Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson has resigned, delivering a scorching letter to Attorney-General George Brandis in the wake of Gleeson’s demonstration that Brandis misled Parliament and personal attacks on Gleeson by Coalition senators.

Citing the need for the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General to work closely together, Gleeson advised Brandis of his resignation on Monday, saying “I make it perfectly plain that my motivation is solely to further the best interests of the Commonwealth by enabling the restoration of a functional working relationship between the first and second Law Officers”.

[Just what is the Solicitor-General, anyway?]

That relationship was irretrievably broken when Brandis, without consulting Gleeson, issued a direction attempting to regulate access to Gleeson that was both beyond the Attorney-General’s powers and had been made without consultation with Gleeson. A Senate inquiry is currently underway into the issue, and both Gleeson’s submission and his evidence to the committee made clear that Brandis had indeed failed to consult him, confirming Brandis had misled the Senate in claiming to have done so. Gleeson was the subject of repeated criticisms and commentary by Coalition senators during his evidence.

Gleeson goes on to tell Brandis in his letter:

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I also make perfectly plain that I reject absolutely each and every attack and insinuation that has been made in recent times upon my personally, or upon my office, by Government members of Parliament, including you, in the Senate Committee processes.”

Brandis himself continues to insist, in the face of evidence, that he consulted with Gleeson and that he can define “consult” to mean what he wants.

Peter Fray

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