Cab ranks, smears and Greens

By Legal Eagle

Let us remember that justice must be observed even to the lowest.

In my home State of Victoria, we are about to have an election. And the campaign just got dirty (dare I suggest, “dirtier than a brown coal fired coal station?”) Yesterday, the Sunday Herald Sun ran the following editorial regarding Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters SC:

The Greens are the self-appointed ethicists of the democratic system; the pious moral arbiters of Australian politics.

They loudly pride themselves on being more honest, more principled, than the major parties.

But today the Sunday Herald Sun reveals that one of the Greens’ leading candidates, Brian Walters – who is in prime position to beat Labor’s Bronwyn Pike in the seat of Melbourne – spent some time as a barrister representing the interests of the very industry the Greens want to shut down.

Mr Walters was senior counsel representing a company involved in the Yallourn coal mining industry – a big focus of the Greens’ election campaign.

The Greens want the Hazelwood power station using brown coal, recognised as one of the dirtiest energy sources in the world, closed down.

Mr Walters represented Downer EDI, which owns 44 per cent of RTL – the unincorporated joint venture that operates the Yallourn open-cut brown coal mine – in a case running in the Yarra Valley Court at Morwell over the death of a union official at a mine site.

Union delegate Richard Gauci was killed in 2005 while conducting maintenance on a conveyor belt, leaving behind his wife, Debra, and three daughters.

When asked during the week about his involvement in the case, Mr Walters said: “I have acted for all sorts of people in the course of my career.”

Asked if he saw any conflict of interest, he said: “I’ve got a duty as a barrister to accept briefs in an area in which I can practise. It would be an ethical breach for me to turn it down.”

Asked if he was strongly against the coal industry, he said: “Coal is great so long as it stays in the ground. There are ways of using coal that do keep it in the ground.”

And there lies the obvious hypocrisy.

Mr Walters is right that everyone deserves a legal defence and the right to a fair trial. After all, barristers can represent murderers and rapists without condoning the crimes.

But the Greens profess to inhabit the moral and ethical high ground and therefore must be held accountable.

Mr Walters has also confirmed some private investments in Queensland that appear to derive income from the coal mining industry.

The rise of the party is illustrated by the twists and turns the Labor and Liberal parties found themselves having to perform last week as they grappled with the issue of whether they would preference the Greens.

By any measure, a Greens candidate earning money by representing brown coal is a conflict of interest.

If Mr Walters genuinely believes brown coal mining is wrong, he should not be supporting the industry’s interests anywhere.

In addition, Mr Walters has come under fire for his representation of Konrad Kalejs, alleged former Nazi war criminal, and has been accused of anti-Semitism. There has been outcry from The Age in relation to the smear, but Jewish MP Michael Danby lashed Walters as a “wuss”.

I have to confess that on this issue, I agree with Jeremy Sear – it’s an easy, but misleading smear. It’s time to do LAWS101 YET AGAIN, apparently, although I’m glad to see that many bloggers around the traps seem to understand whatever their political stripe. I have explained elsewhere:

As for the problem of representing unpleasant people – I think that’s just something that lawyers have to explain better – everyone deserves a quality representation. And it’s not for the lawyer to decide whether or not their client’s story is true or not. That’s the job of the judge or jury.

…I think every lawyer (if they are honest with themselves) has been in a situation where he or she has not been entirely comfortable with representing a client, and in fact, lawyers may have been in situations where they are very uncomfortable with instructions. I guess that I saw my job as to not only represent the client, but try and make sure that the client made appropriate and sensible arguments. But I know there are other lawyers who disagree with my point of view – I had a heated argument one day with another lawyer who insisted that it is our duty to put any argument in the strongest manner possible, no matter how repugnant it may seem, because that is what we are being paid to do.

To be a lawyer, you have to divorce yourself from your own personal instincts and morality to an extent. That’s something that “normal” people find creepy and unpleasant, hence the jokes about blood-suckers and sharks etc. But this objectivity does allow us to see both sides of the argument. And usually, there are two sides of the argument – it’s very rare that things are clear-cut.

