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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2177

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - Mr President, I will proceed with the matters I have indicated on the basis that one of my colleagues will move the amendment to the motion so as to bring the matter before the Senate. I do not think that anyone will suggest that that is not order, because what could be done by leave could be done by amendment. The course I was endeavouring to follow has been pursued previously by leave, without any difficulty. I will be brief in my remarks because there is not much time. The matter of the proper regulation of the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory has been before the Senate on several occasions. The viewpoint of the Opposition is that such regulation is necessary. There are many valuable provisions in the Legal Practitioners Ordinance. There are provisions relating to trust accounts, discipline and so on. One matter which is concerning the Senate is the endeavour to provide a divided legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory.

On several occasions when this matter has been dealt with by the Senate, the Senate has expressed itself very firmly on it and has taken the view that the legal profession should not be split up into barristers on the one hand and solicitors on the other, or into a triangular profession, as appeared in one of the Ordinances - that is, barristers in one category, solicitors in another category, and barristers and solicitors in a third category. It was Senator Byrne who in 1969 referred to this split-up as making the law a triangular profession. Because of the very strong exception that was taken, the provisions in question were disallowed by the Senate on 22nd May 1969 by a vote of 29 to 20. The next attempt was the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1970 which, in most respects, resembled the 1969 Ordinance. Some of the provisions predicated on a separated profession in the earlier Ordinance were omitted in the second one and provision was made for admission to practice as a barrister and solicitor only - that is one category in the provision.

However, there are certain other provisions. A person whose name was on the roll of barristers and solicitors was expressly enabled to practise as a barrister and solicitor, as a barrister, or as a solicitor. The Ordinance expressly recognised the existence of the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association without controlling it in the same fashion as the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory. There were objections to that, and a number of sections and sub-sections of the Ordinance were disallowed by the Senate on 29th October 1970 by a vote of 25 to 23. The same matter has been reintroduced into the 1972 Ordinance, and that is the simple basis of the objections. The main provisions which lay the basis for the divided profession are contained in sections 10 and 11. If they are deleted there will still remain the valuable provisions relating to trust funds and discipline and the kinds of protective provisions to which we do not take exception. There would still be a few untidy references throughout the Ordinance which would be predicted on the separated profession.

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