Well, the dust has settled and the counting’s done, and the QLS council election is run and won. I’d like to offer my heartiest congratulations to the winning candidates, and express my appreciation for all who put their hands up and were prepared to give back selflessly to our organisation and the profession itself. I urge those who didn’t succeed this time to stay involved with QLS and to consider another run in 2021. I also thank all those members who voted—it is from you that the legitimate mandate arises that allows the council to govern.
I also want to wish the new office-bearers and council members good luck in your challenging but rewarding roles. I guarantee you there is a lot more work to it than one might think, but also a lot more reward as well. There are generally more ups than downs, and you have a good mix of experienced people who have been on council before and enthusiastic newcomers; that will help you drive the Society on to success in the next two years.
I also urge all members to get to know their new councillors and to engage with them as often as possible (you can look at their elections bios here). I assure you that people who volunteer to go on council do so because they want to help members and the legal profession in general. If you want an issue dealt with the QLS council is a good place to start, and if you see them around at functions and seminars, pop over and say hello. They will be glad to hear your thoughts and to connect with as many members as possible.
I now have to address a fairly disappointing issue that has arisen over the last weekend, with the very definition of a storm in a teacup erupting over Queensland Bar Association President Rebecca Treston handing out how-to-vote cards for a friend at the last federal election. That we have come to the point where an Aussie has to explain a decision to help out a mate is worthy of sorrow.
The desperately long bow being drawn by media and other pundits, including deposed former Premier Campbell Newman, is that because Ms Treston has a friend who ran for the ALP, her vision when it comes to appointing judges might be clouded by political bias. We must indeed be upon the very definition of ‘slow news day’ if this is news, and I shall leave it to others to ponder Campbell Newman speaking out about judicial appointments, but in any event I can only be appalled by this beat-up.
For the record, I have sat with Ms Treston on judicial appointment panels, and can assure you that she has only ever looked at the merit of candidates, and I can tell you that is hard enough without any other complications. Queensland has a massively talented pool of legal talent, and the quality of the people who do not make it give you a good indication of the depth of our talent pool. The quality of our judiciary, magistracy and tribunal membership is proof positive that merit is the only criteria that is considered.
Sadly it would appear that some members of the Bar have made comments that have given this issue oxygen it does not warrant, but at the least we know the way to resolve it. It is clearly time for an independent judicial commission to handle the process of recommendations for appointment to the bench. As long as the workings of that commission remain transparent, the possibility of political taint will be nil and the general public will see just how good one has to be to get on those benches; the ball is in your court, Madam Attorney-General.
On a happier note, there is still time (although not much) for you to register for the next Aspire Lecture, presented by new Legal Services Commissioner, Megan Mahon, on 6 November. You can register here.
In closing, I will note that we are now 5/6ths of the way through 2019, and if that isn’t enough to scare you on Halloween, nothing will!
Bill Potts, QLS President
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