The following outburst just goes to show how unstable this man really is.
He needs to be committed for evaluation sooner rather than later.
The more he goes on the more obvious it is becoming that he is unstable and suffering from a mental disorder.
Now how does one get him removed and committed! that is what people should be looking into!!
The recent holidays have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of critics of the Government’s recent raft of criminal association legislation.
The Premier is feeling the pressure.
In response to the news that a Gold Coast law firm, attempting to interpret poorly drafted anti-association laws, advised their client they may be arrested if they attended a court hearing where other ‘bikies’ were present, Mr Newman said:
“They’re paid by criminal gangs, of course they’ll say and do anything to present their client in the best possible light, but their clients are criminals.
“These people are hired guns. They take money from people who sell drugs to our teenagers and young people. Yes, everybody’s got a right to be defended under the law but you’ve got to see it for what it is: they are part of the machine, part of the criminal gang machine, and they will see, say and do anything to defend their clients, and try and get them off and indeed progress … their dishonest case”.
Mr Newman has previously made it clear that he does not have much time for the legal profession, the judiciary or the rule of law in general. In the wake of criticism over legislation purporting to deal with sex offenders (legislation subsequently found to be invalid) he responded by calling lawyers “apologists for paedophiles”. He has also derided the profession as “self-interested”.
It appears that the whole justice system is a major inconvenience to him. A dangerous view in one with such power. We do not have to look too far through the history books to understand the impact of such beliefs on democracy.
Yet it is Mr Newman’s outburst yesterday that gives us our clearest insight yet into the mindset of Queensland’s Premier, and which succinctly illustrates his true contempt for our legal system and the rule of law.
He firstly complains: “They’re paid by criminal gangs, of course they’ll say and do anything to present their client in the best possible light, but their clients are criminals”.
The objection here appears to be not only that lawyers are paid at all, but a view that anyone merely charged with an anti association offence must as a matter of law be a ‘criminal’, specifically a drug dealer who sells drugs to teenagers and young people.
Neither of these views has any basis in reality and having them expressed by the Premier exposes Queensland to further ridicule from those already scornful of a legislature enacting and defending legislation they cannot fail to appreciate will be found invalid.
Mr Newman correctly acknowledges that most basic of rights in our criminal legal system namely that “everybody’s got a right to be defended under the law” before qualifying it with the incoherent statement “but you’ve got to see it for what it is: [lawyers] are part of the machine, the criminal gang machine”.
Does the Premier really believe everyone charged with a crime is automatically guilty? Or just those he has labelled a bikie? He also seems to be absurdly suggesting that in acting for a client in a criminal matter, any lawyer concerned becomes part of that criminal element.
And this is notwithstanding any issues around guilt.
These sorts of comments are more commonly heard in countries who do not operate within a democratic system.
He continues: “…they will see, say and do anything to defend their clients, and try and get them off and indeed progress … their dishonest case”.
The Bar Association of Queensland and the Queensland Law Society have called these comments ‘objectionable’ and ‘inappropriate’.
They are a disgrace and further, raise questions about Mr Newman in the senior and responsible position he presently occupies. The ethical duty owed by all legal practitioners to the Court is of paramount import in all matters in which they act, and if Mr Newman is of the view there are practitioners who do not adhere to their professional obligations he should address those concerns on an individual basis through the appropriate channels.
Indeed, it would be remiss of him not to do so, given the seriousness of such an allegation.
In this context, it is the Premier who appears to be willing to ‘see, do and say anything’ to defend his Government’s mis-conceived laws borne of a lack of consultation with the relevant stakeholders and naïve views about what is capable of curtailing organised crime.
There is an exquisite irony in Mr Newman rubbishing Tony Fitzgerald’s and Gary Crooke’s recent criticism by saying (in relation to Mr Fitzgerald) “I don’t think he is particularly being clear and analytical about what’s really going on”.
On the contrary. Mr Fitzgerald’s views are very clear, that “[a]rrogant, ill-informed politicians who cynically misuse the power of the state for personal or political benefit are a far greater threat to democracy than criminals, even organised gangs”.
The additional concern is not just the embarrassment all Queenslanders should feel at a Premier who does not appear to understand or respect the underpinnings of our legal system.
It is that in constantly deriding the legal system and profession, including the judiciary and esteemed former judges such as Tony Fitzgerald, Mr Newman is systematically undermining the very sense of justice in our State, and indeed respect for the rule of law in its entirety.
It is a cornerstone of democracy that citizens know they will be treated fairly by the legal system: have their charges sufficiently particularised, be presumed innocent until found guilty, and be entitled to a defence and representation.
The Premier’s comments yesterday have genuine capacity to diminish that faith and respect. And if belief in the legal system is diminished in our society, it is folly to believe it will be limited to criminal defence lawyers.
I have previously said publicly I am proud to be a lawyer, and my pride in our profession and the work I do has not been diminished by the Premier’s comments.
I doubt many of my colleagues would have a different view: indeed it is not lawyers, but rather those we serve in the broader community, who suffer most from the Premier’s sustained attacks upon the legal profession and the rule of law.
A ‘hired gun’ indeed.
* Michelle James is a Brisbane lawyer and Queensland President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance