On the same subject former NSW Attorney General John Dowd in his capacity as president of the Australian section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) writes to Attorney General Brandis, as reported in The Guardian Australia, reminding that the rule of law involves the ongoing effective discharge of the functions of a statutory body such as the OAIC until such time as parliament no longer requires:
... the government is seeking to achieve executively what it cannot achieve legislatively,” Dowd said in the letter to Brandis. “This is of profound concern to the ICJ which has the responsibility of defending the rule of law. “The rule of law is not a nebulous concept but does have some very specific components, one of which is the doctrine of the separation of powers … It is disappointing that we have to draw this simple principle to your attention.”(Addendum: John Dowd on ABC AM Tuesday morning.)
“When this executive function has the effective result of emasculating a statutory body, which can only be abolished by statute, there can be no doubt that the wall of protection separating the executive from the legislature has been breached,” he said.
Dowd told Brandis a government should not prevent the ongoing effective discharge of the functions of a statutory body that the law required to continue, otherwise “the consequences in a civilised society such as ours would be too disastrous to contemplate”. He said if that were the case, a government could emasculate any statutory body that caused it displeasure.
The bill to abolish the OAIC has been before the Senate since October 2014 and not once brought on for a vote. Meanwhile because of failure to fund and fill positions one commissioner carries the functions of the three positions Parliament established.