Lisa Davies June 08, 2012
Kathy Jackson leaving court in Sydney today. Photo: Natalie Boog
HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson has personally told a Federal Court judge he should disqualify himself, arguing in court she had been denied procedural fairness.
It was an extraordinary morning on the last day of submissions into whether the HSUEast and the east branch of the federal HSU should be placed into administration.
In two hours, Ms Jackson sacked her lawyers, appointed a new one who then said he was unavailable, and made a string of adverse allegations about the conduct of the case so far, including the rejection of any need for an administrator until she had been heard in full.
As the case began, Ms Jackson's barrister Brett Shields told the court his instructions had been withdrawn, as had those of his instructing solicitors.
Instead barrister David Rofe, QC, who earlier in the week appeared for Ms Jackson's partner Michael Lawler, sought to have the case halted for a week to enable him to get on top of the material.
Justice Geoffrey Flick said he wanted to know whether the whole course of the case - previously agreed by all parties - was going to change, allowing Mr Rofe 15 minutes to take instructions from Ms Jackson.
He said he had already reached a view that an interim administrator should be appointed, with the former federal court judge Michael Moore the most likely candidate.
But after the brief adjournment, Mr Rofe said he would be withdrawing as Ms Jackson's counsel today, as the judge had not given him enough time to make such a decision.
"In 57 years of practising at the bar table I have never been put in such a position ... this is outrageous," Mr Rofe said.
Approaching the bar table herself, Ms Jackson said she wanted Justice Flick to disqualify himself, as there was an "apprehension of bias".
Ms Jackson said she wanted her affidavit of June 1 to be read in full by the court and said: "I want to call all the witnesses."
She said comments by the judge earlier in the week, critical of her attempts to contact his chambers, were "suggesting that I was guilty of serious misconduct ... the clear implication was that I was guilty of contempt".
After rejecting Ms Jackson's application that he exclude himself from the case, she tried a second time, saying she had been denied procedural fairness.
However, Justice Flick told her she could make that application again next Friday if she wished, when she would be given a full opportunity to argue for a new course of the case, including fresh witnesses and evidence.
Ms Jackson also alleged former Justice Moore was far too "connected" to Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten and the ALP to conduct his duties without an apprehension of unfairness.