Government Lawyers Conference 2017 – Opening

Friday 11 August 2017, Law Society House

President’s welcome speech

“Democracy … is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.”- so said Plato; Winston Churchill on the other hand noted that Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

A bit cynical, perhaps, but given that the current President of the United States is a massive twit-erer, he may perhaps have had a point.

Of course, as everyone here knows it doesn’t actually matter who’s in charge, because the public service will keep the country running anyway. That might be a throwaway line, but it’s quite true – and a vital part of keeping this country running are you, our government lawyers.

You have a unique and difficult role, in that your obligations and duties straddle the legislative, executive and judicial arms of power. This means that you are constantly forced to make fine ethical judgements. And I note that one of the sessions here today should help in that regard, it’s called the networking drinks.

Each and every one of you in this room contribute to the equality of which Plato spoke, and indeed to the important work that our government carries out each and every day.

You provide good counsel. You support our leaders. You lend your expertise and experience to the betterment of our state and our nation.

I am proud to maintain and grow our valued relationships with you all. The Society is proud to support you, as you remain committed to your work across all areas of government.

You are integral members of our society – part of the cogs that keep our nation moving.

Representing and advising our governments across all levels is no easy task. You may not often get the recognition you deserve, but your roles are nonetheless fundamental pillars of our society.


Your attendance today shows your commitment to engaging with the Society and the wider profession.

If you wish to connect further with the Society, I cannot speak highly enough of the benefits of you becoming a member. For those without a practising certificate, there is an associate member option which may suit you.

Membership benefits include access to practice support; Ethics advice, bespoke sessions and Senior Counsellors to mentor and address complex ethically dilemmas; health and wellbeing services –this is critical aspect of any form of practice and Lawcare provides up to six hours of free confidential counselling for you and your family members; professional development sessions; Society news and legislation updates and opportunities to contribute to legislative developments through our 27 policy committees – it gives you and your needs a voice, networking opportunities and protection against negligence claims under the Limitation of Liability Scheme.

Stats and membership

QLS has 529 government lawyer members, a number we would like to see increase as we know there are many government lawyers we aren’t reaching at the moment – which is why we will continue to reach out through events like this.

Collegiality stands at the heart of the legal profession, and it is one of my goals to facilitate that collegiality – did I mention there were networking drinks afterwards?

Seriously, even if you don’t feel like a drink, I urge you all to stay on after today’s programme, if you can, even for a while. The law can be a stressful and sometimes lonely profession, and it is by building professional friendship networks that we develop the resilience that sustains us when things get rough.

These sessions aren’t just about the drinks, despite what you may have read in a certain ethics solicitor’s column at the back of Proctor. They are the chance to gather as a true profession and enjoy the companionship of fellow travellers on the legal road.


I encourage you to stay connected with QLS – members can keep up to date through our monthly Proctor magazine, weekly enewsletter QLS Update and regular communications. Non-members can still follow us via the news pages of our website and social media channels. Feel free to follow me @christineasmyth on Twitter also – I guarantee I will make more sense than a certain other President!

Before I conclude, I would like to thank our exclusive sponsor – Law In Order for their support today.

I would also like to thank our Attorney-General for being with us today and presenting the keynote address this morning.

Today’s program has been tailor made for Government lawyers – and I thank our Government Lawyers Committee for their work on this. I would also like to thank our Chair – Andrew Harris – for his dedication to the Committee.

A few highlights in today’s schedule include:

  • Industrial Relations Act 2016 – which came into effect March of this year
  • Privacy issues
  • What’s new in constitutional law
  • And a rousing Question and Answer session on Native Title Compensation this morning.

I trust that you will find this conference informative, engaging, and a great opportunity to connect with your colleagues. Learn, think, enjoy and most of all connect with those around you; even with the great programme we have, the best thing you do today might be saying hello to the person next to you.

I look forward to speaking with you all throughout the day.

Thank you.