Royal commissioner justice Dyson Heydon, who is overseeing the Abbott government’s two-year, $60 million Royal Commission into trade union corruption, has been forced to pull out of an address he was due to give in less than two weeks after it was revealed to be a Liberal Party fundraiser.
This morning Fairfax Media revealed the 6th annual Sir Garfield Barwick address, on August 26, in Sydney, was organised by the Liberal Party’s NSW division, raising funds for the state election campaign. The invitation was on Liberal Party letterhead and tickets are $80.
The invitation listed justice Heydon as a former High Court judge of 10 years standing, as well as citing his time on the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal, but did not mention he was currently a royal commissioner.
By 11.30am today, two hours after Fairfax contacted justice Heydon for comment, he released a statement saying he would now not be giving an address.
“As early as 9.23am this morning (and prior to any media enquiry being received) he advised the organisers that ‘if there was any possibility that the event could be described as a Liberal Party event he will be unable to give the address, at least whilst he is in the position of royal commissioner’,” a spokesperson for Justice Heydon said in a statement.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten described the possibility of the royal commissioner attending the fundraiser as “incredibly serious, incredibly concerning”.
The ALP leader spent two days in the witness box at the royal commission, answering questions about his time as a union leader.
There’s more on justice Heydon’s now aborted address here.
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