Attorney-General George Brandis believes Labor has overreached in its “disgraceful” attempt to smear unions royal commissioner Dyson Heydon.
He says the conduct of the former High Court judge has been “unimpeachable”.
Mr Heydon was billed to deliver the 2015 Sir Garfield Barwick address later in August but pulled out last week after being told it was a Liberal Party-organised event.
“He is plainly not biased, he is not a party political person,” Senator Brandis told Sky News on Sunday.
Labor and unions have been outraged that Mr Heydon had considered giving a lecture at a Liberal fundraiser, calling for an end to the royal commission.
Senator Brandis said there had been a campaign designed to smear Mr Heydon, “a person who frankly doesn’t deserve it”.
But Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor insisted there was an appearance of a conflict of interest.
“The proceedings to date are tainted entirely from beginning to end,” he told ABC TV.
Asked about possible legal action by the unions against the royal commission, Mr O’Connor said: “Any affected parties before the commission have to look at their rights here.”
He said there were also questions over the conduct of the commission, including inconsistent use of cross-examination and information being released to the media before being given to affected parties.
However, Justice Minister Michael Keenan described Labor’s attacks as “warped priorities”.
“They never seem to want to comment on union corruption,” he told Ten Network
“They never want to address it because these unions are constituent members of their party; yet they’re keen to have this enormous distraction on an issue that essentially amounts to absolutely nothing.”