The High Court has ruled in favour of a former Queensland politician who claimed to have seen a document that showed how his state’s public works department was illegally receiving $1.8 million from an Australian company.
In a unanimous ruling on Thursday, Justice David Kavanagh said there was no evidence of the documents being stolen or altered.
“It is clear that the defendant, Mr Kavanagas ex-spokesperson, did not make a mistake in his assertion that he saw the document,” he said.
Kavanagh also rejected claims by the Queensland Opposition that he had “lost the plot” by making his claim.
He ruled that the Opposition had not established “reasonable grounds” to attack the integrity of the court.
But the ruling was criticised by the former Liberal premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, who called it “a major blow to our system of public service integrity”.
Mr Newman said the court’s decision could have a chilling effect on people seeking to exercise their right to challenge public officials.
Mr Kavanague ruled the documents should have been released by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Queensland Labor Government in order to give a “fair hearing” to the Opposition.
Read more about Queensland politics: Queensland Opposition claims documents ‘lost the plan’ to block Newman from powerThe ruling comes after a Senate inquiry found the documents were “lost” when the Opposition used them as part of its campaign against the Newman government in 2015. AAP