Put yourself in a defendant’s shoes. If you hire a lawyer, do you want one who presents a half-baked defence because she thinks you’re guilty? Or do you want one who does the best job she can regardless? The fact is that lawyers are paid by clients to put the best argument forward that they can, and if they don’t feel they can do that, they shouldn’t accept the client’s money.

…[U]ltimately, I think [lawyers will] always be regarded with a little distrust because of our ability to twist words and facts, and our ability to make the indefensible defensible. People don’t like to see the foundations of their assumptions rocked like that. It’s just something we have to live with.

The job of a lawyer is to administer the law according to your client’s instructions, no matter what his or her personal gut reaction or opinion on the matter is. It’s called the cab-rank rule. SL and I have been discussing the history of the rule off-blog, and she knows rather more about it than I. It has a very, very long history, beginning with Cicero. In Cicero’s time, a counsel’s personal relationship with his client was very important. When Cicero defended his former political enemy, Gabinius, in 54BC, he had to undertake a reditus in gratium or reconciliation with Gabinius before he could represent him, but he nevertheless did so.

Another famous instance of the rule occurred in 1821 when Lord Brougham represented Queen Caroline in her trial for adultery. He said:

[A]n advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and, amongst them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing this duty he must not regard the alarm, the torments, the destruction which he may bring upon others. Separating the duty of a patriot from that of an advocate, he must go on reckless of the consequences, though it should be his unhappy fate to involve his country in confusion.

Lord Brougham was willing to accuse the King of marrying a Roman Catholic (and therefore forfeiting the Crown) in order to defend his client if it proved necessary.

What is the reason for the cab rank rule? If lawyers could decide not to take on a client, then they fail to uphold the law. And that is what lawyers are there to do; it is not our job to decide in advance. We are also not the legislature, we don’t make the laws; we respect the separation of powers. If we don’t like the laws we have to apply…well, then we should go into Parliament and get a public mandate to change them…oh yeah, wait a second, that’s what Walters is actually doing

We’ve all had to administer the law in circumstances where we may disagree with the the law, or with our client, but what kind of lawyer would I be if I could just pick and choose the laws I want to apply? Or if I just chose only clients I liked and agreed with? Again I refer to Cicero — everyone has the right to representation. My personal politics and opinions should not prevent me from representing someone. Indeed, a barrister who refuses to take on a client because he finds the client offensive may find himself in very hot water. Have a look at this case where a deeply Christian barrister refused to represent a homosexual man on the basis that the man’s “lifestyle” contradicted his personal faith. He was found guilty of professional misconduct and reprimanded.

At Iain Hall’s place, he suggested in this post that Walters should perhaps say that he was “busy” or give some kind of excuse, as the rules allowed some latitude. I’m sorry, but any barrister who did that would risk being found guilty of professional misconduct. It’s not a tactic you could risk using more than once or twice, and you particularly couldn’t risk doing it if you weren’t busy. I wouldn’t think very much of a barrister who did that, and I don’t think any other lawyers I know would either. This sort of stuff gets around among firms of solicitors, believe me.

I respect Walters more rather than less because he agreed to represent the coal industry rather than make up some bullsh*t excuse. It indicates to me that he isn’t narrow-minded and doctrinaire, and he isn’t disingenous. Even if his opinion differs from that of the person who he represents, he can see the other side of the story. I am afraid that deep Greens of my acquaintance don’t fit that paradigm – as a gross generalisation, they have a tendency to spout slogans without thinking through the consequences (like the friend who told me I’d have to give up my asthma spray because it had CFCs in it, and when I said I’d die, she replied, “That’s just the price we have to pay for a clean environment.”) The Greens need more people like Walters if they’re to become a viable party in the long term.

To me, the problem lies not in Walters’ representation of coal-fired power stations, but of the doctrinaire attitude of some greenies who resist the development of coal-fired power stations under any circumstances (see eg, here or here). It’s that kind of uncompromising attitude which has screwed Walters up. I note that the Greens’ policies are somewhat more circumspect than some of the environmental groups, although they do say at point 14, “the major refurbishment of existing coal fired power stations undermines the effort to increase end-use energy efficiency, demand management and renewable energy”. Still, I hope that the more power they get, the more the Greens will learn about compromise.

