Reclaiming Justice and the Law – Report from the First National Public Meeting 27 May 2012
On Sunday 27 May 2012 a packed house of approximately 100 braved Melbourne’s wintry conditions to come along to the First in a Series of National Public Meetings to Reclaim Justice and the Law. Some had come from as far afield as New South Wales, and even Western Australia.
A panel of speakers spoke of their experiences at the hands of a Victorian legal profession that has lost its ethics, and lost its way, at all ranks of the profession, from solicitors, to barristers, to judges and government officials and administrators.
I explained to the meeting how an unethical 2004 High Court test case wrongly run and funded with millions of dollars of public monies by two lawyer-dominated Victorian government agencies is chiefly responsible for the rapid deterioration of ethics in the ranks of un-policed Victorian solicitors over the past decade. This in turn has contaminated and caused a corresponding downward plunge in ethics amongst the ranks of Victoria’s barristers, and Victoria’s judiciary as well.
This ethical slide has been propelled by the double whammy effect of the 2004 decision by former Attorney-General Rob Hulls and former Premier Steve Bracks to cave in to self-serving lawyer interests by politically knee-capping the independent Victorian Legal Ombudsman Scheme (with the courageous Kate Hamond at the helm) and to restore the ‘old boy’s club’ credos consummated in the hands of the “co-regulation is no regulation” sham, Legal Services Commissioner scheme.
I explained how the the Baillieu-Clark Victorian government:
(a) needs to hurry up and abolish the failed Legal Services Commissioner “co-regulation is no-regulation” scheme and re-establish the pre-2004 independent (of lawyer manipulation) Victorian Legal Ombudsman Scheme; and
(b) needs to fund appropriate test case(s) to the High Court to undo the damage done to the Victorian (and Australian) general public by the Victorian Government’s own test case of 2003-2004 (inappropriately funded with millions of dollars of public monies by Victoria Legal Aid Office and its sister statutory authority, the Legal Practitioners Liability Committee) in which the High Court of Australia was seduced into subverting the rule of law:
by retaining 7,000 barristers’ immunities from workplace negligence laws (when every other country that inherited the ancient British aristocratic privilege of the barristers’ immunity has abolished it – the UK being the last in 2000, and by a margin of 15 Lawlords to nil) and;
by doing something a hundred times worse than keeping that old feudal age law, which was to extend that immunity to the ranks of more than 70,000 Australian solicitors (Australia being the only country where this has ever been done, and this will almost certainly never be copied by any other country).
And in virtually the same months in 2004 the Victorian general public were hit with the double whammy of having “their” parliament politically knee-cap the former independent legal regulator (Legal Services Ombudsman, Ms Kate Hamond) and introduce the self-serving “co-regulation is no regulation” Legal Services Commissioner scheme which has lived up to all the expectations of being a “failed” regulator – as proven by the State Government Ombudsman’s damning 2009 Annual Report to Parliament.
That 2009 Annual Report to Parliament should have sounded the death-knoll for that scheme, rather than the ‘quiet’ retirement in disgrace of Ms Victoria Marles and the transfer in of Mr Michael McGarvie who has proven himself to be every bit as disgraceful as his criminal refusals to investigate thousands of complaints a year, and his criminal reprisals against me over the years amply testify.
Resolutions to restore pre-2004 Australian common law and Victorian legal regulatory scheme
Two resolutions were put to the general meeting and were unanimously passed:
(1) THAT Delegations be sent to the Victorian Premier, the Honorable Ted Baillieu (MLA for Hawthorn) and to the Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark (MLA for Box Hill), DEMANDING that the Victorian Government provide FUNDING for one (or more) legal test case(s) asking the High Court of Australia to repeal its 2004 decision in D’Orta-Ekenaike v Victoria Legal Aid and a Barrister, where the Victorian Government obtained new, nationwide laws (laws that never existed anywhere else in the world) to the effect that since 2004 Australian’s cannot sue their solicitors / barristers to compensate them if they negligently handle their legal case.
(2) THAT Delegations be sent to the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and to the Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark demanding that the Victorian government RE-ESTABLISH the independent (of lawyers) Victorian Legal Ombudsman Scheme that operated successfully between 1996 and 2004 and ABOLISH the failed “co-regulation = no-regulation” Legal Services Commissioner scheme that the former Brumby-Bracks-Hulls government created in 2004.
Establishment of National Lawyerocracy Victims Impact Register
The meeting established the beginnings of a National Victims Impact Register (to be discussed and in detail with my next report – link to appear here).
The meeting concluded with a general assembly discussion from the floor, where it was obvious once again that there are large numbers of victims of unethical lawyers, who have been equally roughly mistreated (ignored and worse) by the supposed legal regulator, the Legal Services Commissioner.
Many of those present at the meeting came forward to file Victim Impact Statements, to register on a private and confidential basis their stories of hardship and abuse and cover-ups at the hands of uncaring and unethical lawyers and government officials.
The Victims Impact Register will form a powerful data base for media and lobbying purposes. Hopefully, down the track it will provide the basis for a system of “reconciliation” (counselling and even compensation) for the thousands of members of the public (and their families) who suffer from unethical (and unpoliced) lawyer abuse in Australia every year.
Further Nationwide Public Meetings to Reclaim Justice and the Law
Further public meetings are planned for Melbourne and all Capital Cities (and regional centres) around Australia in upcoming weeks and months to discuss exactly the same two problems and propose the same two resolutions.
