Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

PRIVILEGE

WHAT'S THAT MR HULLS?


Despite the public outcries, Senator Bill Heffernan's attack on High Court judge Michael Kirby has a lot more to do with politics than it does with homophobia. After sustained criticism of Bishop Hollingworth's old-fashioned view of sexual assault and the 'children overboard' affair, Heffernan's attack on Kirby has all the hallmarks of an orchestrated Liberal counter attack. It's more than just a diversion.

You attack ours and we'll attack yours. That's the principle that allowed Heffernan off the leash. Fortunately for the Liberals it's easier to attack a gay man by way of allegations about an interest in young men than it is to demean Mick Jagger or some bloke from Nine's Footy Show when he goes in search of young women.

That Heffernan aired his phony allegations under privilege says more about the political process than it does about privilege. How was a moral crusader like Heffernan able to justify such ethically questionable behaviour to his superiors? In a political system known for enforcing conformity how did Heffernan break the shackles? Designed originally to enhance freedom of speech and the power of the individual member it has always been compromised by the party system.

Rarely is the fearless quest for truth the raison d'être of members who relish the salacious 'revelation'. As long as the party system maintains its hold over member's parliamentary privilege will continue to be bastardized in this way.

No matter what the opportunism of Heffernan, partisan politicians such as Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls who claim Heffernan's actions undermine the independence of the judiciary need to be treated with scant regard. Heffernan has abused privilege and attacked a judge in the same way the ALP did when it attacked justice Callinan. When political purpose comes calling the independence of the judiciary counts for nothing.

But does this mean judges should be protected from criticism? The truth is judges have been protected for too long. Trade Unionists who've defied capitalist laws, Irish republicans in Northern Ireland, petty criminals and the families of murdered women know all too well how the prejudices of conservative judges have been protected from criticism. Only in recent times have the misogynist rulings of some judges been put the test. If Hulls has his way we'll all shut up and let those who run the legal system have their way.

It's no surprise that few people would even be aware that Justice Kirby ruled against Heather Osland's appeal to the High Court. Imagine if Bill Heffernan had chosen to dissect Kirby's thoughts on Osland's appeal rather than descend into a tawdry tale of salacious stories about male prostitutes.

Justice Alistair Nicholson, chief justice of the family court, received a standing ovation when he defended Kirby at a legal conference in Melbourne on Monday. Would he have been as popular if, as a defender of the female victims of family violence, he'd been questioning the assumptions of Kirby's judgment in the Osland appeal?


(more to come)


 

 

 


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