Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
19 July 2010

One consequence of such conspiracies and ructions, and the preoccupation with pure politics that they cause, is that a gap has opened up between the effective and the ceremonial parts of the Presidency. Mbeki and his crew used to form a bridge between policy and politics. Under Zuma, the practical and the symbolic aspects of the office have become increasingly divorced. The Presidency is in danger of becoming a symbolic institution, dedicated to projecting an image of a beloved national leader and obsessed with how the world looks rather than with how it is. If this continues, its practical work will increasingly fall away. The planning commission will plan and the monitoring unit will monitor. But ministers and premiers will do their own thing, oblivious to one another and unable to work towards a wider national good. – Anthony Butler in Business Day

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