Law Council's Gala Dinner 2019
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13 December 2018
The achievements of the Law Council in 2018 were celebrated at the annual Law Council’s Gala Dinner, held at the National Gallery of Australia on 29 November.
Focused on the vital contributions the Law Council had made to debates of national significance and looking forward to the year ahead, the event was a great opportunity to take stock of what has been a tumultuous year in the Capital.
More than 150 people attended, including the Attorney-General Christian Porter and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who both spoke at the dinner.
President Morry Bailes noted the far-reaching impact of The Justice Project, the Law Council’s ground-breaking analysis of the lack of access to legal representation by disadvantaged groups in Australia. Released in August, the 1400-page report provided an eye-opening and often heartbreaking insight in the plight of everyday Australians struggling to navigate our legal system.
Mr Bailes also lauded the work of the Law Council in raising serious concerns regarding the Federal Government’s controversial encryption legislation and in providing careful counsel to government members that helped see the passage of the Modern Slavery Act.
“The Law Council of Australia has, on behalf of the legal profession and the whole of Australia, worked extremely hard to ensure the making of good law that protects our existing rights, our freedoms and our entitlements,” Mr Bailes said.
“National security is vitally important – but so too are our hard-won individual rights and freedoms.
“Striking a reasonable and proportionate balance between these often-competing priorities is a debate that never ends.
“And it is a debate the Law Council must always be involved in.
“Indeed, our role in frankly and fearlessly challenging the Australian Parliament to pass good law represents – I believe – the most Australian thing to do.”
Incoming President, Arthur Moses SC, later spoke of the Law Council’s vision for 2019, which will include: expanding The Justice Project’s findings, fighting for increased legal aid funding, working towards Indigenous constitutional recognition and promoting the great work of the Law Council and all its members.
2019 will also see a Federal election in the first half of the year.
The winner of the Law Council’s President's Award was also announced, awarded to Phillip Boulten SC, who has worked tirelessly as a defender of natural justice and Indigenous advocate.
“Throughout his career, Mr Boulten has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of the rule of law and the administration of justice,” Mr Bailes said.
“He has achieved this not only through his work at the Bar, but also his contributions to the work of the Law Council, the Australian Bar Association, and the New South Wales Bar Association, where he served as President.
“His commitment to key tenets of our justice system, like the presumption of innocence, has been an enduring feature of his career. He regularly takes on criminal defence briefs in difficult and unpopular causes, on behalf of individuals accused of serious crimes.”