15 November 2017
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Queensland, as all true Queenslanders know, is unique in mostly wonderful ways. The world’s best beaches, natural wonders too numerous to name, and a laid-back culture that is warm, welcoming and positive throughout our vast state set us apart, and admirably so.
We are also unique in the way that we are governed, in that we have a unicameral legislature; that is, we have no upper house and have not had one since the abolition of the Queensland Legislative Council in 1921. Although hardly anyone will lament the fact that we have fewer politicians than we otherwise might, the lack of a house of review leaves our system vulnerable to legislative over-reach and the drafting of draconian laws.
In the absence of constitutionally enforced oversight, it is vital that stakeholder groups monitor and respond to draft legislation and speak truth to power fearlessly and relentlessly; that is where the QLS member committees come in. It is no hyperbole to say that the QLS committees are the closest thing Queensland has to an upper house, and the vigilance of the members who serve on them is a great gift to the people of Queensland.
It is only through the perspective of the presidency that I have been able to appreciate the true scale of the work performed by these committees, even though I have long served on several of them. There are almost 30 committees; constantly active, responding to draft bills, commenting on discussion papers and enquiries, and proactively suggesting legislative reform to both state and federal governments. The amount of work they get through has to be seen to be believed.
The dedication of those members who sit on the committees, and the hard work they do, is another source of inspiration for me as President. I have been proud to present to parliamentary committees alongside our members, and supported by the QLS advocacy solicitors. The work done via our committee system affects real change to legislation, and protects – indeed, enhances – the rights of all Queenslanders.
The essential role our committees play cannot be over-stated; governments of all stripe can seek to push through legislation which owes more to populism than critical thought, and it is then that the Society speaks up. Often the time-frames are short and significant changes are hidden in innocuous-sounding legislation, but our hard-working committee members constantly step up.
So to all our QLS committee members, thank you for giving up your free time to ensure that the Society’s voice is heard and the rights of Queenslanders are protected. Your work is crucial, and very much appreciated. I would encourage any QLS members who are considering becoming involved in a committee to put their hand up. The experience of working with committed people on issues that matter is extremely rewarding.
You can keep up to date with activities of the Society's committees via our weekly newsletter, our monthly magazine Proctor or via social media. The Society is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and I am personally on LinkedIn and Twitter.