1. The scandalous new “solicitors’ immunity” laws created by the High Court in 2004 (when it should have gone the UK way and abolished the ancient barrister’s privilege of being “unsuable” ie above the law) is a national problem that only the High Court can fix. Only the High Court can bring Australia law into line with UK law and the laws of every other English and non-English speaking nation, restoring rule of law and human rights (or the semblances of them) back to all Australians. Pressure needs to be put on each State Government to encourage the Victorian Government to fund the solution to the mess its unethical legal agencies created with their multi-million (public dollars / lawyers picinic in the High Court in 2004. And there is no reason for each State Government not to contribute something towards the costs of the necessary test cases to properly put the problems to the High Court of Australia and see that they are properly remedied this time.
2. And every State and Territory suffers from the consequences of a legal profession that has engineered things with and through government (in some States, for more than a hundred years) so that it is free from the checks and balances of genuine, independent regulatory oversight. So reforms including the creation of independent State legal regulators (and stymieing the legal profession’s push for national “Co-regulation – no-regulation” on the Victorian (and New South Wales) failed Legal Services Commissioner scheme models must be strenuously opposed on public interest (and public safety) grounds.
Lawyerocracy on Trial – Resuming 6 July 2012
I also spoke at that Public Meeting of my own experiences on 21 May 2012 turning up at VCAT to hear scandalous false charges brought against me by the failed Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, Mr Michael McGarvie and currently before VCAT (though neither statutory authority has any statutory powers to be doing this and the Legal Services Commissioner and his staff of a dozen in-house lawyers are doing their utmost to become the first government officials to be jailed for up to 2 years per count under Victoria’s untested Whistleblowers Protection Act of 2001 for their criminal reprisal actions against me.
These VCAT proceedings are just the latest, and most desperate and absurd of many criminal reprisals the Legal Services Commissioner and staff, have initiated against me in recent years as illegal payback for my whistleblowing and public interest disclosures of misconduct and corruption by him, his Office, and his disgraced predecessor, Ms Victoria Marles, including a $50 million Supreme Court law suit by way of damages and counterclaim that I initiated in 2008 against the Legal Services Commissioner (as Seventh Defendant by Counterclaim), and his two informants / co-defendants that he is most anxious to keep hidden from VCAT (a Victorian Barrister of ill-repute and even more evil deeds, the Seventh Defendant by Counterclaim. And the corruption and misconduct that I have blown the whistle on over the past severally years is just exactly the same kind that the Victorian State Government Ombudsman denounced on a massive scale in his damning 2009 Annual Report to Parliament (before falling strangely silent almost immediately thereafter).
Along with an outstanding public turnout (a full gallery of more than a 100 members of the public – almost certainly a national record attendance for these sorts of proceedings), at what was supposed to be the start of the 3 day scheduled hearing beginning on 21 May 2012 I discovered that in breach of multiple ethical standards and in violation of many High Court, statutory and constitutional laws, a Judge Bowman had been “flown in” from his judicial position in the County Court to preside as Acting President of VCAT in and for the purposes of a secret hearing held without my knowledge by VCAT on 17 May 2012. Judge Bowman it should be pointed out has had no part in these proceedings either before nor since that secret hearing.
Along with the packed public gallery (including a few journalists and media colleagues) I found out that VCAT and other government agencies had pulled that secret hearing together so quickly, for the purposes of having Judge Bowman make rulings excluding evidence from 57 different sources as to the extent of my years of whistleblowing, and years of corruption and misconduct within the Legal Services Commissioner, and more broadly within the legal profession and within government.
Having regard to VCAT’s own legislation, the legislation governing VCAT’s (failed) sibling statutory authority the Legal Services Commissioner, and a long list of applicable High Court principles, such as “rights to natural justice”, “rights to a fair hearing” and “freedom from apprehension of bias,” it is my reasonable and educated opinion (as I informed Judge Bowman this week) that the secret hearing that he presided over and the orders that he made on 17 May 2012 were not lawful. Having regard to applicable laws, that government-only hearing, and the things done by the government agency participants, were not just unauthorised and illegal but were, in all probability, quite criminal.
Each of the government agencies represented at that illegal hearing should have known of their legal responsibilities to ensure that no hearing occurred without my knowledge and without my presence, and the only legal and ethical thing to be done by any of them was to adjourn the proposed business of that 17 May 2012 secret hearing to be dealt with as the first items on the agenda at the start of the 3 day trial scheduled for barely “a day [and a half] later” on 21 May 2012.
For these government agencies to do this in all the circumstances, to orchestrate a secret hearing to strip so much evidence (evidence that the Legal Services Commissioner, and, apparently VCAT, does not want to have brought into these trumped up hearings of these trumped up charges) must be criminal. On top of the internal disciplinary actions that need to be taken within each government agency, I expect criminal charges to be investigated and laid against each of the government officials who were involved in that illegal 17 May 2012 meeting, including Judge Bowman who, quite frankly, should have known most of all that what he was doing was wrong, grossly unethical and could not possibly have been anything less than criminal.
In the absence of any more secret government hearings, the next (scheduled) hearing of these trumped up charges cooked up for a third or fourth time against me by the 9th Defendant by Counterclaim (our failed Victorian legal regulator) on the “strong urge[nces] of his 7th and 10th $50,000,000 co-defendants) will be heard on 6 July 2012. In the meantime, these failed government agencies are forcing me to expend considerable time and energy digging up the details and overcoming their resistance to uncovering those details of what these government officials fully got up to on 17 May 2012. And of course, as and when I find out the details, I have a whole lot more whistleblowing to do about them.
Independent Federal Candidate for Lalor
Constitutional Human Rights Advocate
Solicitor and Barrister of the High Court of Australia
(Celebrating 20 Years of Legal Practice 1990 – 2010)