Government bully-boys attack judiciary
Confrontation between the judiciary and governments is increasing and becoming sharper. Governments at state and federal level are interfering in the legal procedures of the courts for political gain. In NSW the Carr Labor Government, notorious for beating up law and order issues and attacking court decisions with demands for harsher sentences, last week overturned a decision by the Land and Environment Court which had ruled against the building of a garbage dump in the Sydney suburb of Clyde. Residents had fought long and hard against plans by waste giant Collex to build a waste management terminal at Clyde from where 400,000 tonnes of landfill would be shipped to a former mine near Goulburn, south of Sydney. Corporate donations Carr posed as a compassionate advocate for the mineworkers who lost their jobs when the Woodlawn mine was closed and who are owed $5 million worth of entitlements. He used them as a pretext to overturn the court's decision. But with the extent of corporate donations received by the NSW ALP, it is more likely that Carr's advocacy is really on behalf of Collex. Shattered John Drake, a resident who was one of the leaders of the year-long campaign against the Clyde dump, said, "I am shattered. This changes the fabric of society because it basically says the law is irrelevant." The current Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, spent much of his time when he was Immigration Minister attacking the courts for making decisions that favoured asylum seekers, including those appealing from prison camps who had been locked up under the Government's mandatory sentencing laws. Ruddock went as far as demanding that judges who he claimed had "involved themselves in the political process" should "resign from the bench and stand for Parliament". For Ruddock and Co the judiciary is viewed as a barrier that gets in the way of their political objectives. Above the law Governments are effectively placing themselves above the law while posing as being tough-on-crime to win votes while attacking judges who expose their inhumane policies. High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, last week criticised government interference in the judicial system saying they are "politicians or polemicists of differing types who know nothing of the common law and its marvellous creativity". "These bully boys are contemptuous of fundamental human rights and jealous of any source of power apart from their own." He said powerful interests hate it when judges "express the law in terms of legal principles to protect minorities, the weak and the vulnerable".