Now, I’m not that keen on the Greens. I like their social policies, as I’m generally socially libertarian. But I don’t like the self-righteous mien of some Greens, and I don’t like the internally contradictory nature of their policies. Nonetheless, I think smear campaigns such as this are really wrong, and show a fundamental misunderstanding about what a lawyer’s job is. It’s clear I’m not alone. Blogs as varied as Catallaxy, Larvatus Prodeo and The Australian Professional Liability Blog all understand the importance of this basic legal principle, and have all spoken out against this particular campaign. I’d say that this particular tactic might backfire badly.


  1. Dallass Beaufort
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    A different perspective, slightly out side this square,

    I have no issue with barristers standing or winning seats to represent themselves as independents or their political parties, and do not fear their ability, in this case representing the greens. Vote for me election promises which involve others private property is my concern, when these elected and then so called accountable, prescribe through policy to redistribute others hard earned asset, to benefit themselves politically. And those same representatives, will be prosecuting their parties convictions and policies, whether they are right, wrong or just plain down right crazy or just public theft of the private enterprise.
    My on going beef with these so called political greens is their policy for taking, stealing by stealth, private property, supported by the redistributive, must keep dumping down, when running out of ideas or real effort, where the labor party, to gain the numbers, in this instance, under the guise of saving the koalas in Queensland, for their, not so pure environmental planning policies.
    And all along, they knew particular private property could never sustain or ever be environmentally sustainable, but campaigned and forced the weak supplicants within state and local councils to comply with their desires. Deals to just stay relevant. And where green labor continues their dumping, trans locating, (but never on their mates property) these poor starving little buggers, and these little critters continue starving via malnutrition or simply get run over trying to find something nutritious to eat, to survive on and stay alive. And the state will be dumping another 30, probably some with babies on their backs as the small ones don’t count. 15 years ago csiro quality research was presented which very politely suggested that depending on the natural soil fertility and nutrient levels that these animals would not survive in certain areas, but these apostles of good intention deny and ignore the plain facts. Restricting development because there are trees there, so the koalas must be their too, and so their university core co conspirators continue milking the taxpayer to benefit, forever, where doing research on what is needed to produce policies based on fundamental facts is not on, as this line of enquiry would highlight the waste of previous funding avenues and highlight corruption of the science if ever memory played a part. Save the planet and encumber the private owner with unworkable solutions. The truth gets buried under policies again. Now my family have done the right thing over 33 years, before the greens came along to improve their lot to deliver what is desired, balance. Now this is not a solicitation, or scream for pro bono support, I am just detailing my families war with these corrupt in a statement of facts and my determination not to give in to these miscreants who destroy others private property values for their own private shellfish benefits. Yes theirs, as theirs is not for the public good but only self-interest for the position and assuredly, the money, (and that’s on tape). And don’t ask me for a copy. Addendum: In 1993, a properly made application was made, which is ongoing through obfuscation, to deliver through a whole of government consultation process the whole set of desired outcomes, it is quiet simple, not a multi function polis extravaganza of spin but, a simple, sustainable mix of housing types including affordable and social which are not placed in isolation or clustered, a new development where good practical policy outcomes are yet to be delivered via an applicant who wants to do deliver what people really want.

  2. Henry2
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] You arent right about power generation from coal being able to ramp up and down. Each coal fired plant has an optimum rate of burn. This produces what we call base load power. Its cheap and constant. The additional load thats required through the day at various times is called peak. This is dearer to produce. Peak loads are best generated by gas and hydro. Gas doesnt take too long to fire up from idle to maximum generation. The best peak load is hydro; no waste at idle or stop and can go from nothing to flat out in only a few minutes. Intermittent production from solar and wind is expensive and very hard to balance against, usually by gas.
    Use of gas turbines for base load is stupid. Its dear and its like having a Ferrari to take 3 kids to and from school every day.

  3. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Peak loads are best generated by gas and hydro.

