Public deserves right to pass judgment on courts

Today in The Australian

Last month, the NSW Land and Environment Court ruled against a proposed coalmine at Rocky Hill in a decision I criticised in these pages. Since then, public debate about that decision, which is likely to have far-reaching effects, has been astonishingly muted.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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15 Responses to Public deserves right to pass judgment on courts

  1. Up The Workers!

    Like the recent “Get Pell” decision which was made – not only in the absence of evidence – but despite the evidence of his absence.

  2. stackja

    The public, voters, should be the ultimate judges. If voters don’t voice their opinions, then judges will continue to make unfortunate judgement.

  3. 2dogs

    FOCJ for the judicial system. It is the only way to fix it.

  4. Shy Ted

    No time to discuss it, too busy discussing MAFS, Trumbull’ unfair sacking, misogyny, bullying in the liberal party, climate change, transgenderism and other ABC topics.

  5. Tabitha N

    Of course they do.

    The opening statement from an article in The Deakin Law Review: “Any society that claims to operate a system of open justice should expect, if not encourage, scrutiny and discussion of court decisions.

    Gillard took a swipe at a court decision and at a High Court judge, no less: “Gillard is within her rights to query the court”

    “The courts of justice are not immune from public criticism.” – Malcolm Turnbull (even Malc got it right once in a while).

  6. Todd Myers

    The issue is that nobody (apart from a small number of us connected to the coal mining industry) cares. After decades of green propoganda about mythical green jerbs (even painting low productivity as a good thing because “more jerbs” – ignoring that this just means higher prices), the connection between our wellbeing, employment, wage increases and economic development activities is not clear in people’s minds at all. Government obfuscation has not helped either.

  7. Dr Fred Lenin

    All judges are public employees , public SERVANTS , they shoul d all be on one year contracts with performance based salaries and conditions . They should all have self funded super and only the old age pension , means tested . Vote every sitting member last on your ballot paper , put the wind uo the elites

  8. Speedbox

    You and I and Henry may think its a big deal but the overwhelming majority of Australians would not have even heard of the decision. Todd’s comments up-thread are correct in that the masses are more focused on the mundane and get most of their news from the mainstream media or social sources (Twitter et al). If its not ‘trending’, they neither know, or care.

    Australia = too stupid to survive.

  9. yarpos

    Im astonished that Henry is astonished. Shows how far he is temoved from the bulk of Australians who wouldnt have this on what passes for their radar. They may have seen a headline if they are among the few who read or see the news, but give the indoctrination they have had via education and the MSM its sort of what they expect to hear, so no probs.

    I imagine some senior pollies are squirming at the Pell decision. If he/she said vs he said can get a conviction then a few skeletons may emerge from the closet.

  10. How can there be dissenting opinion when it is totally ignored and therefore not reported by the MSM? Everyone therefore assumes that they are the only person who is against this decision and as they think they are in isolation on this simply shrug their shoulders in amazement and move on!

  11. Louis

    I think people don’t understand the level of arrogance in the judiciary. You would be hard pressed to find a recently appointed judge that doesn’t believe society should be rule by philosopher Kings, of which they see themselves as the most eligible candidates. These a people who truly believe in the halo effect, in that their superior knowledge of law translates to their having superior knowledge in all things.

    It’s like the junk bonds of a few years ago. You take a bunch of junk bonds, bundle them together and then create 3 tranches. Somehow from that process you have now created AAA stuff in the first tranche…even though it started out as junk. Now think of the public opinion of lawyers (which as a lawyer I can say is pretty accurate). From that group of lawyers we pick judges. Somehow in the transformation from lawyer to judge you become this high moral, ethical, unbiased, apolitical, super intelligent, all seeing uber human.

  12. Dr Fred Lenin

    Louis, Putting them on annual contracsts with performance based salaries and no super or pension might bring tham back to reality ,that and a couple of hours a night in the pub with Real people might improve their attitude , being arrogant in the pub is not conducive to good health .

  13. Squirrel

    “Since then, public debate about that decision, which is likely to have far-reaching effects, has been astonishingly muted…..”

    ….and will remain muted so long as the magic money from mining and other unfashionable activities keeps rolling in to fund the entitled lifestyles of many Australians.

    The unspoken national compact is that the job of governments is to launder the revenue they extract (however ineptly) from mining etc. and “invest” it in all the lovely, feel-good things which Australians vote for, while at the same time professing themselves to “be passionate about the environment” and really angry about politicians who aren’t serious about climate change, because “we need to think about future generations” (even though we are leaving them a fiscal catastrophe, but that’s different).

    Should this cosy arrangement be disrupted, there’ll be lots of screaming and yelling and it won’t be at all pretty as an enraged populace looks for someone (else) to blame, and turns over governments at a rate which makes the current circus look absolutely stolid.

  14. Tintarella di Luna

    There are only three things a government has the consent of the people to do: 1. Keep the citizens safe, 2. Dispense Justice (without an adjective) and protect property rights — that’s why governments are on the nose they are incompetent at doing those things and the elected representatives do not represent their constituents, they represent themselves.

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