ALHR and PIAC were appalled at the reported comments of the Federal Minister for Justice, David Johnston, that the courts are not to be trusted with respect to the issuing of secret search warrants.
The Federal Minister was today reported as having justified the lack of judicial oversight proposed in the latest Federal secret search legislation as necessary to prevent news of any warrant issued being leaked by a court of judicial officer.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights today call on the Minister for Justice to immediately deny this reported justification or apologise to the judiciary for the direct and outrageous implication that the independent judiciary are not to be trusted.
PIAC Chief Executive Officer, Robin Banks, said today:
If the media report is accurate, the Minister for Justice has made an extraordinary claim and one that cannot be left unchallenged. Our system of government relies on the Rule of Law, the existence of an independent judiciary and of three branches of government: the courts, the parliament and the executive. Here we have a senior member of the executive suggesting that the judiciary are not to be trusted. I am not aware of any leaks ever being reported as coming from the judicial branch of government, while leaks from the executive remain relatively common.
President of ALHR, Simeon Beckett, added a call on the Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, as the Chief Legal Officer of Australia to remind the Minister for Justice of the role of the courts and the centrality of the Rule of Law to Australian democracy.
We urge the Federal Attorney-General to distance himself from these reported comments of the Minister for Justice and to speak in support of the vital role played by the courts in our constitutional democracy. This slur on the integrity of judicial officers across Australia cannot be left unchallenged
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169