The President of the Victorian Bar Jennifer Batrouney QC today expressed deep concern about the recent comments of Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Peter Dutton MP.
During an interview on breakfast radio on 28 August, Minister Dutton agreed with the statement of 2GB radio host Alan Jones that the behaviour of lawyers representing asylum seekers is ‘un-Australian’.
Ms Batrouney QC defended members of the Bar and other lawyers who donate their time and expertise to assisting those who cannot afford legal representation.
“There is nothing un-Australian about lawyers sharing their skill and expertise with those who cannot afford to pay for legal representation,” she said. “Any person who contributes to upholding the rule of law should be valued and respected, whether acting for an individual or for government.”
The Victorian Bar is proud of its members’ work in upholding the rule of law in Australia. It is an indispensable requirement of the rule of law, on which all of our freedoms are based, that every person has access to independent legal representation. This is especially important where an excess of governmental power is alleged.
"Pro bono legal representation is in keeping with the best traditions of Australian society. I am concerned that these comments undermine the independence and integrity of our legal system.
"Australia is the proud and peaceful nation we are today because of the checks and balances on power in our political system,” said Ms Batrouney QC. “We urge today’s politicians to uphold the long tradition in Australia of respecting the independence of our legal system."