Earlier today the International Bar Association published this report:
It makes for salutary reading, particularly for Australian practitioners.
The International Bar Association chose women's champion Julia Gillard to write the report's Foreword.
Gillard starts by pointing to the most urgent problems affecting women around the world:
... women being safe and having their sexual autonomy respected (is) the most pressing problem.
The most cited problem was sexual harassment, with sexual violence coming second and physical violence third.
...(this is a) global cry for change, for a world in which women and girls do not fear rape, beatings or predatory conduct at work.
As the #MeToo movement has shown, women are no longer prepared to be silent.
The demands for deep-seated reform are insistent and determined. After all this activity, the world cannot lapse back into shameful silence.
Gillard waxes lyrical about theories and surveys - but in her own Labor backyard, she and her Labor colleagues have delivered nothing but "shameful silence" to Kathy Sherriff. Shameful silence suits Shorten - so that's what Kathy Sherriff is getting.
The hypocrisy would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.
Gillard talks about the legal profession's privileged role in advocating for and ushering in change. That same privileged position applies to political leaders.
Gillard writes that there's only one way that those privileged few can bring change and remove the "shameful silence":
...they can only step up to this role with integrity if they make sure their own house is in order. This is challenging where the most senior (leaders) still tend to be disproportionately men and advancement is often as much about networks as measurable merit. But it can and must be done.
Step up to the role with integrity?
Make sure their own house is in order?
Gillard and crew have a great opportunity to show they mean what they say.
But rather than take that opportunity, Gillard's given her absolute support to Shorten in his bid to become Prime Minister this weekend.
No wonder we have so little faith in our institutions when those institutions are led by people like Gillard and co!
PS - Horacio Bernardes Neto is the President of the International Bar Association.
It's ironic that his introduction to the report is on the page following Gillard's!
Since there has been a legal profession, there have been requirements that its practitioners be of good character. Aristotle, speaking of the Athenian orators that laid the early foundation for the modern practice of law, identified the need for ‘good moral character’. In the fifth century, the Roman Theodosian Code demanded that advocates be of ‘suitable character’, with ‘praiseworthy’ past careers. A 1605 British statute required lawyers to be ‘skilful’ and ‘honest’. The importance of prospective lawyers demonstrating more than just technical competence manifests today in character obligations as a prerequisite for admission to legal practice in most jurisdictions globally.
Legal professionals have long held an exalted status, as defenders of freedom, liberty and all else that flows from those fundamental values. ‘From a profession charged with such responsibilities,’ great Austrian-American jurist Felix Frankfurter once wrote, ‘there must be exacted those qualities of truth-speaking, of a high sense of honor, of granite discretion, of the strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility, that have, throughout the centuries, been compendiously described as “moral character”.’ I implore the legal profession to heed this report’s recommendations.
If the law is to remain in proper standing with the global community, its practitioners must be of good character.
Gillard and good character, truth-speaking, strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility?
Like I said, no wonder we're a little lacking in faith in our leaders!