Coalition frontbencher Senator George Brandis has bowed to Greens' demands (since December) and has stood down from a signal case before the Senate's powerful Privileges Committee.
Senator Brandis' secret "recusal" from the committee last week was not revealed until a letter to Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown's and Deputy Leader Christine Milne's legal counsel yesterday. It follows a detailed submission from Senators Brown and Milne, flagged in the Senate, outlining reasons Senator Brandis would compromise the Committee proceedings and indicating a High Court challenge if he did not get off the Committee for this proceeding.
"This back down by Brandis after two months of pressure highlights the Opposition's highly compromised position as accusers, led by Senator Abetz, who had Senators Milne and I referred to the Privileges Committee for ‘corruption' on concocted grounds any court would have thrown out last year," Senator Brown said.
"The failure of the Privileges Committee to have already dismissed this matter also fails the expectation that justice be swift, fully informed and according to best court practices," Senator Brown said.
"This pre-Christmas ambush on two Senators, orchestrated by Senator Abetz, will backfire but damage the Senate's reputation for procedural fairness.
"Senator Brandis is a Senior Counsel. He should have recused himself at the outset in November," Senator Brown said.