The real Keating

Jock Webb writes: Re. “Vintage Keating rips into the monarchy, Liberals with classic chutzpah” (yesterday). Keating presided over a number of reforms and certainly laid the groundwork for a hell of a lot of what Costello claims. People do not realise this. The reason Keating deserves credit (certainly not for modesty) is that he had a clear vision of what he wanted Australia to become and that he could articulate. One that, in general, I agreed with. Gillard never got a chance and would not have been able to explain. Howard had absolutely no forward thinking and set the nation back decades. Keating, however, had an incredibly abrasive public persona and deserves smacking for too much nastiness in the parliament. He was better than that. Interestingly, one of my mates from the late 80s/early 90s had a very different view. He was a fairly senior public servant in Aboriginal education. He said that Keating was very pleasant in private.

On suppression orders

John Richardson writes: Re. “Vic judge’s suppression order spray ruffles legal eagle feathers” (yesterday). So, “No suppression order issued in Victoria’s Supreme Court is made without a valid reason. They are certainly never issued on ‘relatively weak grounds’ or ‘for good measure’,” says Victoria’s Chief Justice Marilyn Warren. Jason Bosland’s research showed that the most popular reason for a suppression order was to protect “the administration of justice” (ahem). More than 200 of the 383 suppression orders imposed since the Open Courts Act came into effect in 2013 were made on that basis, while 189 were made to protect the safety of witnesses and only four to protect national security.

Bosland said judges and magistrates were using the “administration of justice” ground more and more broadly, for example, suppressing evidence they deem so embarrassing that it might affect a witness’s willingness to give evidence if it were to be published. The whole point of the Open Courts Act was to rein-in the explosion in the use of suppression orders in Victoria to “strengthen & promote the principles of open justice and free communication of information”. What Bosland’s analysis demonstrates is that the legislative remedy has failed to achieve its stated purpose.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey