Why China is interested in Australia’s judges

“It’s a list of people who are the most influential across a broad range of sectors, so it doesn’t surprise me there are judges,” Professor Ramsay said.

“Until very recently Chinese investment in Australia was very high, and some of that investment does lead to litigation.”

One such example is Clive Palmer’s successful lawsuit against Chinese-owned CITIC Pacific, which resulted in Mr Palmer being awarded royalties valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

In addition to commercial disputes, Professor Ramsay said judges in Australia also had extensive powers to, where appropriate, overturn government decisions across a broad range of areas, including decisions of the powerful corporate, prudential and competition regulators.

“Australia has always had a strong and independent judiciary … and part of that is judicial or administrative review of government actions,” he said.

“We know, for example, in the commercial field, decisions of ASIC can be the subject of judicial review depending upon the context.”

Law Council President Pauline Wright said public confidence in the judicial system was critical to a well functioning democracy.

“A robust, independent, and impartial judiciary that is perceived as independent and impartial is crucial to maintaining that public confidence,” Ms Wright said.

A spokesman for the judge’s union – the Judicial Council of Australia – said if the list were to be used to undermine that confidence, that would be concerning. However, it was not aware of any such usage.

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