The Australian Lawyers Alliance have expressed their grievances regarding the gross misconduct of George Brandis who happens to be the current Commonwealth Attorney-General. Tony Kenyon, who is the national president of ALA, said that the resignation of Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson SC explained the fact that Senator Brandis was unfit to hold the position as Attorney General.
The ALA president further added that the AG’s actions in the recent past have not been compelling and that he trespassed by causing gross and unacceptable interference with the former Solicitor General’s independence and integrity.
Mr. Kenyon said that attempting to infringe the fundamental rights and freedoms of the former Solicitor-General were unacceptable and it broke the record set for the past 100 years. He said that Justin Gleeson served well in his office without getting involved with any issues putting his integrity to test. “The former Solicitor-General is well-recognised as a distinguished lawyer, with a good record for integrity,” said Mr. Kenyon.
The ALA president further expounded on the issue claiming that the Attorney-General’s actions brought doubt on his position because he ignored Mr. Gleenson’s rights. The main purpose of the Solicitor General is to provide fearless and frank advice to government. He said that Mr. Gleenson performed his task accordingly as an independent statutory counsel to the government.
Mr. Kenyon stated that Senator Brandis showed a gross infringement on the independence of the Solicitor-General. His actions, in demanding departmental heads, the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and other ministers to seek his permission before accessing the Solicitor-General’s opinion, was way out of his powers as the Attorney General.
Mr. Kenyon said that this issue was common since there was a similar incidence whereby Queensland’s Solicitor-General, Walter Softronoff QC was forced to resign. This happened under the Newman government.
He added that it was high time the legal profession put this into thought because some attorneys-general showed disregard for fundamental and important safeguards on the independence of the Solicitor-General’s office.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance national president said that the legal body has joined hands with other bodies in the legal profession to express their disappointments regarding the actions of the Attorney General. As a matter of fact, they are going to unravel the issues affecting the duties of the Solicitor-General’s office.
Gabrielle Appleby, an Associate Professor and Australia’s leading expert on matters concerning the Solicitor-General’s office said that the A-G’s actions are against the rule of law and that they raised serious concerns in the legal industry.
“The Attorney General’s actions have raised the uncomfortable image of a dog on a lead and this has greatly contributed to the practical destruction of Solicitor General’s independence,” said Dr. Gavan Griffith QC, who is a former Commonwealth Solicitor-General.
“I view Senator Brandis’ justification for his actions as a stretch,” said Sir Anthony Mason QC – High Court Chief Justice and former Solicitor-General.
“I strongly feel that the Attorney-General’s actions have negatively affected the Solicitor-General’s office with respect to independence and integrity. Therefore, he should do the right thing and resign,” concluded Mr. Kenyon.