T here is only one person standing between open warfare between Queensland’s judiciary and the Newman Government on the matter of the new laws to control bikie gangs – the Chief Justice, Paul de Jersey.
CJ de Jersey, both wily and wise, has been a Supreme Court justice since 1985 and got the top job in 1998. He has seen a succession of Premiers and Attorneys-General in his time and will undoubtedly see more before his scheduled retirement aged 70 in September, 2018.
Last weekend he did make some guarded comments about the controversy saying, “The public commentary bears a highly political flavour and thereby the courts should remain detached from that,” he said.
“(And) a challenge to the validity of the new (bikie) legislation could proceed in the Supreme Court, and that’s where challenges to grants of bail will be heard. (I) cannot by any public comment risk compromising the perceptions of the way in which the court discharges its duty in those situations,” he said.
The Chief Justice is first among equals and is not inclined to tell his fellow jurists what they can and cannot say even if he could but, clearly, his measured comments were aimed at them – in effect, he was telling Queensland judicial officers to pull their heads in.