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11 July, 2003  

Hullsey’s lucky night out … Federal Court shuffles … New Age guru guides workplace happiness at Blakes … annoying DPP loses life tenure in NSW … Roddy Meagher’s bulging art treasures

Winner takes all

Marvellous performance from Rob “Fuckin’” Hulls the other night. Yarraville’s Attorney General was guest of honour at the pro bono awards ceremony conducted by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

It was a 70s themed evening at the Trades Hall, which provided an unreconstructed ambiance that well suited the tone.

Importantly, among the awards presented by Fuckin’ was one to his father, Frank, a stalwart of the community law fraternity.

The AG then went on to win the raffle – a Myer gift voucher and a bottle of wine.

Rigging or stuffing of raffle boxes was vehemently denied. Fuckin’ insists he just bought a lot of tickets, in the celebrated Nick Bolkus fashion.

Federal Court shuffles

“Rowdy” Williams was pretty quick off the mark finding a Federal Court replacement for John von Doussa , who had been anointed President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The announcement was made on May 2 that von Doussa would take up his new job on June 10. Von D made it clear to Rowdy and to the court that his shift to HREOC was conditional on a replacement being made pronto.

Two days after von Doussa’s scheduled starting date in the new job, Williams announced that South Australian Supreme Court judge Bruce Lander’s will fill von Doussa’s vacancy in Adelaide.

That’s service for you, and pretty damn sprightly when you consider that Howard Olney retired from the Federal Court over seven weeks ago and there has still been no replacement for him in Melbourne. (Neil Young and John Morrison are rumoured to be among the contenders.)

Doug Drummond left the court’s Queensland contingent a good 12 weeks ago and the judges have been told that the government will not be making an appointment to replace him. Following John Dowsett’s appointment in 1998 the powers-that-be feel the Brisbane registry is overstocked with judicial talent.

It took over a year after Leslie Katz’s retirement for the government to fill his vacancy with Annabelle Bennett. That only happened after Kevin Lindgren in March made some noises that the efficient delivery of judgments was being adversely affected by the incredible delay in getting a new judge in Sydney.

Now the bad news is that Brian Beaumont is ill with cancer and has had to withdraw from three major native title cases, including a big claim affecting metropolitan Perth. However, he’s still taking work on his docket, so he’s not entirely out of action.

New Age Hugh

Hugh Keller, Blake Dawson Waldron’s take-no-prisoners litigator, showed a hitherto unexposed New Agedness in an article on workplace stress he penned for the latest edition of The Issues, Blake’s “flagship business publication”.

Tucked up the back behind articles on corporate governance, predatory pricing, personal liabilities of directors, etc, was Hugh’s revelation that people work better if they are happy and fulfilled at the office. The footnote declared that Hugh meditates daily and “studies arhatic yoga and esoteric practices”.

Can I share a bit more with you?

“The connection between the body’s energy systems and good health has been well known to practitioners of alternative healing modalities for many centuries. Equally, personal development and its link to consequent good health has been a central theme of the burgeoning self-transformation and personal healing industry for the past two decades.

Self fulfilment if accompanied by a strong sense of oneness with others and the divine is often described as spiritual growth.

Recent work undertaken by people such as Richard Barrett Ö seeks to maximise the alignment of employees’ self fulfilment aspirations with corporate goals.

Boards with foresight and leadership will ensure that a willingness to embrace accelerated personal growth is an essential characteristic of each member of their senior management team.”


Moo Cow

Great fulminations over Premier Bobsie Carr’s plan to have NSW Directors of Public Prosecutions in the saddle for only seven years, non renewable.

Current office holder, the international junketeer Lord Cowdery is appointed for life, or 72, which ever comes sooner – just like a Supreme Court judge and he’s paid the same as a Supreme Court judge.

Carr says his plan to limit future DPP appointments to a single seven year term corrects “an anomaly”.

