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
2 May 2007

"Proteas lost because of prejudice, not affirmative action"

Steven Friedman’s column in today’s Business Day will get many people hot under the collar. He argues that racist prejudice, not affirmative action, was partly to blame for the woeful performance of the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup. Monet quote:

The problem, white former players tell us, is that our team is not chosen on merit. They are right. Racial bias does hobble our cricketing progress. But the problem is not the measures designed to give black players a chance. It is prejudice that assumes, instinctively, that competence is something whites have and blacks must prove they have.

Those who doubt that South African team selection is still heavily influenced by this prejudice need to consider these questions: Why was Makhaya Ntini, the third-highest international wickettaker in our history, dropped for our first World Cup match played on a pitch which suited his bowling?

I agree with Friedman’s broader point about black people having to show competence while competence is assumed in whites. Why else would otherwise reasonably intelligent people choose Graham Smith – a petulant, overweight, insecure bully – as the Protea captain? Don’t want to sound like my mother, but the fact that he continuously chews gum on the pitch just adds insult to injury. The selectors should do some affirmative firing and send him packing.
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