    There’s two types of efficiencies Henry. Engineering and economic efficiency. If something is more efficient engineering wise it does not automatically translate it’s also efficient economically.

    Gas peak would be very expensive compared to coal.

    And the more renewables they throw onto the grid the more unstable it becomes.

    This entire exercise is potentially going to be a trip to hell.

  4. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Permalink


    Here is economics Professor John Quiggin on Greens economic pollicy:

    “The Greens economic policy is, quite simply, the most coherent and intellectually-defensible document of its kind ever put forward by an Ausralian political party. At the level of broad principles, it begins with the recognition that economic policy must be financially, as well as environmentally and socially, sustainable. Far from seeking cheap popularity by arguing for both tax cuts and increased public expenditure, the Greens have insisted that public sector debt should be matched by adequate capacity to service debt, and that dubious financial expedients like the use of privatisation to reduce measured debt should be avoided. ”

    LE says:

    “My understanding is that by contrast, when we have coal generated power we can ramp up production when people need it most, and turn it down when people don’t need it.”

    Your understanding is hilariously wrong. It is very difficult to ramp up and down coal fired power stations, hence we have very cheap off peak power etc.. and business like aluminum smelters running at night to take adavntage of cheap electricty.

    “.. it’s when people are poor that they start getting the boot in..”

    But your very own let’s do nothing approach to AGW is premised on shafting the poor. A platoon of economists and scientists have shown that addressing AGW will have a negligible impact on economic growth, will cost much less than the Iraq War and that unless we do it, the poor are likely to die in their droves. Even the “Skeptical Environmentalist” himself, Lomborg, now accepts this. See here

  5. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    PLs release comment from moderation. Ta.

  6. Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Arguing about the Greens does not seem to be getting us very far. (Admittedly, I have already posted my analysis on why political correctness and environmentalism appeal so strongly to the same type of folk.) It is better to discuss particular policies.

    Such as Victorians indeed being very fortunate for all that brown coal which has so little alternate use, as [email protected] points out and makes excellent base load power, as [email protected] points out.

    [email protected] The doctor example is an excellent one.

    On legal representation, the decision mechanism is the court. For the decision mechanism to work properly, people need representation. The process of getting them representation should not pre-empt the decision mechanism of the court because that would make whether or not they get representation to a significant degree the effective decision mechanism, thereby subverting the role of the court.

    After all, one of the basic complaints about the court system is the expense, which advantages those with deep pockets for precisely that reason. (Though much of the expense is due to the state as monopoly provider under-supplying adjudication services: the number of judges/magistrates per x people was actually much higher in the medieval period, when court systems generally ran at a profit and there were, in effect, competing systems.)

    [email protected] That barristers develop expertise I don’t think makes as much of a difference. That is about who the brief gets offered to, not whether the barrister has the right to turn it down. If you like, which cab rank they are on, not whether there is a cab rank.

    Even if the lawyer in question developed his expertise after becoming politically active, it is not clear to me that would determine which side of such cases we would tend to represent, since any such expertise would apply in both directions (so to speak).

    [email protected]: I am not planning to post on this, but, if I do, I will let you know.

    [email protected]: Your civilised naivete is touching but, alas, a sweet illusion.

  7. Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    That should read “they would represent”.

    [email protected] Anything with more than one link gets place in moderation: one just gets used to it.

  8. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    LE says:

    “I don’t think solar or wind is going to be workable in the long term.”

    Again this is almost hysterically wrong and I note it comes just days after Google announces it will be investing in a $5 billion off shore wind farm in the US:

    Even hard-headed China is investing in huge off shore windpower projects and Europe is on target to get 1/5th of its power from offshore windfarms by 2030:

  9. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo says:

    “Such as Victorians indeed being very fortunate for all that brown coal which has so little alternate use …”

    Sigh. It is exceedingly well known that brown coal can be employed efficaciously as a fertiliser.

    I’m beginning to get bored by the the general lack of even elementary environmental knowledge on this site, guys. This is one of the reasons why I stopped commenting on this site for about six months earlier this year. Willful ignorance is simply boring.

