Heiner commissioner chokes inquiry - thwarts Newman


Piers Akerman

Wednesday, July, 25, 2012, (3:11am)

  Queensland justice has not changed under Premier Campbell Newman, if a ruling by former Queensland Crime Commissioner Tim Carmody is any indication.

Yesterday afternoon Carmody refused to step aside from presiding over an inquiry into child protection, which includes the notorious Heiner Affair, after ruling that the Crime Commission he headed was not “government”.

Under Section 3E of the terms of reference of the inquiry, Carmody’s commission is instructed to look into the government’s response to the alleged sexual assault of children at detention centres in Queensland.

The Heiner Affair involves the pack rape of a 14-year-old Aboriginal girl while she was a ward of the state juvenile system and an inmate at the John Oxley youth detention centre, and the subsequent shredding of documents relating to the rape that had been provided to former magistrate Noel Heiner as part of an inquiry he was conducting.

His ability to effectively examine his own role in the Heiner Affair was called into question by legal counsel Michael Bosscher, acting for former union official and chief whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg and respected former journalist Bruce Grundy.

When Carmody was head of the Crime Commission between 1997 and 2001, the Heiner allegations were referred to him directly but no action was taken.

Bosscher submitted that Carmody could end up judging his own response to the affair if he was allowed to preside over the 3E part of the inquiry.

In his ruling on the recusal application, Carmody said he interpreted the term government to refer to the political executive or the premier and his cabinet.

“Recusal is not a step to be taken lightly,” he said.

He had earlier told the hearing that some previous inquiry commissioners were too quick to remove themselves.

“All you had to do once was use the word bias and everyone threw up their hands and ran away,” he said.

“If you did that enough you end up with the judge you want. It’s more a process of exclusion.

“We’ve got a duty to sit if it’s appropriate rather than be too quick to disqualify ourselves because obviously the state has got an investment.”

Grundy said the crime commission should be considered part of the government and should be investigated for its response to allegations of sexual abuse.

“You are not in a position in my estimation to consider your response; someone else should consider your response if we are to have faith in the inquiry,” he said.

Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie should read Carmody’s ruling and weep unless it was always their intention to continue the cover-up of the Heiner Affair.

Taken on face value, Carmody’s ruling means that the police are not government, the courts are not government, the welfare department is not government – government is a handful of people.

Tell that to the people and see what they say when they stop laughing.

They will justifiably claim that the government exists in every arm and organ that is funded by the taxpayer – not just at the highest executive level.

Carmody’s ruling duds the taxpayers and thwarts the intent of the premier who made the Heiner investigation an election promise - unless Newman never intended justice to prevail.

For it to be shut down by process now is a joke on Queenslanders and Australians who want to see an end to this 22-year-old scandal.


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