APPOINTMENT OF QUEENSLAND’S CHIEF JUSTICE
Catherine Holmes was named Queensland’s Chief Justice last night after two months of deliberations by the Queensland Government. This is a fine appointment and the Government ought to be congratulated on restoring integrity to the process of appointing judicial officers in this State. The announcement comes after the resignation of previous Chief Justice Tim Carmody, whose term lasted less than a year after his controversial appointment. Promisingly, Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker has offered his Party’s support to the new Chief Justice.
Although yesterday’s appointment followed all the proper conventions and protocols, there remains the need for serious discussion by the Government concerning the establishment of a Judicial Commission. Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath did not promise to introduce a Judicial Commission upon Carmody’s resignation. However, the ‘Carmody Saga’ should not be quickly forgotten as it highlights the need for the establishment of a Judicial Commission. A Queensland Commission would be an independent body that protects fundamental principles of independence and accountability from heavily political appointments.
There are other benefits of a judicial commission. The New South Wales Commission, as an example, investigates and reports on consistency of sentencing, provides ongoing education for judicial officers and examines complaints against judicial officers. More importantly, however, is its role in advising and reporting to the attorney-general on appointments.