Brandis must resign or Turnbull must sack him

Today’s Senate inquiry has put beyond doubt that Senator Brandis has destroyed the integrity of the office of the Solicitor-General and knowingly misled the Senate. He must resign.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS MUST RESIGN OR TURNBULL MUST SACK HIM

Today’s Senate inquiry has put beyond doubt that Senator Brandis has destroyed the integrity of the office of the Solicitor-General and knowingly misled the Senate. He must resign.

Senator Brandis - through his own inexcusable actions - has made his own position untenable.

If he does not resign, then Prime Minister Turnbull must live by the standard he has set himself and sack him.

Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, in an appearance at the Senate committee today, could not have been clearer in establishing the following facts:

  • Senator Brandis’ statement to Parliament that the Solicitor-General was consulted about the Legal Services Direction “was not an accurate statement”.

  • He was not consulted, in any way, about the Legal Services Direction that was issued on 4 May;

  • Senator Brandis said he had received Mr Gleeson’s advice on the constitutionality of the final version of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 when in fact he had not;

  • Mr Gleeson’s ability to do his job, without impediment or interference, has been severely compromised.

Senator Brandis has now, on repeated occasions, knowingly misled the Senate with his statements that he has in fact consulted the Solicitor-General. After today’s Senate hearing we now know, beyond doubt, that is not true.

Misleading the Australian Parliament is one of the most serious offenses an elected official can commit.

The Prime Minister himself has said MPs who mislead the Parliament should resign:

That is an offence that should result in the dismissal or resignation of a minister. It is perfectly clear.

[Turnbull - Doorstop, 23 June 2009]

On top of this egregious act, Senator Brandis has destroyed Mr Gleeson’s ability to do his job. In his own words, Mr Gleeson has now been put in a position where he must either respond to urgent advice requests and disobey the Legal Services Direction, or turn away those who are requesting his advice. This is clearly unacceptable.

The treatment of Mr Gleeson by coalition senators today has been disrespectful and disgusting. But perhaps it is not surprising, given Senator Brandis’s comprehensive effort to undermine the office of Solicitor-General has already been made clear.

Senator Brandis agreed in today’s hearing that misleading the Parliament is a “sackable offence”. If Senator Brandis has any integrity, any respect for the rule of law, and any belief in the importance of the office of the Solicitor-General, he would resign today.

If Prime Minister Turnbull had any backbone, he would have sacked him already. 

FRIDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2016