If I was pushed I would say Sharman Stone – she has often stood up to the men’s shenanigans- and Warren Entsch for his courage on marriage equality. I also appreciated Simon Birmingham’s response about the Safe Schools program but sadly, his weak-kneed so-called leader hung him out to dry to satisfy weirdos like Christensen, Bernardi, Nikolic and Hastie.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Sharman Stone wasn’t a bad minister to work for. She was low key, which is probably why we eventually ended up with Hockey, who Howard had entrusted to sell WorkChoices.

  12. paul walter

    Really, really good thread starter concerning one of the nastier, sillier and more destructive figures in the government- an evil carbuncle of an individual.

    Sharman Stone would have done better than the asshats with ministries, but then she is a woman, actually shows signs of mental activity and is not straight jacketable, so a ministry has been out of the question.

  13. Bronte ALLAN

    It seems like he is just keeping up the behavior patterns of ALL liberal obscenely over-paid, so-called “politicians”. He is just another right wing, tea party, flat earth, conservative clown like ALL his party! Here’s hoping every one of this lying, inept mob get the same sort of “exposure” by AIMN, as he has! Well done, Kaye!

  14. Stephen

    Put simply…the man is a dog! Of course being somewhat politically aware I must now apologise to all dogs and dog owners for the undeserved slur!

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