Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has called a royal commission into Victoria Police following revelations a barrister for high-profile Melbourne criminals leaked information to police for several years. On Monday the Herald Sun reported ($) that criminal barrister “Lawyer X”, who represented organised crime figures such as Tony Mokbel and Pat Barbaro, informed on clients to police between 2005 and 2009. In a scathing judgement on Monday, the High Court authorised Victoria’s Department of Public Prosecutions to notify some convicted criminals their cases may have been tainted. The High Court called Victoria Police’s conduct “reprehensible” saying that “the prosecution of each convicted person was corrupted in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system”. In a letter published by The Age, Lawyer X said they “became aware of high-level drug trafficking, money laundering, witness tampering, firearm offences and a variety of other serious criminal activity” in 2005, and has “been forced to live day to day with a degree of hyper-vigilance and fear” as a result of their informing.
The federal Liberal Party has adopted new rules designed to circumvent leadership challenges against first-term prime ministers. Prime minister Scott Morrison called a surprise party-room meeting on Monday night, where MPs endorsed a rule that elected prime ministers can only be removed by a two-thirds majority of the party room in their first term. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was removed from power in August, dismissed as “absurd” claims from conservatives he was damaging the Liberal brand by speaking out, saying “I'm not a threat to Scott Morrison or anyone”.
Former national security legislation monitor Bret Walker has claimed home affairs minister Peter Dutton was “not up to the job” of overseeing Australia’s national security apparatus. Speaking to Guardian Australia, Walker criticised Dutton’s claim that federal Labor had walked away from a bipartisan approach to national security after dissenting over a proposed bill allowing law enforcement agencies to access encrypted communications. Labor has proposed an interim bill allowing use of the expanded powers for terror and child sex offences, while calling for more time to study the government bill’s likely impacts, including security backdoors into mobile phones and other devices.
And Independent MP Cathy McGowan has introduced a bill establishing a code of conduct and a parliamentary standards commissioner to govern the behaviour of politicians and staff. Speaking on Monday, McGowan said she was “still working on Labor and the government”, while most of the House of Representatives crossbench were likely to vote for the bill. The code would work in tandem with a national integrity commission, the details of which are being negotiated between government, Labor and crossbench MPs. Last week the Australian Capital Territory parliament passed a bill establishing its own integrity commission, which will begin operations in July next year.