Separation of powers questioned after council sacking
THE Queensland Law Society is questioning the separation of powers after Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe moved to dismiss Ipswich City Council in the midst of a legal challenge.
Society president Ken Taylor has written to Mr Hinchliffe and said new laws should "respect fundamental legislative principles and have sufficient regard for the institution of Parliament and our courts".
Barrister Tony Morris QC has likened the State Government's use of parliament to remove the council, while it was challenging the legal basis of the dismissal, to the Bjelke-Petersen era.
Mr Taylor said the Law Society, the leading voice of lawyers and law reform, said it was available to consult on the proposed Bill to remove the council.
He said it was "unusual that a government would fast-track laws" and said the legal community should be consulted about the new legislation.
"It's a situation where the minister had laws to deal with this issue and it looks like now he wants to change those laws," he said.
"We've asked the question why it needs to be fast-tracked - why it shouldn't go through the normal process?"
Mr Taylor says the decision to remove the council after it had challenged its dismissal seems to be "abandoning any stage of separation of powers".
"We're not aware of this happening in the last decade," he said.
"The question has to be asked why not wait for a (Supreme Court) decision?"
Mr Hinchliffe has previously justified his action and said the council was likely to drag the legal process out for several months, if not years.