  10. Henry2
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink


    Construction is slated to begin on the backbone in 2013, but even before there are wind farms to plug into the grid, the transmission backbone will serve a purpose — carrying electricity from Virginia, where it’s relatively cheap, to places like New York and New Jersey, where it’s far more expensive

    This sounds like its purely a transmission service. Google aren’t investing in the wind turbines at all.



  11. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Again this is almost hysterically wrong and I note it comes just days after Google announces it will be investing in a $5 billion off shore wind farm in the US

    What exactly are the subsidies that go with that and why is Google, a web based firm investing money completely out of its ambit?

    Did you read the link you posted Mel? It says Google energy is seeding it with an initial investment of $200 million that could eventually turn into 37% of a $5 billion project. It’s hardly $5 billion as you suggested. and for a firm earning $7 billion it’s a drop in the ocean.

    Even hard-headed China is investing in huge off shore windpower projects and Europe is on target to get 1/5th of its power from offshore windfarms by 2030:

    Umm yes and they also have 62 nuclear reactors panned by 2030, which is the best peak load and base load system that can respond to the wind dying off and a cloudy day.

    China is also building a coal fired plant per week.

    But hey, if the subsidy urchins are so good let them exist without subsidies. Right?

  12. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. It is exceedingly well known that brown coal can be employed efficaciously as a fertiliser.

    No it’s not, it’s experimental and like most things it may succeed or fail.

    But so what. If brown coal can be eventually used as a fertilizer what has that exactly got to do with the price of electricity.

    I’m beginning to get bored by the the general lack of even elementary environmental knowledge on this site, guys. This is one of the reasons why I stopped commenting on this site for about six months earlier this year. Willful ignorance is simply boring

    Dos that mean we’re seeing here around April? Mel , have a great Xmas and a good new years. See you then, then.

  13. Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] And I am sure brown coal can be used as land fill too, if you make sure it’s wet and doesn’t spontaneously combust. I seriously doubt brown coal’s value as fertiliser is anywhere near as great as its value as energy source since, if it were, then the coal miners would sell it as fertiliser: they’re in it for the profit, after all.

    The thing about brown coal is that it is very difficult to ship significant distances in quantity (it has this tendency to combust) so, unlike black coal, the local users are not competing on the global market with alternative buyers. Hence the low price.

    If you are going to get all snooty, some elementary commercial and economic understanding would be helpful.

    I am familiar with what I call “the Catholic mode of reasoning”, where the conclusion gets to determine the ambit of its premises. Their self-righteousness when they wield it is not endearing either.

    Posted November 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Most sensible comment here, if one gets it right is modest 49.
    For the rest of you, get your minds above your wallets.
    Mel, onya for fighting the good fight.

  15. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s not really a fight as such Paul. It’s just a discussion that seems to have gone a little wayward but worthwhile all the same.

    It’s not even tribal as you seem to allude to with your poor imitation of a Collingwood supporter.

    I’m looking to see if I’m wrong on anything I’ve said, but it doesn’t appear so although if I am I would be happy to admit it.

  16. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Falso, Lorenzo.

    Currently brown coal energy use is effectively subsidised as it does not pay for all its externalities like health costs associated with air pollution. According to one Canadian study:

    “The study found a relationship between increased air pollution due to coal-fired electricity generation and up to 668 premature deaths, 928 hospital admissions, 1,100 emergency room visits and 333,660 minor illnesses such as headaches, coughing and other respiratory symptoms, per year.

    The study compared the financial, health and environmental costs of four different scenarios of electricity generation in Ontario. With an annual cost of $4.4 billion, coal-fired electricity generation is significantly more expensive than the other options considered, the study found. ”

    Then we have the costs associated with AGW, which need to be factored in via a carbon tax or emissions trading.

    If brown coal externalities were properly factored into costs, brown coal would be used more as a fertiliser. Also note that fertiliser costs have been rising rapidly, so this alternative use for brown coal becomes more attractive with each passing year.

