This very serious looking man is Dyson Heydon, a former High Court judge and the current commissioner of the Royal Commission into trade unions. And he is in a spot of bother.
It was revealed this morning that Heydon, who has presided over the questioning of opposition leader Bill Shorten and former prime minister Julia Gillard, was the guest speaker at an upcoming Liberal party fundraiser. Oooooops.
Heydon was due to deliver the Sir Garfield Barwick Address later this month at an event that was billed as a fundraiser for the NSW Liberal party, Fairfax reports.
In a statement earlier this morning, a spokesman for Mr Heydon said the Commissioner had made the decision to pull out of the event before any media enquiries had been made on the apparent conflict of interest.
"As early as 9.23 this morning (and prior to any media enquiry being received) he advised the organisers that "If there was any possibility that the event could be described as a Liberal Party event he will be unable to give the address, at least whilst he is in the positon of Royal Commissioner," the statement said.
Fairfax says it contacted Heydon at 9.35.
But that's not enough for the Labor party, which is calling for the Commissioner to step down.
Upon hearing the news Labor MPs immediately rushed to the House to have Heydon removed.
"He is conflicted, he is biased, the royal commission is a farce," manager of opposition business Tony Burke said. "By his own actions he has disqualified himself from conducting the Royal Commission"
Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfuss said Heydon should release all correspondence relating to the dinner and threatened to take the matter to court.
"If the royal commissioner refuses to disqualify himself formally it's a matter that can be taken up in (the Federal) court," he said.
The Greens went even further, calling for the whole commission to get in the bin.
"Any pretence of independence of the trade union royal commission is now gone," Greens MP Adam Bandt said. "And the royal commission must be immediately terminated."
But the Liberals aren't too concerned, they reckon it wasn't really a fundraiser anyway, and now that the Commissioner has pulled out "that should be the end of it."
Speaking on Sky this afternoon, Attorney General George Brandis noted that at $80-a-head, it appeared the meals were being provided "at cost price."
He also said that event had mistakenly been labelled a fundraiser.
"I think it's misdescribed as a fundraiser. Any suggestion that Justice Heydon would be lending his support to one side of politics or another is absurd," he said.
An invitation for the event, which has since been removed from the NSW Bar Association's website, said that cheques should be made out to "Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division)" and that "all proceeds from this event will be applied to state election campaigning."
Plenty of other people think the fundraiser is, at best, a slightly dodgy event for a Royal Commissioner to attend.
And of course, there is one other big issue in all of this.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Rob Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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