Barristers are guns for hire and so they should be. Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do the best they can for whoever hires them. We are all entitled to legal representation and if barristers are to retain their privileged position we should all be able to hire the one of our choice. No different to getting into a taxi actually except we don’t have to take the one at the front of the rank.
Hence, the extremely bad taste of the slant given in this AAP reportof the use by the Labor Party of Bret Walker, SC, to give an opinion on whether or not a proposed $25 million funding cut for union ballots would undermine a Coalition campaign promise to leave Labor’s work laws untouched. Barrister Walker apparently argued that cutting Australian Electoral Commission funding for industrial elections would change section 464 of the Fair Work Act — disputing contrary legal advice given to the Opposition. I have no idea whether the Walker advice to the ALP is right or wrong but to suggest, as the AAP story did, that he was not a barrister to be trusted because he has appeared for disreputable people, was more than a bit rough. That he “recently represented a bikie gang and an alleged Serbian war criminal in the High Court” is surely irrelevant.
If ever I have read a story designed to promote feelings of hatred, ridicule and contempt about a barrister, this is it.