Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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What a great start to the week!

We warmly welcomed Monday’s announcement by federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC that the proposed cuts to funding for community legal centres would be reinstated.

This was a wonderful victory that followed a campaign that was begun by my predecessor, Bill Potts, and vigorously pursued by myself.

Thanks are due to the many people and organisations that created such a groundswell of support that the Federal Government simply had to listen to Queensland Law Society.

These include our members who took the time to lobby their local MPs, and QLS which worked hard to ensure that the broader community was aware of the impact of the federal fiscal cliff.

While the job isn’t over – there is still an urgent need for funding to increase in order to meet the demand from the disadvantaged members of our community – at least we have earned a reprieve for many of those seeking legal assistance.

There is more information in the news item included further on in this edition of QLS Update.

While this advocacy has taken up most of my week, there were other highlights.

The early career lawyers debate last Thursday – solicitors v barristers on the topic ‘Who needs a lawyer when there is Google?’ – was a delightful event, adjudicated masterfully by Justice Martin Daubney.

The Bar Association team may have won in arguing the affirmative case, but I won’t be tossing my practising certificate just yet!

There was also the news on Friday when Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced the appointment of three new magistrates, with Andrew Sinclair and Mark Howden appointed to the bench of Southport Magistrates Court, and Toowoomba-based barrister Robbie Davies appointed to the bench of the Dalby Magistrates Court.

On behalf of the Society, I congratulate the appointees and look forward to attending the swearing-in ceremony this Friday morning at the Brisbane Magistrates Court. I will also attend a welcome ceremony for Magistrates Sinclair and Howden at the Southport Magistrates Court at 9am on Tuesday.

This week there has of course been significant media interest in the reversal of the CLC funding cuts, but there were other topics I was interviewed on, including the consequences for international students who commit crimes in Australia and the suggestion of potential new powers for the Crime and Corruption Commission, namely through the broadened definition of corruption and its unintended consequences.

Christine Smyth

QLS president