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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4559 ..


representations made to him by then Magistrate Burns and Magistrate Fryar constituted a complaint within the terms of the act and that he had no other course of action.

The minister came to me immediately before he made his announcements in relation to the judicial commission and I encouraged him to act cautiously. I have said on the public record that it is up to the minister to demonstrate that he has done the right thing in this regard.

Very soon afterwards—within a week of establishing the judicial commission—the judicial commission was abandoned. I will draw to members’ attention the answer to a question on notice that I received yesterday that points to in excess of $17,000 that was expended in that very brief period in relation to the judicial commission. That does not include the money that was reported on that was expended by the ACT police and it does not include incidental costs of staff. This was direct outlays of paying for consultants, paying for legal advice and payments to commissioners who did not actually do any work. So $17,000, and counting, in pursuit of the Chief Magistrate, who was about to retire, in what now appears to be very tenuous circumstances indeed.

Mr Cahill and other people have openly questioned the legality of whether this was a properly constituted judicial commission. This is why Mr Corbell has found it necessary to come in here today and somehow assure us that everything he did was according to Hoyle. I will quote Mr Waterford from the Canberra Times on 25 September when he said:

… it is legally doubtful that there was ever a legally constituted judicial commission in the first place. This is because Corbell, and those advising him, seem to have little understanding of what the law required, and did not follow the steps laid down by the law. There had to be a complaint, and in writing. Corbell was advised orally by Magistrate Burns of his concerns that a message sent from Cahill’s office to a Victorian magistrate might be intended to “get at” that magistrate. Burns did nothing in writing. Later, another magistrate, Karen Fryar, emailed some documents to Corbell, but it is doubtful (since Corbell is holding on to them—

we do now have them, and we will now have the opportunity to peruse them—

… that these can be described as a written complaint.

Mr Waterford goes on:

A decision by an attorney-general to begin a judicial commission proceeding into whether a judge has attempted to poison the well of justice is an important and solemn one. It is taken only after the attorney has decided that the allegations, if sustained by the commission, could amount to “misbehaviour” and justify dismissal of the judicial officer by the ACT Assembly.

Neither Burns nor Fryar regarded themselves as having made a complaint under the Act. Neither (rightly) accept any responsibility for what Corbell decided to do after hearing of their concerns. Corbell has said, repeatedly, that the


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