This morning George Brandis’ most recent judicial selection will be formally appointed to the Federal Circuit Court in a ceremonial sitting in the NT Supreme Court in Darwin.
It has been a mixed few weeks for Darwin barrister Tony Young of William Forster Chambers. On 16 July 2015 Attorney-General George “Bookshelves” Brandis announced Young’s appointment–with the faintest of praise–as a judge of the Federal Circuit Court (previously known as the Federal Magistrates Court) based in Darwin. The Brandis presser did little more than rephrase the content of Young’s web-page at his chambers.
It is a curious appointment for several reasons, not least because Tony Young was, until recently at least, chair of the NT Environment Centre, which recently made a successful NT Supreme Court challenge, run by the local Environmental Defenders Office, to a series of decisions involving massive water allocations in the NT by the CLP government. As the NT Environment Centre media release noted at the time, the Federal Government has cut all funding to EDO’s across Australia, and the NT Government has cut all funding to the Environment Centre NT.
Six days after Brandis announced Young’s appointment Justice Stephen Southwood of the NT Supreme Court delivered his judgment in the matter of Lawrie & Wyvill v Lawler, the latest instalment in the NT Supreme Court action bought by former NT Labor Opposition leader Delia Lawrie against Commissioner John Lawler and his conduct of an inquiry into the proposed grant of a lease of Crown land to a local union group during the dying days of Labor’s administration in 2012.
Lawrie claimed that Lawler failed to accord her procedural fairness by not providing her with notice of any adverse findings made against her in his report. You can read my earlier pieces on this matter here, here and here.