The reason given by the federal government for appointing six commissioners to the Royal Commission was that the enormous volume of work would require multiple hearings being conducted simultaneously.
So far, only a single hearing has been held with all six commissioners present. The “case study” format used for the first hearing, last week, is to be used for at least the rest of the year, with no multiple hearings. This means that there will be a few days of hearings, then a month or so of no hearings, for the foreseeable future.
So far, nearly a year has passed since the Royal Commission was announced by former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and almost $100 million has been spent on it.
In the absence of multiple hearings, there will be very little to report on, especially since the first 4 “case studies” are already well-documented in both the media and the courts. It does seem strange that all six commissioners, at the first hearing, sat there in a row like stuffed chooks, with little or no involvement in the proceedings.
Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that only one Counsel Assisting, Gail “Snow White” Furness, has been appointed. Appointing only one Counsel Assisting may be normal with only one commissioner, but for six commissioners, there should have been six Counsel Assisting, which would allow for the hoped-for multiple hearings.
With the present format, there seems little likelihood that much will be covered in the initial 3-4 year time-frame. Some now suggest up to 10 years will be required, but this would mean that people will have to wait a very long time to have their issues aired.
The current situation may be likened to a railway company with six engines and only one carriage.
Consequently, the initial aim of this blog to have daily commentary must be revised. Posts will be, necessarily, erratic until things are speeded up by the commissioners to reflect the volume of matters requiring attention. Initially, it is intended to have a weekly posting, supplemented when there is something definite to cover.
If the commissioners wake up to themselves and hold multiple hearings, as originally intended, then daily postings may again become possible.
TOMORROW: Postponed indefinitely
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)