Timothy Wilson Comments: Next Governor-General Announced

At a press conference yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Tony Abbot announced Peter Cosgrove, former defence force chief as the next governor-general.ac-cosgrove-main-20140128125234698956-620x349

General Cosgrove told reporters at Parliament House yesterday that “My approach to this job will be of course as I’ve approached all those times when I’ve been asked to serve Australia,”

“It will get my total commitment, all the energy I’ve got, good humour, and with an unfailing optimism that this is a great nation which will only get better.”

Mr Abbott has paid tribute to General Cosgrove’s long military service, saying he cannot think of a better person to take on the role of governor-general. General Cosgrove during the Howard Government led peacekeeping forces in East Timor and received the Military Cross for bravery in Vietnam.

General Cosgrove will commence his five-year term in March when Ms Quentin Bryce stands down.

General Cosgrove has said he will be avoiding entering political debate unlike his predecessor, Ms Bryce, who has spoken out in favour of gay marriage and an Australian republic.

General Cosgrove said, “You are no longer a private citizen in the office of governor-general,”

“I think your responsibility is to shine light but not generate heat.”

“I think you’ve got to listen a lot, and take in everything you see.”

“But you’re not a participant in the political process.”

Read the full story here: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/general-peter-cosgrove-named-australias-next-governorgeneral-20140128-31k22.html

Congratulations to General Cosgrove on the appointment as the next governor-general.

What do you think about General Cosgrove’s comments and perspective on the role of the governor-general? Have your say below.


Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

James Howell: Can you Beliebe It?

ImageJames Howell Comments: 

So it has finally happened. After months of media speculation and bizarre behaviour, Justin Bieber has been arrested in Miami. The 19 year old pop singer was arrested for speeding, driving under the influence and resisting arrest. He was released on bail and will face court again at a later date. 

The Canadian singer faces a maximum of six months in jail if found guilty. Under Florida law, people under the age of 21 are considered driving under the influenceif they have a blood-alcohol content of .02 per cent or more – a level Bieber could reach with one drink. For a first DUI, there is no minimum sentence and a maximum of six months, a fine of $US250 to $US500, and 50 hours of community service. For anyone under 21, there is an automatic six-month license suspension.

News of Bieber’s arrest hardly comes as a surprise. What is a surprise is the lack of intervention from his friends and family to try and prevent this sort of inevitable incident from occurring. It has been suggested that they have tried to help out the young pop singer and he won’t take their advice, but if something is not done soon the young singer’s life will be confined to a cell or worse. Drug and alcohol addiction reaches far beyond the wealthy and famous and unfortunately often has the consequence of bringing otherwise good people before the judicial system for their intoxicated behaviour and actions. 

For more on Justin Bieber’s arrest read here. http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/justin-bieber-arrested-for-drag-racing-and-driving-under-the-influence-in-miami-beach-reports-say/story-fnk822dn-1226809079341

Timothy Wilson Comments: New late-night alcohol laws in Sydney CBD

ImageThe Australian Hotels Association has voiced its scepticism about law reform regarding lockouts in the Sydney city centre and mandated “last drinks” at 3am, announced by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell yesterday.

The premier also signalled the closure of bottle shops after 10pm.

The organisation expects the call of last drinks in the early hours to push the intoxicated crowd out to the street.

“We do not believe tens of thousands of people will stay in licensed premises past 3am once alcohol is no longer served, but will instead be out on the streets looking for a way home. The government will need to address this new issue. “

Premier O’Farrell defended his decision, claiming partygoers will not be forced onto the street and can remain in venues.

The Australian Hotels Association has concerns these reforms will also have a negative impact on businesses.

Read the full story here and find out more about the details of the Premier’s plans: http://www.news.com.au/national/fears-over-new-latenight-alcohol-laws-in-sydney-cbd/story-fncynjr2-1226806881876



Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk

James Howell Comments: A game of ‘chicken’ with the judiciary


Today notorious broadcaster Derryn Hinch has publicly declared that he will not be paying a $100,000.00 fine due yesterday for breaching a suppression order about Melbourne woman Jill Meagher’s killer.

Hinch commented on Thursday, “On principle I will not pay the $100,000 fine which was due today……Instead, I’ll go to gaol.”

Hinch was found guilty of contempt for breaching a suppression order made by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle. It was his sixth offence of this kind and he has previously been sentenced to 12 days gaol in 1987 for similar conduct regarding comments made whilst a suppression order was in place.

