After being repeatedly criticised for his attacks on judges and his draconian legislation, Attorney-General of Queensland Jarrod Bleijie has lost the confidence of the legal profession and the community.
The departing Solicitor-General of Queensland, Walter Sofronoff, one of our state’s most senior law officers, has called on Mr Bleijie to resign after Mr Bleijie made public the contents of a confidential discussion between him and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice McMurdo, in order to make a political point.
To quote from Mr Sofronoff’s public letter:
“By his statement, evidently made solely to embarrass and undermine the President of the Court of Appeal, he has rendered it impossible for anybody to offer him honest and candid advice in confidence since he has shown that he is prepared to betray his confidence if he thinks that to do so might gain him momentary personal advantage. Indeed, it can be noted that if a public servant had been present at that conference and had revealed the content of the discussion, he or she would have committed an offence because the statutes of Queensland impose duties of secrecy upon public servants in relation to confidential matters learned in the course of duties and they impose criminal punishment for breaches.
"In my opinion, the conduct of Mr Bleijie constitutes a breach of his duty as Attorney General to keep confidential the content of discussions which were held in confidence. It has also prejudiced his capacity to carry out one of the duties of his office. Queensland deserves much, much better from its first law officer. “
The President of the Law and Justice Institute of Queensland, Peter Callaghan SC, is quoted as saying that Mr Bleijie’s actions raise a “legitimate question about what it means to be an Attorney-General within a Westminster government”.
The President of the Bar Association of Queensland is quoted as saying that he believes Mr Bleijie has committed an error of judgment.
To protect our Westminister system, to stop these attacks on our judges and lawyers, to protect public administration in Queensland, there is one solution: Premier Campbell Newman should demand Mr Bleijie’s resignation.