The Bar Association of Queensland (BAQ) has slammed the government's decision to appoint a sitting judge as leader of the public enquiry into the recent floods.
The appointment of Justice Catherine Holmes as commissioner has angered the BAQ, which says the fact she is still active on the bench carries "real risks" for judicial integrity, including the perception that politicking may destroy public confidence in the judiciary's independence.
"Since 1987, the Queensland judiciary has adhered to a convention that a serving judge ought not to accept appointment to head a commission of inquiry," said a BAQ spokesperson in a statement released today (21 January).
"It is clear that the present inquiry involves real potential for political controversy as to administrative conduct of successive state and local government administrations since 1974."
The BAQ said it would be much more appropriate for the position to be awarded to a retired judge or barrister.
However, according to Queensland's Chief Justice, Paul de Jersey, Justice Holmes' appointment is to be viewed as an exception, not the rule.
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