Three Turnbull government ministers yesterday withdrew their most contentious criticisms of the Victorian judiciary’s handling of terrorism sentences but refused to apologise to the Court of Appeal, leaving open the threat of contempt charges.
Ministers Greg Hunt, Michael Sukkar and Alan Tudge retracted their accusations against the judiciary, signalling regret after this week dismissing Victorian judges as handing down light sentences on terror as part of “ideological experiments’’.
It turned out that three ministers of the Crown – duly elected members of the Parliament – were forced to apologise to the Victorian judiciary. But now the High Court has ruled:
Terrorists, rapists, pedophiles and other criminals in Victoria have been handed overly lenient sentences because some of the state’s judges have been incorrectly interpreting the law, a landmark High Court decision has revealed.
The High Court has this morning unanimously ruled that a five-and-a-half-year maximum prison sentence handed to a man who sexually abused his de facto partner’s two daughters was “manifestly inadequate” and should have been corrected by the Victorian Court of Appeal.
Is that the same Victorian Court of Appeal that got criticised by MPs? Apparently so. If the Turnbull government had any backbone whatsoever it would arrange for several Dorothy Dixers in Question Time to raise this very issue.