Federal health minister avoids contempt of court charge and possible jail sentence after ‘full and unqualified apology’
The federal health minister Greg Hunt and two ministerial colleagues have avoided charges of contempt of court and possibly jail after apologising for comments about “weak” terrorism sentencing in Victoria. as the state’s appeals court increased the jail terms given to two would-be terrorists.
• The Victorian Court of Appeal ruled it would not proceed with contempt of court charges against Mr Hunt, human services minister Alan Tudge and assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar after it heard their apology.
• The three men did not appear in court, but Commonwealth Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue told the court each apologised “unreservedly” for their comments, published in The Australian newspaper.
“ “We offer that apology now,” Dr Donaghue told the court on behalf of the ministers.
“We never intended to influence the court. We intend to exercise great care in the future.”
The court had previously said the ministers had “failed to respect the doctrine of separation of powers” and “breached the principle of ˆsub judice”.
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The court welcomed the “full and unqualified apology” but said it came after a “stern discussion” between the bench and Solicitor-General, and days of reflection.
“The delay is most regrettable and aggravated the contempt,” the court said.
The court said the situation should never have resulted in two court hearings.
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