Stephen McMahon, Amelia Harris From: Herald Sun February 11, 2010 12:00AM
FAMILIES of victims killed by drunk drivers are outraged at the appointment of a convicted drink-driver as Victoria's newest magistrate.
Lawyer John O'Callaghan was appointed by Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who has been accused of undermining his government's road safety campaign.
Mr O'Callaghan lost his licence in 2003 after being caught behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content of .07 per cent.
Penny Martin, whose son Josh died at the hands of a drink driver in 2001, said she was sickened by the appointment.
"Politicians have no understanding of road trauma and this proves it," she said.
"This appointment makes me sick to the stomach because it will just verify to the drunk driver in the death of my son that the Government doesn't view this as seriously as they should."
The Attorney-General's Department and the Magistrates Court refused to give the Herald Sun any details of Mr O'Callaghan's offence.
The penalty for blowing .07 is an automatic loss of licence for six months.
The appointment comes after a shocking series of alcohol-fuelled road deaths.
More than 8500 drink driving cases went before magistrates' courts last year.
Opposition justice spokesman Robert Clark questioned whether Mr O'Callaghan should be able to preside over cases involving drink drivers.
"Rob Hulls faces a big task to convince Victorian families who have been the victims of drink driving that he has appointed the most suitable applicant for the job," he said.
Victims of crime advocate Noel McNamara was angered by the appointment.
"It's bizarre. It's disgusting. It's outrageous." he said.
Mr Hulls said Mr O'Callaghan disclosed the offence and had become an advocate of responsible driving.
He was unable to say if any other magistrates had convictions.
Law Institute of Victoria chief executive Michael Brett Young said convictions should not disqualify people from public life.
Mr O'Callaghan declined to speak to the Herald Sun.