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Independence of the Victorian Bar - members in revolt over support for The Voice

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I've received a number of notes from members of the Victorian Bar who are quite properly furious about their leadership's public support for Albanese's Voice.

This note is typical:

Dear colleague,

I write to you in response to the Bar’s forthcoming Poll on whether, in essence, the Victorian Bar should become involved in a political issue. 

I have been following with dismay the debate regarding the Bar Council’s apparent intention to support the ‘Voice’ and I am extremely concerned about the direction in which this will take the Victorian Bar, an organisation I love and of which I am very proud.  

While individual barristers are free to support any political issues as they see fit, the institution that is the Victorian Bar must remain staunchly independent and must be above politics.  We, as its members, must carefully guard its independence and be constantly vigilant and must not allow its independence to be compromised in any way. 

The Victorian Bar must be and remain ‘independent’ in the purest, truest meaning of that word.   

Its independence underpins the very high standing in which it is held by governments, the legal profession and, more generally, the community. That independence is why its views on issues such as the rule of law, legal aid funding and sentencing are listened to with great respect. 

Allowing the Victorian Bar to descend into political debate on any topic, as the Bar Council seems intent on doing, will erode the Bar’s standing and we, its members, should resist this at all costs. For the Bar Council to do this, contrary to its constitution and the Bar’s best interests, suggests arrogance. 

To retain the Bar’s independence, I urge you to vote at the forthcoming Poll and inform the Bar Council that you are against it committing the Victorian Bar to any political view on the Federal referendum.  

The Poll apparently opens on Wednesday, 31 May 2023.   

Kind regards,