By Maria Hatzakis, Melinda Howells, staff
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has refused to back down in an escalating row with the state’s judiciary.
Today a Brisbane Supreme Court judge adjourned an alleged bikie’s bail hearing because of Mr Newman’s recent comments that judges should recognise that the community wanted “protection”, and should act accordingly.
Justice George Fryberg questioned whether he should hear the DPP’s application to revoke 25-year-old Jared Kevin Anthony Brown’s bail.
The judge quoted an ABC story that quoted Mr Newman as saying that he wanted the Queensland judiciary to act to “protect the community”.
Judge says ‘it’s essential justice be seen to be done’, claims Newman’s comments compromise that
Justice Fryberg said he was troubled by the comments, which he said could put the public’s perception of justice at risk.
Separation of powers
- Origins can be traced back to ancient Greece
- Enshrined in the Australian Constitution
- Aims to avoid having one person or body as law maker, law enforcer and law interpreter
- Power to govern should be evenly distributed between parliament, the executive and the judiciary
- Each group must not encroach upon the functions of the other branches
- Queensland’s Constitution does not prescribe a rigid separation of powers
- This allows state parliament to legislate to alter judicial role of courts
- Australian Constitution overrules state authority only in certain areas, such as native title
“Before I commence hearing this case, I need to know whether the report reflects what the Premier said about this case and whether the DPP reflects that view, or whether they have withdrawn it,” he said.
“It is essential in our system that justice be seen to be done.
“If we hear remarks on the record that are not withdrawn, it would be very difficult for members of the public to avoid the conclusion that the court was bending to the will of the government … justice would not be seen to be done.
“The difficulty I see is the application is being brought by the Government … the Government’s principal spokesman has publicly told the court what the outcome should be.”
Adjourning the DPP’s application to have the bail decision reviewed, Justice Fryberg asked the DPP to determine whether the media reports of Mr Newman’s coments were accurate, whether the Premier had withdrawn what he said, and if not, whether the court ought to hear the matter or stay it indefinitely.
Newman refused to back down in parliament this afternoon
Mr Newman’s government has recently pushed through tough new laws aimed at closing down bikie gangs and giving itself the power to rule on whether sex offenders should stay behind bars.
And the Premier refused to back down in state parliament this afternoon, saying he had never commented on specific cases.
“My comments are reflecting what the people of Queensland are saying and thinking,” he said.
“My comments are backed by Queenslanders who want the judiciary to listen to them. That’s what we’re asking [them] to do.”
Mr Newman said he was not the first senior politician to question court decisions.
“Peter Beattie had a tougher go at the judges… Judy Spence had a bigger go at judges, Anna Bligh had a bigger go at judges, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia had a bigger go at judges,” he said.
‘Courts could grind to halt’ says Labor
Earlier Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the state’s legal system could be at risk if Mr Newman did not back down.
“I expect the Premier to stand up [in parliament] and withdraw his comments unreservedly, and apologise to the courts for these attacks,” she said.
“Otherwise our courts will grind to a halt.
“Today is a wake-up call for the Premier.”