18 & 19th March 2002


In Australia there are two major political parties, called "Liberals" and "Labour".  The "Liberals" are currently in power.  The peer elected leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives is called the "Prime Minister".  Australia's constitution requires parliament to recommend whom the Queen should appoint as "Governor General", a position somewhat like an emasculated President.  Australia's constitution also requires that parliament appoint the Justices of the High Court, which is the court of final appeal.

Prime Minister Howard recently recommended appointment of Bishop Hollywood (or somesuch) of Brisbane as Governor General (GG).  There is an accusation that while a Bishop the GG appointed an accused pederast to investigate charges against another cleric who was accused of pederasty.  Based on that charge, Labour party members have called for the GG to "stand aside" or resign.

On the other hand, more than a decade past a Labour government appointed admitted homosexual and refreshingly erudite Michael Kirby as a Justice to the High Court of Australia.

Last week a member of the government in the Senate charged (under Parliamentary privilege) that Justice Kirby has "trawled" the "wall".  The good senator has apparently obtained statutory declarations from an alleged Kirby client who claimed that he was under the age of consent when he was trawled by Justice Kirby.  He had also obtained an alleged record of use of a Government chauffeured car, that showed it had been used by J.Kirby to trawl the wall.

Of course the whole thing is politics.  By discrediting the GG, the PM is discredited.  By discrediting Kirby, the Labour party is discredited.

However, for the people of Australia, the situations have worrying similarities.  Those who found it wrong for the Bishop to appoint an accused (but unconvicted) pederast to judge others accused of pederasty should in all fairness be equally concerned that the people's appointee to the High Court, while accused but unconvicted of pederasty, might sit in judgment on pederasts.

It has nothing to do with Homophobia, and everything to do with fairness.

On the 19th March the good senator learned that the record of use of the government car was forged.  To his credit, he unreservedly withdrew his allegations.  To those who followed the incident, the institution of Parliamentary privilege has functioned perfectly.


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