  17. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink


    I think you’d agree that it confuses things if you’re crossing the Pacific and then quickly bringing up cases that may or may not have happened there and somehow suggest it ought to be incorporated in our own assessment of coal costs.

    What exactly are the costs here?

    Electricity energizes around $1 trillion of GDP. Are you suggesting coal fired plants true costs make this uneconomic production? Seriously?

    I don’t think there is anyone here who’s complaining about using brown coal as a fertilizer here, Mel, so it seems you’re having that argument with yourself.

    Coal as a fertilizer? Fuck yea bring it on.

  18. JC
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    You also need to factor in the costs of subsidizing solar and wind Mel and let us know what that cost works out to.

  19. Posted November 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    This thread, in case y’all hadn’t noticed, started as a thread about the cab rank rule and the separation of powers, stuff about which both LE and I can be reckoned to be reasonably expert.

    We are not expert on everything. Nor do we aspire to be.

    As you may have noticed, I seldom comment about environmental issues. This is because I find them singularly uncompelling.

    If I have anything to say about the green movement, it concerns what appears to me (and which Lorenzo has already alluded to) to be a failure to grasp the most basic economic issues. Much of the alternative energy being touted may well work — I don’t know, I’m not an engineer. However, making a top-down ‘call’ on where and how to invest represents ‘industry policy’ as its worst. ‘Industry policy’ often leads to things like this:

    Now it is possible to have a kairetsu economy (the Japanese MITI system), and it is possible to ‘pick winners’, but it is very hard to do and fails more than it succeeds — see, for instance, Japan’s ‘lost decade’.

    That said, where industry policy has been a success, I think it should be copied. France adopted nuclear power in the 1970s, and is now in the position to tell Putin & co where to go. Yes, it was state-sponsored industry policy. But it succeeded. So, if we want to go ‘green’, we have a working system to emulate.

    There is no need to reinvent the wheel, like so many of the greenies want to do.

  20. Mel
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink


    Your article says the Korean company Hyundai built and never used a factory in Scotland. It says nothing about industry policy.

  21. Posted November 3, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yes, there are externalities to coal, though it rather depends on local rules and their enforcement as well as population size and densities. But externalities are a “one in, all in” matter. Are you going to factor in the externalities of more expensive energy too?

    And yes, prices can change. I seriously doubt that our current level of energy generation technology is the last word. So, at some point, other uses of coal may well become more valuable. Victoria still benefits greatly from the fact that brown coal is not a practical export and so has lower prices.

    [email protected]

    For the rest of you, get your minds above your wallets.

    A truly puerile comment. You have no idea where people on this thread get their income from and whether it would go up or down depending on various policy positions.

    The point being argued is a much larger one about total income and available resources: remembering that falls in total income fall disproportionately on the economically vulnerable. Besides, since environmentalism is patently a “luxury good” (support for “environmental concern” does up disproportionately with income and down disproportionately with falls in income), prosperity is something environmentalists should be in favour of. (Which might be why Green voters are mildly less in favour of more regulation of banks than ALP or Coalition voters: though it also might be that they do not think banks do much damage to Gaia.)

  22. Posted November 3, 2010 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    [email protected] SL was using an example: I suspect there were some inducements originally offered to Hyundai, but that is beside the point. The wider point is a well-known one: there have been a lot of “white elephants” and failures in industry policy. MITI, for example, was a lot less successful than is usually claimed, since many of the success areas in Japanese exports were pursued against MITI policy, not following it.

    [ADMIN: Yes, the Hyundai plant locally was paid for by the Scottish taxpayer, in a failed attempt to encourage high tech investment. It’s become pretty notorious around these parts].

  23. Posted November 3, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Back to cab-rank… Yesterday’s Age showed the ALP defending their dirty tricks department (funded by we taxpayers I add, not their party funds), with the attorney-general pooh-poohing the position in this post.

    There are similar issues with strident catholic doctors, particularly in small country towns.

    By the very nature of criminal law, the accusation is of an anti-social act (except where the law is against majority opinion, euthanasia being one example), so if you are to have just trials, the public must demand something as effective as the cab-rank rule.

    Where is Horace Rumpole when we need him?

