High Court challenge over controversial candidate Corbett

STORY – DENIS PETERS


THE case involving alleged vilification of homosexual people by former federal election candidate Tess Corbett of Lake Bolac has made its way to the High Court.

corbett

Bernard GayNor and Tess Corbett

The long-running case last fi gured in the New South Wales Court of Appeal in February where it was dismissed with a finding that the court did not have the relevant jurisdiction.

The case was originally taken to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board by Sydney anti discrimination activist Garry Burns, after Katter Party of Australia candidate Ms Corbett, made comments in the Hamilton Spectator.

Ms Corbett told The Spectator in 2013 that she did not want “gays, lesbians or paedophiles working in my kindergarten.” Asked if she considered homosexuals to be in the same category as paedophiles, Ms Corbett replied “yes”. “Paedophiles will be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights,” she
said.

Ms Corbett’s comments were later supported by Queensland Katter party Senate candidate and free speech advocate Bernard Gaynor. Ms Corbett stood down soon after the furore erupted. Mr Burns took the matter to the Anti- Discrimination Board, claiming that her comments incited hatred.

A NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal upheld Mr Burns’ claim and Ms Corbett was ordered to publish an apology in the Sydney Morning Herald, but failed to comply.
Mr Burns then issued contempt of court proceedings against her. Mr Gaynor subsequently appealed the tribunal’s original decision.

The Court of Appeal in February stated that NCAT did not have jurisdiction to resolve Mr Burns’ complaints against Ms Corbett and Mr Gaynor. Mr Burns has now won leave to appeal that decision in the High Court. It is expected to be heard in October or
November this year.

He is seeking a determination as to whether the Administrative Decisions Tribunal had jurisdiction to resolve the complaint under s 49ZT of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), whether the Appeals Panel of the NSW Civil and Administrative 20 Tribunal had jurisdiction to resolve the said complaint, and having regard to both those questions, are the judges’ orders valid.

Mr Burns will seek an order remitting the proceedings back to the Supreme Court of NSW in order to determine the contempt proceedings.

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