More expensive litigation to be funded by taxpayers under “laissez faire” Attorney General

Shadow Attorney General Nick Goiran has once again called on Premier McGowan to put his friendship with John Quigley aside and remove him as Attorney General following revelations that there is to be a sequel in the curious case of the Magistrate vs the Judge.

“West Aussie taxpayers will once again be forced to pick up the tab for expensive legal fees created in part as a result of the Premier continuing to allow his retiring friend Mr Quigley the luxury of remaining in his Ministerial departure lounge.”

In 2021 Children’s Court Magistrate Catherine Crawford lodged a writ in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Children’s Court President Hylton Quail who had been seeking to have her transferred from the Children’s Court to the Magistrates Court. In the first two days of the trial in October 2021, the Court heard explosive allegations of evidence tampering and bullying.

It is understood that the matter was settled on a confidential basis with the trial discontinued and the Magistrate continuing in her full-time role in the Magistrates Court, albeit in metropolitan locations away from the central chambers in Perth.

Following persistent parliamentary questions from Mr Goiran, the Attorney General was forced to finally reveal to the one parliamentary committee not controlled by the Government that “the total costs in relation to the Crawford v Quail matter are

However, the ongoing feud is now headed to the High Court.

“It is difficult to contemplate signs of greater dysfunction within a State’s justice system than to have a Children’s Court Magistrate allege “bullying” by her boss and for him in turn to allege that she had tampered with evidence, all while the Attorney General does nothing about these allegations”, stated Mr Goiran.

While the original “Crawford v Quail” case was on foot, the McGowan Labor Government introduced a Bill to enable the President of the Children’s Court to, amongst other things, inform the Chief Magistrate that a particular Magistrate was no longer needed.

With the Law Society and others expressing concerns about the Bill, the Opposition sought to have it referred to the Standing Committee on Legislation. The Government used its numbers to defeat the referral resulting in that Committee continuing to never have had a single Bill referred to it in the current 41st Parliament.

Magistrate Crawford’s High Court Writ claims that the powers granted to the Children’s Court President in this new legislation (Courts Legislation Amendment (Magistrates) Act 2022), “impair and detract from the reality and appearance of the independence” of the courts and “the institutional integrity of those courts.”

“While this sequel plays out in the High Court, three questions need answering. How much will this cost taxpayers? When will the allegations of evidence tampering and bullying be addressed? When will the Government introduce a Bill to create a Judicial Commission which it has delayed for more than 5 years?” asked Mr Goiran.

“The problem is that whenever these questions are asked both Mr McGowan and Mr Quigley run and hide being their favourite political shield pleading the right to silence while a matter is before the courts.

“This begs the question, where have they been? Why have they been so derelict in their duty to allow this judicial human resource dispute to reach this level? And in any event, how can they possibly allow allegations made in open court of evidence tampering and bullying to go unaddressed? If they are true, then individuals need to be removed. If they are false, then individuals need to be removed. What cannot happen, is nothing.”

Meanwhile, the Premier and the Attorney General have continued to refuse to disclose how much they have spent on other high profile cases, including:

  1. The unfair dismissal claim brought by the Member for Kwinana’s former electorate officer;
  2. The Premier’s failed defence in the defamation claim of Mr Palmer; and
  3. The Premier’s optional cross-claim against Mr Palmer.

“Premier McGowan needs to stop the free flow of taxpayers’ money on extremely expensive avoidable court actions by removing his friend as Attorney General. Our State cannot afford this political luxury of someone remaining in a Ministerial departure lounge. Sadly for our justice system this is just the latest episode demonstrating that he is no longer up to the task.” said Mr Goiran.