  24. Peter Patton
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink


    That barristers develop expertise I don’t think makes as much of a difference. That is about who the brief gets offered to, not whether the barrister has the right to turn it down. If you like, which cab rank they are on, not whether there is a cab rank.

    Even if the lawyer in question developed his expertise after becoming politically active, it is not clear to me that would determine which side of such cases we would tend to represent, since any such expertise would apply in both directions (so to speak).

    I agree. Thus my point was that his taking the case no doubt had little to do with the ‘cab rank rule’. He took the case without a moment’s hesitation, coz that’s the kinda work he always does. Those who admire his deference to professional ethical standards, the ROL blah, blah, blah, are probably being taken for a ride by the halo effect the Greens have so successfully cultivated about themselves. 😉

    Posted November 3, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    LE, sorry to here of your loss.
    I don’t get your attack on Mel.
    “other people prioritise things differently than you”,
    could be a charge more appropriately laid at the foot of Mel’s hardcore and intolerant critics.
    Why do something that avoids damaging the environment, when you can do something that smashes the environment, simply to prove to Greens and anyone else conscious enough to be concerned, that you’ll do what you want, regardless of what harm anywhere else to anyone else; after Gunns in Tasmania for example,
    If I had a dollar for every time the “anti development” charge has been iterated and rebutted with, “not development, but unsustainable development”.
    I’ll go back to my original point.
    If so many of these projects are so marv ellous and harmless, why are the details hidden and suppressed and why is the science so often ignored or likewise suppressed?
    It’s one thing to have a point of view; another thing to inflict the consequences of that point of view onothers, as developers with politicians in thei rpockets, have the power to do.
    Do you think a sane person should want to see a park destroyed or river, just so some tostesterone driven developer can score more conspicuous consumption, to shore up his ego and lack of self reflexivity and regardless of the affect of the resulting pollution, becasuse a kneecapped EPA system wasnt allowed to discover a deliberately obscured problem and draw attention to it?

  26. derrida derider
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Never mind that lawyers can’t choose clients, clients can choose lawyers. I’ve always wondered about clients who choose unsympathetic lawyers – what, for example, was that gay man thinking in hiring a reluctant homophobe? Of course, if it was Legal Aid or similar he may have had no choice.

    Were I Walters I would merely have said something to the client along the lines of “Well of course I am bound to take your case if you wish it, and in that case I would of course do my best whatever my private views, But there are plenty of other lawyers who could do a better job than me – for example my friend xxx”.

    But then perhaps he just needed the work.

  27. Posted November 3, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Like Mel, I’m out of here too. You hijacked the thread yourself, LE. The issue wasn’t one for green-bashing but you couldn’t resist. Of course that sort of nonsense is going to get a response, so both you and SL are being too precious by half about the nasty greenies picking on you. You’ve got the nerve to upbraid Mel for taking you and your camp followers on, and then allow extremist nonsense from the likes of JC a free pass . You’re even-handed in neither word nor deed.

    I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t so bloody obvious.

  28. JC
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Paul… Fresh out of reading the pro- Leninist op-ed from Green left weekly?

    Here’s a chore for you, Griswald.

    Carefully and clearly explain to people what exactly do you mean by “sustainable development”? Keep in mind that these days the word “sustainable” is perhaps them most abused word in the left’s language so it would be nice of you to tell us exactly what you mean. Precisely so.

    And while you’re there also tell us why you think you should have a right to dictate what your neighbor can do with his property and why you should have such dictatorial powers over others.


    Posted November 3, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    JC, see you are your usual contructive best: no adhominems, no smears or abuse, just straight to issues and substances.
    What a blessing you are.

  30. Posted November 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Do you think a sane person should want to see a park destroyed or river, just so some tostesterone driven developer can score more conspicuous consumption

    Don’t worry about that Paul, we are dumping so many endocrine disruptors, particularly estrogenic compounds, and possibly even anti-androgenic compounds, into the general environment that soon enough testosterone may be in short supply.

  31. JC
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink


    Please be precise. What exactly do you mean by “sustainable development”?