Day to Day Politics: Brandis is a control freak. – By John Lord

Thursday 27 October 2016

Power in the hands of people with chastisement in their hearts, authority on their minds, and control in their doing, do little for democracy. Control freaks usually cannot see beyond their own self-importance and are hostile to those who might threaten it.

Such a person is George Brandis, who sees the world through the prism of dominance, of muscle, privilege and rule. Through the possession and ownership of the dissemination of information and who has the right to peruse it.

Through his desire to control the Solicitor General, he has in effect destroyed yet another vestige of our parliamentary democracy. The statutory-defined independence of the Office of the Solicitor General is now forever tainted.

The only person willing to take on the vacant position will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a lackey of the right. A “yes” man or women.

Who would take on the position in the knowledge that it is not independent? That the Attorney General alone would decide on what you can and cannot give meaningful advice on.

One could argue that the office of Solicitor General is now redundant.

And of course any decision you arrived at would be seen to have had the Attorney Generals endorsement otherwise your job would be on the line.

From the beginning this unedifying event between Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, SC, the government’s chief lawyer and Attorney-General George Brandis has been about one man controlling what the other can say what he can give independent advice on.

If Brandis decided that Gleeson was likely to give advice contrary to his Governments view then he wouldn’t allow it.

It seems when you look at it the only advice this Government wants is advice that of concurrence.

Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon put it this way:

”It is pretty clear these days anyone who disagrees with this government, any professional public servant who gives frank and fair advice to this government, faces termination”.

”Once upon a time, misleading the house was considered a serious offence. When it ceases to become a serious offence, then our democracy and our parliamentary system is undermined”.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister said:

”We value immensely the very frank advice we get from the Australian Public Service.”

He must have been kidding of course.

Just ask Gillian Trigg’s, Justin Gleeson, Martin Parkinson, Don Russell, Blair Comely, Paul Grimes, Andrew Metcalfe, Paul Barret and many other public servants.

It’s a sad state of affairs when all you want to hear from a public servant is the reverberation of your own thoughts.

An observation.

”No one group should think they have an ownership of righteousness, or ideas for that matter”.

Last year Turnbull said:

”What we have to do in government in my view is stop panning public servants and do more to ensure that they do their job better”.

What he really meant was that public servants will now tell the minister what the minister wants to hear, rather than what they need to hear.

The seriousness of what control freak George Brandis wants to do cannot be underestimated. The community must have confidence in our legal system. Brandis is intent on destroying it for the sake of personal control.

He has also damaged the public service in so much as those highly qualified candidates wanting to work in the public service will now have second thoughts.

Lastly, as a well-recognised and highly successful lawyer the Prime Minister is complicit because he should know better that to allow this law. He should have sacked the Attorney General.

My thought for the day.

“We all have to make important decisions in our lives. None more important than the rejection of those things that tempt us into being somebody we are not. Be true to who you are”.