Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1791 ..
MS FOLLETT (continuing):
I think it is extraordinary, if I could end on a frivolous note, that Mr Humphries has taken such exception to the removal of the Queen from our oath when it is he who has brought before this Assembly a piece of legislation designed to abolish the office of queen's counsel. Obviously, he does not always feel that updating to the reality of either the professional situation or the constitutional situation is inappropriate. He has taken that action himself, and it is my view that he should take it on this occasion and on this matter as well.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.14): I must rise on that note. I think I might have said on the occasion on which I introduced the legislation - not to abolish queen's counsel but to abolish the Government's role in the appointment of queen's counsel - that I regretted having to do that. As an avowed monarchist, I would like to be able to preserve the capacity of our community to appoint people with the title of queen's counsel. The point I made is that the Government should not have a role in anointing particular practitioners at the bar of the ACT as being specially qualified people who deserve higher status than other people.
Ms Follett: The office will no longer exist, though.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed it will not; but, unfortunately, we cannot provide for people to be appointed as queen's counsel other than by the Government.
Mr Connolly: Yes, you could.
MR HUMPHRIES: No, that is not true.
Mr Connolly: You could devolve the power to the Chief Justice.
Ms Follett: Why do you not get the Law Society to do it?
MR HUMPHRIES: We could have other government instrumentalities doing it; that is true. If Ms Follett would care to read my speech at the time, she would see that I made reference to all of this. It is possible, of course, for the Chief Justice to do it or for there to be some other court-sanctioned process; but, again, it is an agent of government sanctioning certain people as being better qualified and having a higher status than other people in the community. I am sure that Mr Connolly will rise in a few weeks' time to support the legislation. I am sure that he will do so on the basis that governments should not be involved in appointing certain sorts of barristers, any more than we have queen's solicitors or queen's doctors or queen's accountants or queen's pharmacists, or whatever it might be. Governments should not be playing favourites amongst the work force.