Tim Carmody’s Child Protection Credentials Make Him Right Man for Chief Justice Role

By Hetty Johnston
The Courier-Mail
June 18, 2015

JUSTICE Peter McClellan AM, chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, stated in his very first public speech in the role that he thought he knew about child sexual assault. That was, however, before he was assigned to his current post, where he quickly realised how much he didn’t know or understand and the impact this crime has on victims, families and entire communities.

He pledged that all judges would be trained so they, too, could garner a better understanding.

In Queensland, Chief Justice Tim Carmody knows more about child protection than any other judge in the state because, like McClellan, he has dealt at close quarters with the victims and their families. This is why he is so valuable, and why his appointment is so widely supported – except by a few disgruntled peers.

He knows what some of his detractors do not, understands what they don’t – even if they think they do. He is a grassroots operator who can mend the divide between the courts and the people. He can rebuild confidence. He is an innovative reformist with a brilliant legal mind and extensive broadscale experience, and that is exactly what Queensland needs right now.

Carmody has served his community as a police officer, public defender, barrister, legal officer and special prosecutor in the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption.

An Adjunct Professor of law at QUT, he was awarded the centenary medal in 2003 for distinguished services to the law and the community. He was the Queensland Crime Commissioner, worked with the Australian Crime Commission, was a Judge on the Family Court of Australia, Chief Magistrate and was appointed Chair of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, referred to in media circles as the “Carmody inquiry”.

Chief Justice Tim Carmody with daughters Claire and Tess. Carmody knows more about child protection than any other judge in the state.

As a result of that lifetime of judicial commitment and demonstrated legal nous, he was legitimately and properly offered the role of Chief Justice. Again, he accepted because he knew the system needed reform. An entire life dedicated to the best interests of the community and to the protection of children.

Rather than be applauded for this assiduity, he is the target of a rancorous smear campaign executed unprofessionally by a handful of vindictive colleagues who believe his appointment in some way was not made on merit.

As The Courier-Mail journalist Des Houghton wrote on May 26: “other judges were appointed as political appointments. And separately Judges Philippides, Atkinson and Lyons were elevated to the Supreme Court amid controversy. Unlike Carmody they were shown respect and allowed to get on with their roles.”

The behaviour of some of his colleagues on the bench and other commentators amounts to workplace bullying which in any other environment would not be tolerated. There would be a hue and cry to stop to it.

Those aiming their sights at Carmody and engaging in antics akin to schoolyard bullying, sabotage and political engineering, are the ones who should resign. He is the solution, not the problem.

As a community, we shouldn’t sit passively on the sidelines watching the reputational destruction of a man who has dedicated his life to serve the community – the same community that quickly lost respect and confidence in their legal system because, too often, the decisions, the sentencing and the remarks from the bench were not in line with its expectations.

We as a community must stand up and defend those legal practitioners in the system who, through diligence and dedication, actually care about the people they’re paid to protect.

We must stand up in defence of our children and victims of a crime that will affect one in five Australians before their 18th birthday. We need to fight for their rights. It is our children who will pay the ultimate price if we fail to reclaim the legal system that is supposed to be there to defend – not bully.

The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke must have had Carmody in mind when he uttered that now famous line “all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men (people) to do nothing”. Carmody will never be content to do nothing.








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