Campbell Newman says Tim Carmody appointment is his biggest regret

Former Queensland premier says making Carmody chief justice of the supreme court was a bad move politically but that he was right for the job

The decision former Queensland premier Campbell Newman regrets “more than any other” in his 13-year political career was his appointment of controversial chief justice Tim Carmody to the supreme court.

The revelation comes in the authorised biography Can Do: Campbell Newman and the Challenge of Reform, due for release in October.

The book, by journalist and former parliamentarian Gavin King, says Newman’s treasurer, Tim Nicholls, and chief of staff, Ben Myers, both advised Newman against Carmody’s elevation.

Carmody was awarded the position by Newman in June 2014. He had not previously sat on the supreme court and had served only nine months as a chief magistrate. Long-serving judges were overlooked for the position.

His appointment drew criticism from the legal profession. The head of Queensland’s court of appeal, Margaret McMurdo, later refused to work with him in any court.

Others criticised the decision as being a “captain’s pick”, since Carmody was close to Newman and the LNP government. It became one of the most contentious appointments in modern legal history, and Carmody ultimately stood down barely 12 months into the job.

Newman was ejected from office after just one term, and the Carmody appointment was seen as contributing to the government’s demise.

But while Newman says the decision to appoint Carmody was a bad one politically, he told the Sunday Mail in an exclusive interview published on Sunday that he still believed Carmody was “the right guy’’ for the job.

“It was about reform,” Newman said. “The courts and the legal system need to be reformed.”

During his time as chief justice, Carmody angered his legal peers by directing magistrates not to interfere with the LNP’s strict anti-bikie laws, and also issued an extraordinary directive to ensure he, rather than individual judges, would preside over disputed bail applications for accused bikies.

Newman also told the Sunday Mail that the boost the federal Coalition government had seen in the polls since replacing Tony Abbott as prime minister with Malcolm Turnbull proved that the LNP, too, could have won the 2015 state election if he had been allowed to stand aside.

Newman twice offered his resignation after the LNP suffered a devastating defeat in the Stafford byelection, triggered when the LNP’s Chris Davis quit parliament claiming the Newman government would not listen to dissenting views.

Newman said had he also stood aside following the defeat, “the LNP could have won the election in my view”.

Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk took power following the election in January, deposing the Newman government in one of the greatest electoral landslides in Australian political history.

Newman said he took responsibility for the defeat, and the huge swing against the LNP.

“There were mistakes that were made,” he said.

“Even if they were made by other people, I take responsibility for them because at the end of the day the buck stops with the leader.

“We were upfront with people and in your face. We didn’t do things that were against people’s interests. We did hard things but they had to be done and they still have to be done. We clearly, politically got many things wrong and that’s my fault.’’

Newman said going to an early election was the right move, giving growing dissent against the federal Abbott government which would have only made campaigning harder.

“That’s why the election was on January 31, because I could smell trouble coming and I wanted it [the election] as soon as possible,” he said.


Melissa Davey

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Queensland election: Campbell Newman defends leadership style
Premier and opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk meet in debate on final day of campaign, as Newman maintains he is passionate, not arrogant

Daniel Hurst, political correspondent

30, Jan, 2015 @7:47 AM

Article image
Six months of Labor: popular Palaszczuk keeps Queensland show on the road
From Tim Carmody and librarians to upstaging Greg Hunt – six talking points from six months of Labor government in the sunshine state

Joshua Robertson

14, Aug, 2015 @1:46 AM

Article image
Campbell Newman cuts short regional campaign to defend his Brisbane seat
Queensland premier returns to capital for final days of election campaign after poll showed he was at risk of losing his seat of Ashgrove

Daniel Hurst, political correspondent

29, Jan, 2015 @9:21 AM

Article image
Rupert Murdoch scolded tabloid for unfavourable coverage of Campbell Newman, book reveals
News Corp boss criticised editorial director of the Courier Mail and said former Queensland premier should have sacked thousands more public servants, according to new book

Bridie Jabour

02, Oct, 2015 @4:27 AM

Article image
Queensland election: Campbell Newman forced to endorse transparency principles
Although the premier was declared the winner of the people’s forum on Friday night, he was pressured into agreeing to sign up to the Fitzgerald principles

Bridie Jabour

23, Jan, 2015 @11:32 PM

Article image
Campbell Newman tells reporters to Google evidence of bikie donations
Queensland premier repeats claim that Labor gets funding from bikies as opposition leader badges the claim ‘ridiculous, offensive and just desperate’

Bridie Jabour

24, Jan, 2015 @6:16 AM

Article image
Queensland election: Newman government under scrutiny over coal donation
Exclusive: New details emerge of donation from New Hope Coal director to minister who oversaw air pollution clearance for coalmine expansion

Joshua Robertson

20, Jan, 2015 @8:21 PM

Queensland election: Labor hopeful it will form government as Newman loses seat – as it happened
Labor gains a swing of 11.4% and now holds at least 43 seats with more than two thirds of the vote counted, but requires 45 to form government

Bridie Jabour and Freddy McConnell in Brisbane

31, Jan, 2015 @1:55 PM

Article image
Queensland election: Campbell Newman gains early boost in polls
Labor fails to make headway in first week of campaigning as government enjoys a modest turnaround ahead of 31 January election

Shalailah Medhora and agencies

11, Jan, 2015 @12:32 AM

Article image
Annastacia Palaszczuk: an ascendancy marked by all that Newman is not
Campbell Newman’s hubris and doggedly partisan approach defined his time governing Queensland, but Palaszczuk projects a contrasting leadership style

Joshua Robertson

01, Feb, 2015 @9:44 PM