Most other States have the same or a similar set-up and the Premier is not interfering with Lord Cowdery’s existing tenure, even though he gets cheesed off with His Lordship’s attacks on the government’s splendid sentencing and Laura Norda “policies”.

So what’s the Cow on about when he grumbles that the premier’s proposals are a retrograde step and run the risk of “endangering independence”? He said:

“There is the risk and the perception that the office holder would modify his or her otherwise appropriate conduct to please the political masters – the ones who make decisions about employment.”

How so if a DPP can get no more than seven years?

There was no mention of the fact that the two deputy DPPs are also “lifers”, so their independence must also be threatened should the legislative reform sweep them up as well.

What’s interesting, though, is that Carr didn’t think fit to correct the “anomaly” of the NSW Crime Commissioner’s appointment. That position is just as open ended as His Lordship’s, has no parliamentary oversight and exercises the powers of a standing royal commission.

Maybe the difference is that the Cow is too annoying for a government that’s far too pleased with itself.

Where am I?

What jolly japes they play on the NSW Court of Appeal. Roddy Meagher, of course, is the leading wag with his languid, arch and dismissive style. Now the others are playing up to him.

In JPQC Pty Ltd v Cosmaran Constructions Pty Ltd the court had to grapple with damages that arose from a bank approved quantity surveyor who was required to certify the correctness of progress claims submitted by the builders engaged by the respondents for a residential development at Bossley Park in Sydney’s west, past Fairfield.

The finding at trial was that every time the quantity surveyor certified as to the correctness of the progress report he made a negligent misrepresentation both as to the degree of completion of the works and the quality of the workmanship.

Well, Roddy’s little crack was in his first paragraph of the appeal judgment:

“The appellant in this case is a quantity surveyor against whom his Honour Judge Rolfe awarded a verdict of some $665,025.00 in favour of the four respondents, who together constituted a joint venture engaged in the development of certain land said to be situated at Bossley Park (wherever that is).”

Mason P, who agreed with Meagher’s reasons, took up the challenge:

“I have had the benefit of reading in draft the reasons of Meagher JA.

I also have the benefit of having access to a street directory. Accordingly, I do not share his Honour’s customary doubts about the location of well-known Sydney suburbs lying to the west of Darling Point which sit cheek by jowl with his Honour’s customary lack of doubts about most other matters. A useful resource for those who need to locate Bossley Park is By clicking on “map maker” one can find easy ways of getting from, say Darling Point to that suburb. (

Beazley JA also agreed with Meagher and with “the perspicuous remarks of Mason P”.

What a marvellous little wheeze.

He did it Meagher way

While on the subject of Meagher JA, can I direct you to a splendid review of the great man’s massive and eclectic collection of artworks?

The review is by Jesse Stein, daughter of recently retired Court of Appeal judge, Paul Stein and can be found at:

Entitled “Art, Law and Unrivalled Clutter: He did it Meagher Way”, young Stein reveals that in his collection Roddy possesses works by Braque, Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso, Leger, Renoir, Vuilliard, Whistler, Goya, Rodin, Matisse, Pissarro, and Australians Lloyd Rees, Russell Drysdale, Donald Friend, Brett Whiteley, Jeffrey Smart, Margaret Preston, Margaret Olley, Alison Rehfisch, John Glover, Sydney Long, Arthur Boyd, Elwyn Lynn, Eunice Napangka and Grace Cossington Smith.

It’s all so vast and so priceless that the cost of insurance is prohibitive.

The collection has spilled out the doors of his Darling Point home to the entire 12th floor of the Supreme Court building where paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and artefacts jostle for space in every available cranny.

Meagher retires from the court next year, so the art will have to go with him. It seems the ANU has agreed to house a large amount of it. Stein concludes:

“To conserve space and money, Meagher has promised himself that he will no longer buy art. In his chambers, an unframed Copley drawing rests on an easel. When questioned whether this is a new acquisition, he smiles guiltily and says nothing.”