You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Brandis forced to back down on direction

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Belinda Merhab

Attorney-General George Brandis is facing fresh calls for his resignation after he was forced to withdraw his controversial change to how ministers seek legal advice.

A Labor-dominated Senate inquiry this week found Senator Brandis did not consult Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, who resigned over the debacle, before banning ministers from seeking his advice without notifying the attorney-general first.

It accused him of misleading parliament by insisting he did consult on the matter and recommended he be censured.

Labor had planned to disallow the amendment on Thursday, with the support of the Greens and Nick Xenophon Team.

But Senator Brandis scrapped it hours before the Senate was set to.

Senator Brandis told parliament on Thursday he consulted the acting solicitor-general Tom Howe on the withdrawal, insisting he decided to do it back in October, when Mr Gleeson resigned.

He thought the incoming solicitor-general would "no doubt" have views on the amendment he made.

"(Mr Howe) agreed with me that it was appropriate that when the new solicitor-general came into office, which will be very soon, that he should begin, as it were, with a clean slate."

That fuelled Labor's claim that the only reason Senator Brandis amended the direction was to get rid of Mr Gleeson.

"George Brandis changed the law of Australia to get at a senior statutory office holder who he disliked," shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said.

"This is an extraordinary admission for the first law officer of this country.

"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must sack him, today."

Senator Brandis dismissed it as a conspiracy theory and blamed Labor for making Mr Gleeson's position untenable by hauling him before a Senate inquiry where he "made some admissions which destroyed the government's capacity to trust him".

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon