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Aug 17, 2015

How was Heydon to know event was a Liberal fundraiser? Let us count the ways ...

How could Dyson Heydon possibly have know the lecture he was to give was a fundraiser for the Liberals? Let's start with the numerous emails he replied to that said so ...


Former High Court Justice Dyson Heydon this morning claimed he had overlooked initial emails stating that the annual Sir Garfield Barwick Address he had agreed to give was a Liberal Party event, despite several emails mentioning the party’s association with the event.

Heydon, currently overseeing the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption, is facing pressure to resign his role after Fairfax revealed last week that Heydon would be delivering the address later this month.

Emails released last week initially indicated Heydon had pulled out of the address on the day the story broke — but before publication — because the dinner event could be seen to be a party political event. The government argues it is not a fundraiser because at $80 a head, it isn’t raising much in the way of funds for the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is seeking to have Heydon removed from the commission and today sought other emails related to Heydon’s decision to give the lecture. This morning Heydon argued he had “overlooked the connection between the person or persons organising the event and the Liberal Party of Australia” in a March 2015 confirmation email. Heydon agreed to speak in April 2014, at which time the royal commission was expected to finish up in December 2014. The commission is now due to report in December 2015.

The April 2014 email reveals a number of mentions of the Liberal Party’s association with the event.

“I am chair of one of the lawyer branches of the Liberal Party NSW Division,” the third paragraph of Gregory Burton’s email states. “Although we are formally a branch of the party, our aim is to be a liberal-minded ‘bridge’ to the profession rather than overtly party-political (although we trust we show the party in a favourable light!)”.

The email goes on to state that Attorney-General George Brandis and former prime minister John Howard have given the address in the past.

Heydon began scoping topics of discussion for the speech in March this year. The event will be held in August, and he wanted to give the address around the topics of “the judicial stature of Chief Justice Barwick  viewed in the modern perspective”.

In June, after the date had been settled, Burton sent Heydon a copy of the “save the date” invitation. The subject of the email started with “FW: Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division)-Lawyers’ Branch and Legal Policy Branch”. Heydon has said he did not see the attachment to the email, which includes a prominent logo for the Liberal Party.

The event invite also allows for people unable to attend the dinner to make a donation to the Liberal Party.

Heydon is expected to address the issue at a hearing of the commission at 4pm today. The ACTU has written to the Prime Minister calling for Heydon to be sacked. In the meantime, Labor is using question time to put pressure on the federal government to sack Heydon from the commission.


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21 thoughts on “How was Heydon to know event was a Liberal fundraiser? Let us count the ways …

  1. MJPC

    Does anyone know if the Hon. is a member of the Liberal Party? This is one line of questioning that seems not have been pursued yet needs to be asked.

  2. tonysee

    The bar is low here. Even if Heydon had no idea of the link with the Liberal Party — which, more and more, seems to strain credulity — by his own standards he should stand down because of the perception of partiality. You’ve talked the talk, Dyson, it’s time to walk the walk.

  3. Ross Carnsew

    Didn’t Brandis get an invite and declined, due to workload. What did Brandis think when he saw who the guest speaker would be. “Oh look, it’s my man!”

  4. Venise Alstergren

    Dyson Heydon is, not to put too fine a point on it, an unmitigated liar. Am I seriously being asked to believe this organisation-had it been held by a fundamentalist pro-Marxist Party, with an address in Lubyanka prison, Dyson Heydon would have turned up to deliver the evening’s entertainment? Give over Mr Heydon.

  5. Venise Alstergren

    Dyson Heydon is, not to put too fine a point on it, a questionable evader of the truth. Am I seriously being asked to believe this organisation-had it been held by a fundamentalist pro-Marxist Party, with an address in Lubyanka prison, Dyson Heydon would have turned up to deliver the evening’s entertainment? Give over Mr Heydon.

  6. bushby jane

    Especially now that it seems he was on the selection panel who gave a Rhodes scholarship to Tony abbott in the 80s.

  7. Ross Carnsew

    Heydons’ recollection differs from Nutts version that he gave to the press. Anyone heard from Nutt today? By god, this is fun!

  8. Ross Carnsew

    And the best bit is the Tories have no defence other than to spout that the man is brilliant and beyond criticism. Watched him today…. How many millions for this stumbling goose. Or maybe he’sjust utterly rattled.

  9. Ross Carnsew

    Finally found the right word…Putz!

  10. Itsarort

    I’m pretty sure that neither Deane nor Kirby have lectured at official Labor functions in their capacity as High Court judges.

  11. Venise Alstergren

    BUSHBY JANE: (6) Ho ho ho ho! Thank God for those who have excellent memories.

  12. Liamj

    Its great to have this window on how the Libs tag-team privilege down through the generations. Impartial law? Yeah, right..

  13. Tony Thomas

    Mr Heydon appears to be somewhat of an unreliable witness to his own activities.

  14. Bohemian

    What is the issue here – that criminal behaviour should be allowed to be overlooked on a technicality or what?

    My reading is that Heydon who is a Liberal (so what they all get their mates in these jobs – imagine who the Labor Party would have appointed), agreed to do the show because he thought the RC thing would be over well before. It wasn’t so when it was brought his attention he pulled out.

    It is unlikely that he would be any more or less impartial than anyone else – come on they are all some way politically tainted but the bleeding obvious is unlikely to make much difference.Storm in a teacup when there is so much more to get het up about. I cannot believe the trivia you guys pursue with gusto! The place is falling apart because no one can make a decision and the misread on domestic and international politics is running at about 85%..write about that for hecks sake. This is crap! Oh in my view of course.

  15. Annie

    It would appear the idol of the event is no saint either.

    The questions I want answered I want are:
    How many $$ have been raised at previous Barwick events?
    Has Dyson Heydon attended any previous Barwick events?

  16. sang froid

    An early christmas for Shorten?

  17. SnowyB

    The second paragraph of the original email acknowledges that Heydon had put a qualifier on his acceptance: ” if the Commission has completed”.

    It is odd that this point has not been used earlier to retract from the acceptance to speak.

  18. Venise Alstergren

    BOHEMIAN:Yes, you could call it trivia. However, such is the abysmal-and venal- triviality put out by Tony Abbott ét sons freres, we can only assume this to be the latest way of getting to the electorate.

  19. Ross Carnsew

    Bohemian: Read Heydons views on the PERCEPTION of conflict of interest. It’s not very long. Done? good. Now explain to all of us why he is wrong. Putz.

  20. Bob's Uncle

    Following release of further emails, surely the original “9.23am” email from his assistant – stating WTTE he couldn’t attend if there was any suggestion it was a Liberal party event – can only be seen as a clumsy self-serving attempt at misleading the public.

  21. shea mcduff

    Can anybody fill in the gap please?

    As far as I can find out these are the speakers for the 5 Liberal Party sponsored Sir Garfield Barwick Annual events held so far.

    2010 George Brandis – Liberal Senator
    2011 Bob Ellicott – Liberal politician
    2012 Tom Hughes – Liberal politician
    2013 …..
    2014 Murray Gleeson
    2015 Dyson Heydon – scheduled.

    I just can’t find out who got the gig in 2013.


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