Federal Election 2019: Meet Murray McInnis


Media Release: https://www.medianet.com.au/releases/174887/
Themes: Climate change, stopping the rorts, supporting the disabled and carers, respect retirees.  Looks good on human rights, refugees, violence against women, and racism.
Upper House: VIC (Ungrouped Independent)
Preferences: Unknown

Policies & Commentary

Murray McInnis does not have a personal website or a visible Facebook page, which is an interesting strategy for a person running as an independent in the Upper House of Victoria.  I wonder how he expects people to find out about him?

What he has is a press release (linked above), telling us that he is a genuine independent with the following areas of concern:

  • Act on climate change
  • Stop the rorts
  • Support the disabled and carers
  • Respect retirees

I’m a big fan of action on climate change and better support for disabled people and carers.  I don’t like rorts, but I feel that a little more information might be helpful here, and respect retirees could mean many things but I rather suspect it means that we don’t like franking credits.  Overall, I’d really like a bit more detail on all of these points.

Looking further into his press release, we learn that McInnes is a barrister and former Justice of the Federal Magistrate’s court, which I suspect explains his lack of social media presence.

He was a lead Ambassador and Director of White Ribbon, President and Board member of the United Nations Association (UNAA) (Vic), Chairman and Judge of the Media Peace Awards of the UNAA, Appeal Board Judge of the Victorian Football Federation, member of Ethics Committee of the Victorian Bar’ Judge of Monash University Law Faculty moots and a mentor to Melbourne University JD students. 

So we can assume he is against domestic violence, and is not calling for Australia to leave the UN, which are again, good things, but a little sparse on detail.

Time for a little creative Googling, I think.

First, I thought I’d check out the UNAA, which is an Australian not-for-profit with the following mission:

We inform, inspire and engage all Australians about the critical work, goals, and values of the United Nations to create a safer, fairer and more sustainable world.

That’s certainly a promising start.

McInnis is also a Patron of the African-Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Service, which is a community based not-for-profit helping address challenges facing African Australians in the areas of employment, mental health, social isolation and exclusion, education, racism, and ‘risk behaviours leading to contact with the Criminal Justice system’.

So we probably aren’t going to find him ‘accidentally’ supporting any motions by One Nation on how it’s OK to be white.

McInnis co-authored a submission (PDF here), in his role as a member of the Victorian Bar Human Rights Committee on the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016, which was fairly scathing overall and concluded that:

  1. The Bill is draconian in operation and punitive in outcome. It is contrary to international law agreed to by Australia and contrary to the Rule of Law. Its enactment is not supported.
  2. The Bill ignores the principles of international law and in doing so overlooks the human rights of those refugees, and their families, who may become subject to its provisions.
  3. Above all else, we are deeply troubled by the deleterious impact the Bill may have, if enacted, on the human rights and interests of children and their families. The Bill does not acknowledge, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the interests of the child are paramount. The protection of the rights of children by the exercise of a ministerial discretion in the manner contemplated by the Explanatory Memorandum, in circumstances where the Bill expressly provides that the discretion is non-compellable and the Bill does not explicitly otherwise require that the discretion should be exercised in conformity with the principles of natural justice, is grossly inadequate. At the very least, the Bill must be amended to permit the possibility of review of the Ministerial discretion by an Australian Court, and/or merits based review, following the exercise of the discretionary power by the Minister in accordance with the principles of natural justice. Anything less can only be productive of arbitrariness and capriciousness.

So we can probably trust him on refugee issues.

McInnis also co-authored a submission (PDF) to Parliament on the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014.  The submission was not impressed by the short amount of time provided to make submissions, but was pretty unimpressed by secret searches, particularly those which allow the AFP to enter adjoining premises of innocent neighbours without notice.  They felt that the new offence of ‘advocating terrorism’ was unnecessary, because there are already laws that forbid ‘urging’ violence.  They objected to the lack of a requirement for intent, and a lack of exceptions, e.g. for people who were already in the area when the ban was declared, or for those who were unable to leave due to ill health or the need to care for a relative.  And they were utterly appalled that there was a loophole permitting evidence obtained ‘indirectly’ through torture or duress.

Which is a big tick in the human rights box.

McInnis has a profile at the Victorian Bar which is meaningless to me, but might be illuminating to any lawyers reading this (then again, if he’s been practicing in Victoria since 1980, and mentoring students, any lawyers reading this probably know him, or know of him, already…).  I see that he is a member of the Copyright Society and is interested in Intellectual Property, so I’m guessing that he wouldn’t get on too well with the Pirate Party.  Other areas of interest include legal ethics and sports law.

In conclusion, McInnis looks like he belongs near the top of the ballot.  He cares about climate change and human rights, which are my two top issues.  But I suspect he’d get a lot more votes if he had a bit more of a presence online.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some light relief after attempting to intelligently read legal documents and submissions.  And after trying – and mostly failing – to track down anything useful about McInnis’s likely policies, I am left with the following thought:

You got secrets to unfold
You got stories never told
You’re holding information
Standing right in front of me
A hidden rhapsody
I walk into temptation

And that temptation is to adorn my commentary on a very learned barrister with an entirely frivolous – though impeccably staged – song from Moldova.  (And if you love the staging as much as I do, I also strongly recommend watching this video, which shows you what the performance looks like from behind the wall.)

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