Jenny Coate (pictured below) is exactly the sort of person you would want to appoint to the royal commission if you wanted to be seen as choosing talented and experienced people. Apparently, she was the first school captain of the Walford Anglican School for Girls. Later she was the first president of the Children’s Court of Victoria, when she led the creation of the Children’s Koori Court. Later she became the first Victorian State Coroner. In this role she investigated the Black Saturday bushfires deaths of 2009.
The only incident of any controversy seems to be over the latter appointment as Coroner. When she replaced Mr Johnstone, he made it clear he was pushed out. According to media reports (see Herald Sun 5/12/07), Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the government wanted a judge as Coroner, and denied it was payback for Mr Johnstone’s “robust” style. The editorial concluded that the government could have simply promoted Mr Johnstone to the bench – problem solved.
She has served as Chair of the Health Services for Abused Victorian Children Advisory Group and Chair of the Anglicare Steering Committee for Group Conferencing Restorative Justice. Anglicare Victoria received $28 million in Victorian State Government funding in 2006.
While she obviously ticks all the boxes for child protection, Indigenous youth, family violence, and feminist credentials, commissioner Coate will be subject to the same limitations as other commissioners when it comes to exactly which issues are heard before her.
Overall, look for many legal submissions concerning the suitability of individual commissioners to hear particular matters. Presumably, Ms Coate will do the right thing here.
TOMORROW: Commissioner Fitzgerald (No, not Tony)
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)