find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
ALA tells politicians to back off

ALA tells politicians to back off

Greg Barns

Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) spokesperson Greg Barns has slammed politicians from both major political parties for an “appalling” readiness to attack independent statutory officers.

Barns’ comments follow Tony Abbott’s public criticism of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs over herrecommendation to release a Papuan refugee from immigration detention.

The prime minister labelled Triggs’ decision as “pretty bizarre” and demonstrating “extremely questionable judgement” when speaking with reporters last week.

Barns described the attack as “disturbing” and showing “great ignorance of the law”.

This is not the first time the government has turned on senior legal officers over immigration policies.

In 2011, then prime minister Julia Gillard criticised the High Court for striking down the government’s Malaysia solution and criticised Chief Justice Robert French for being inconsistent with his pre-High Court judgments.

“We have seen from governments, both Liberal and Labor, an appalling preparedness to attack courts and those in similar roles,” said Barns.

Barns was a senior advisor to the Howard government and chief of staff to former Minister for Finance John Fahey. He was disendorsed by the Liberal Party in 2002 over his stance on refugees.

The Tasmanian-based barrister is currently acting for Independent member for Denison Andrew Wilkie, who has requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate crimes against asylum seekers by members of the Abbott Government. 

Timing is everything

Triggs’ report on children in immigration detention was completed late last year and is expected to be highly critical of the Abbott government.

The government has had the report for several weeks, however it will not be released until after parliament resumes next month.

Barns commented that Abbott’s personal attack on Triggs is “spin” in the lead up to the release of the report, which indicates that 167 children continue to be detained on Nauru.

“I would be stunned if Dr Triggs’ report was anything other than, not just embarrassing, but shattering to a country which purports to uphold the rule of law, fairness and says it’s about subscribing to human rights protocols,” he added.

Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) director Daniel Webb also questioned the timing and motivation of Abbott’s criticism of the HRC president.

“The [HRC] has advised the government of its human rights breaches in the past. It’s probably done so again in the children in detention report, which the government has received but hasn’t yet made public.

“Rather than taking the Commission’s advice on board, the Government seems intent on punishing them for giving it.

“There’s a clear trend emerging – the government responds to criticism by cutting funding, restricting advocacy and deliberately pressuring the critics.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

ALA tells politicians to back off
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...