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City Desk
22 June, 2010  
Up the workers

Judge Keating’s list of new workers comp arbitrators refined by AG … Well known hands get the gigs … Parliamentary flourishes out the window … Updated

The appointment this week of a clutch of full-time, part-time and sessional NSW Workers Comp Commission arbitrators was subject to the traditional delays and readjustments.

imageThe appointments were announced by WCC president Judge Greg Keating on June 16. See HERE.

The word on the Rialto is that Attorney General John Hatzistergos had a wily paw in the selection process. At least three names were scratched from Judge Keating’s list of nominees. The scratchings took place in the AG’s office.

This is despite flourishes made in parliament that the selection exercise would be independent.

Hatz told the Legislative Council that he had personally made sure there was a Law Society rep on the arms-length selection panel.

Because of the specialised nature of the work and to avoid any hint of political interference the AG said it would be best if only those recommended by the panel would be appointed.

He told parliament on May 11:

“There is no attempt on our part to politicise the appointment process. Obviously this specialist tribunal requires specialist skills and it is appropriate in those circumstances that the views of this expert panel, which was designed to make recommendations on a merit basis, are respected.”

Applications for the gigs were supposed to close on February 28 with appointments to start at the mill on about May 1. Later the applications were extended to March 14.

The relevant legislation allowing the appointment of arbitrators was passed on May 11 and assented to on May 18.

In early May the applicants received an email saying the attorney general would make the appointments on the basis of recommendations that had been sent to him by the WCC on April 21.

Until then everyone had rashly assumed that the appointments were at Greg Keating’s discretion, but it was Hatz who had the final say. He came from a celebrated personal injuries background having served as a deckhand at Beston and Riordan before sailing off to the Commonwealth DPP, Garfield Barwick Chambers and then the red leather of the NSW upper house.

It is understood that when Hatz received Keating’s list he sheared it of three names and returned it to the WCC prez.

Keating says he is “completely happy” with the appointments and the AG says the process was not “hijacked” in any way.

In the end 12 full-timers got the nod, even though the parliamentary speeches all referred to the appointment of 18 to 22 full-time compo arbitrators.

It appears that more appointments will be make in a second round.

Among the successful candidates for full-time positions we find:

* Elizabeth Beilby, daughter of famous injury compensation solicitor Barry Beilby.

* Brett Batchelor, a barrister from 7 Garfield Barwick.

* Michael (Digger) McGrowdie, Deborah Moore and Michael Snell – all have been acting deputy presidents of the WCC.

* Craig Tanner, former part-time WCC arbitrator and a solicitor at Maurice Blackburn & Co.

* Michael Snell, Deborah Moore and Paul Sweeney all came from the same floor as two current WCC dep-presidents, Bill Roche and Kevin O’Grady. It was the old 43 MLC Edmund Barton Chambers, before it was rebadged as William Deane Chambers in Phillip Street.

I hope that genealogical chart is helpful.

The full list is HERE.