Although the actions of Mr Hinch may be appealing to those who have little regard for the persons who’s case Mr Hinch comments, most commonly alleged or convicted rapists and killers; it is important to remember that even those charged with the gravest offences deserve the right to a fair process, be it a trial or sentence hearing, as do those who are alleged victims of such crimes.

In sentencing Hinch in October, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye said the former broadcaster’s web posts had been populist and self-serving.

“Your conduct was grossly irresponsible,” Justice Kaye told Hinch. “Although you thought you knew better than Justice Nettle, clearly you did not.

“What do you think about Mr Hinch’s actions? One thing is almost certain, he will be going to gaol to prove his point.

James F. Howell

Timothy Wilson Comments: Victorian Juror charged with ‘Playing Detective’

ImageA juror has been charged with illegally playing detective during a criminal trial.

Mr Dieter Schmitz, 47, appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday accused of conducting research when a juror in a County Court trial on or about December 6, 2012, into a matter relevant to the trial without the authorisation of the trial judge. No details were given about the trial or the actions of mr Schmitz.

Under the Juries Act, a juror “must not make an enquiry for the purpose of obtaining information about a party to the trial or any matter relevant to the trial, except in the proper exercise of his or her functions as a juror”. This includes  conducting any research by any means such as using the internet to search an electronic database for information or consulting another person.

The maximum penalty for the charge, under the Juries Act 2000 (VIC), is a fine of 120 penalty units ($17,323.20)

In the current day and age the legal system struggles to combat and prevent jurors from doing acts such as this. Is media exposure and access to information and technology in the 21st century jeopardising the right a fair trial?

Read the full story here.



Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk


One of Canada’s most prestigious violinists is battling the Canada Border Services Agency in Federal Court after he was fined $120,000 for failing to declare nearly half a million dollars in musical instruments.

Yosuke Kawasakiclaims when he was crossing the border into Canada in 2012 the CBSA wrongfully seized his $385,000 violin and three bows worth $90,000, $6,800 and $2,000 each.

 The Japanese-American musician, who was born and trained in New York, is currently concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and travels extensively to perform around the world.

 According to court documents filed in Vancouver in December 2013, Yosuke was fined $120,950 plus PST for failing to declare the instruments at the Lansdowne crossing on Dec. 11, 2012. He then paid a $20,000 partial payment for the release of the instruments a few weeks later.

Kawasaki wouldn’t comment when contacted by CBC News, but court document indicate he is asking to have the fine revoked and deposit refunded on the basis that he had the right to import his pricey violin and bows duty free because he entered Canada as a settler, and because of the terms of the Schedule to the Customs Tariff.

Full story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/violinist-yosuke-kawasaki-fights-120k-fine-for-antique-violin-1.2494613.

Amazing Court Rooms – New Zealand Supreme Court

Amazing Court Rooms - New Zealand Supreme Court

Beautiful Court Architecture – The New Zealand Supreme Court – one of the most beautiful court interiors anywhere. Thought it’s exterior isn’t necessarily the most innovative or inspired – like so many court exteriors, it doesn’t live up to the aspirational statement made by the interior. In that regard, it joins the goodly company of the Australian High Court.

James Howell Comments – New Jersey Bridge Scandal

James Howell Comments:

653333830Amazing news out of the United States in the last twenty-four hours has a senior political figure clinging on to his position. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has sacked a top aide in response to a scandal that has the potential to thwart one of the US Republican Party’s greatest hopes for the 2016 presidential election. Mr Christie, a Republican, sacked his deputy chief of staff after emails revealed that aides in his office had closed down lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September, apparently to punish the people of Fort Lee after its Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, refused to endorse the Governor in the recent state election.

The lane closure caused massive traffic jams for four days that stalled commuters, school buses and ambulances in hours-long delays on the bridge that links New York to New Jersey. There have been reports that up to four emergency service vehicles were unable to reach incidents, including one where a ninety one year old woman died.

In America’s world of sensationalist politics nothing comes as a surprise any more, but this big even by their standards. If politics has reached a point whereby your political enemies cause huge disruptions to thousands of citizens in one of the world’s major cities just to prove a point, then it is time to seriously evaluate the system and those who are in charge.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/embarrassed-and-humiliated-new-jersey-governor-chris-christie-apologises-for-bridge-scandal-20140110-hv7zi.html#ixzz2pwUEY5Vw


James F. Howell
Senior Associate