Friday, 14 August 2015

Former High Court Judge Dyson Heydon

was asked to head a Royal Commission into some apparent problems in the union movement Downunder.
The Royal Commission itself has been called a "witch hunt" by the union movement and Labor. A former Prime Minister has appeared in front of it and the current leader of the Opposition has also appeared. The latter may yet be recalled  if the Commission continues.
The RC is  unpopular. It has cost millions. It is said it is not getting anywhere. It may not get anywhere. Taking an oath to tell the truth is no guarantee people will tell the truth. There is a great deal that many people would like to remain hidden - and, before you accuse me of bias, let me say that they come from right across the political spectrum.
Commissioner Heydon has been doing an unpopular job well. Even his almost certain fury did not show in his calm and measured response to the way in which the Opposition Leader behaved.
As I just said Heydon was a member of the High Court. He has spent years of his life on the bench. He knows how to behave. When he goes into court he leaves his personal views behind. It is what judges have to do. They have no choice. They have to apply the law, not their personal view of the law. 
There is now a row because Heydon initially accepted an invitation to give the Sir Garfield Barwick lecture to the NSW Law Society. Someone there apparently decided it would also be used a fundraiser for the Liberal Party. On learning that Heydon, rightly, withdrew. Labor and the unions however are baying for his removal. They claim he is biased. They want the RC closed down - something they have wanted all along and this merely being another opportunity to do it. They want this despite the RC being open to public scrutiny - or perhaps because of it.
I wonder whether they realise what they are really doing. No, they don't like the RC but, if they have nothing to hide, it would be better for it to run its course. In calling for it to be closed down now because of an invitation declined they are calling into question the probity of the Commissioner and the legal system. 
If they succeed in removing the Commissioner and getting the RC closed down they will have done immense harm to our legal system.  Is that what they want?

No comments: