Taxpayer funded Fitzroy Legal Aid Centre in Melbourne did Tony Windsor's legal work on Barnaby Joyce challenge
This bloke is a grub.
Legal centre gave pro bono help to Windsor in Joyce citizenship case
A Victorian community legal centre that represents Melbourne’s disadvantaged stepped in at the last minute to assist former independent MP Tony Windsor in challenging Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s dual citizenship case in the High Court.
Partly funded by federal and state taxpayers, the Fitzroy Legal Service helped Mr Windsor write an application asking to join the legal proceedings after deciding that the eligibility of Mr Joyce to sit in parliament was “an important question of constitutional law” that crossed party lines.
Meghan Fitzgerald, a lawyer at the centre, refused to say whether Mr Windsor approached her organisation directly but it was asked “at late notice” to get involved in the matter, which it did pro bono. Mr Windsor, who represented the electorate of New England for more than a decade before retiring in 2013 and standing unsuccessfully last year, was granted the right to appear as a “contradictor” against his long-time political rival.
“The court recognised the importance of having a contradictor — someone whose job’s not on the line who can bring a slightly more independent voice to the court,” Ms Fitzgerald told The Australian.
“We’ve got a significant pro bono team, the allocation for resources for this type of preliminary question is very, very minimal.
“It’s really not difficult.” Coalition sources said it was “truly bizarre” that a suburban legal service specialising in the needs of the less fortunate was giving instruction on behalf of a NSW farmer and coalminer.
“It begs the question, as it always does with Tony Windsor: who actually is backing him, and for what purpose?” they said.
Ms Fitzgerald said the legal centre “stepped out of the picture” and was no longer working on the case after the court ordered the commonwealth to pay reasonable costs for Mr Windsor, who declined to comment for this story.
The Fitzroy Legal Service has challenged the government’s now relaxed secrecy rules for immigration detention workers who spoke out about abuse or neglect and the East West Link tunnel project, which was scrapped by the Andrews Labor government.
Ms Fitzgerald insisted the centre was “apolitical” and consulted with up to 4000 clients a year.
Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash and Senate powerbroker Nick Xenophon will have their elections sent to the High Court today, joining the referrals of Mr Joyce, Nationals senator Matt Canavan, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters — to be heard next month.
Labor is threatening to wreak havoc as parliament resumes and Mr Joyce prepares to step into the role of Acting Prime Minister while Malcolm Turnbull visits Samoa at the end of the week.
“We have got a Prime Minister away and someone acting as prime minister that might not even be eligible to sit in the federal parliament,” deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said. “We are in uncharted waters (and) I think we have to say that anything could happen this week in parliament.”