Friday, March 18, 2011

Hatzistergos v Cowdery - final round

By Theodora, Justinian, March 17, 2011:
The appointment of Ian Temby as acting NSW DPP was unnecessary, expensive and an act of vindictiveness, according to Theodora 
Attorney General John Hatzistergos phoned outgoing DPP Nicholas Cowdery on Wednesday (March 16) and told him Temby would be taking over for two months as acting DPP, until the incoming government found a replacement.
He rejected Cowdery's offer to stay on as acting director. Cowdery ends his 17-year stint as NSW DPP today (Friday, March 18), one day before his 65th birthday on Saturday.
Hatzistergos' explanation for the rejection of Cowdery's offer was that the legislation doesn't allow him to extend his appointment, even in an acting capacity.
Curiously, he told the DPP this was the advice he had from the Solicitor General, but according to Cowdery's version of the conversation with the AG, the SG said the situation "might be open to other interpretations".
Indeed it might, because the saving and transitional provisions of the DPP Act say that the amendments of 2007, which removed Cowdery's life tenure (till age 72) and made him ineligible for reappointment ("including reappointment after the end of the director's term"), do not apply to any senior officer of the DPP who held office immediately before the commencement of the amendments. See s.36(4) DPP Act. 
It was sheer bloody mindedness on the part of Hatzistergos that prevented Cowdery being extended for a few more months.
All the more so because having Cowdery as acting DPP would have saved the state money. Temby is to be paid at least the DPP's salary - at the rate of $354,030 p.a. plus $22,000 by way of a "conveyance allowance".
Had Cowdery been permitted to stay on, his pay would be the difference between his pension and his salary - a saving to the state of 40 percent of the usual DPP's purse.
Hatzistergos would not even appoint the deputy DPP, Lou Lamprati SC, as acting director. Temby is it.
Hatzistergos effectively forced Cowdery out of the job before the expiry of his tenure by refusing to amend an anomaly in the provisions which require the DPP to take his pension at 65, even though he could serve as director to the age of 72.
Small mindedness is never attractive, but at least Hatzistergos is not among those ALP characters who would have kept Ian Temby on a black list for what he did to Labor icon Lionel Keith Murphy.

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