Territory Stories

The Northern Territory news Sat 23 Jan 2010



The Northern Territory news Sat 23 Jan 2010

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NT news


The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT




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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited



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www.ntnews.com.au Northern Territory News, Saturday, January 23, 2010 29 P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 2 3 -J A N -2 0 1 0 P A G E : 2 9 C O L O R : K Are you interested in caring for the environment? Conservation and Land Management involves working with plants and animals, natural resources, cultural heritage sites, and within the parks and wildlife sector. Certifi cates II, III, IV and Diploma in Conservation and Land Management are on offer in 2010. Classes start at the Palmerston campus on Monday 8 February at 8.30am. Courses cover skills such as: Plant and animal identifi cation Weed management Revegetation Machinery such as chainsaws, quad bikes, brushcutters and 4x4 Land Management planning First Aid and OHS Map reading and operating in remote locations Biological surveys National Park operations If you are already working in this industry, please call to discuss your options for Workplace Assessments or Recognition of Prior Learning. To enrol and for more information P: 8946 7867 E: volker.mischker@cdu.edu.au www.cdu.edu.au judiciary prejudice Hopefully not everything in the Territory isalways going to be exactly the same. I for one fervently hope that the number of serious criminal cases heard by the Court in Alice Springs does not remain the same. FOND FAREWELL: Justice David Angel reflects on his career as the longest-serving judge in the Northern Territory This not only seems undemocratic but it also appears to involve conflicts of interest. I wonder at the uniform Legal Practitioners Act which contains more sections than the number of legal practitioners in the NT. Surely this is some indication that something may be amiss. I wonder whether other Territorians wonder about the things that I wonder about. After all, it was Socrates who said: Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. In 1994 I had the great experience of working in the commercial division of the New South Wales Supreme Court. It was part of an exchange organised between Asche CJ and the then Chief Justice of New South Wales, Murray Gleeson ... This Court has always had the benefit of Judges from interstate participating in its work. I am sitting with amongst others today Olsson AJ, who continues to do sterling work for the Court. The idea for some reason fell away after Gleeson CJs appointment to the High Court. It has never been explained to me or to anyone else that I am aware as to why this reciprocal arrangement was dropped. However, there is now renewed interest in the idea of cross fertilisation between Supreme Courts of the states. One of the great advantages of the Federal Court, which I remind everyone is not a court of general jurisdiction, is that they do sit all round Australia and I think it is a very healthy thing for Judges to sit elsewhere than in their home state. There are many people whom I must thank today. I record my debt to two particular mentors, each of whom I mentioned when I was first appointed, the first being the Hon Robert Fisher QC, a former Judge of the Federal Court. It was he who taught me that many a good case was ruined by the facts. It was he who taught me that equity prevailed over the common law. At my retirement sitting late last year in Alice Springs, one of the counsel I suppose they thought they were giving me a compliment said that I was a good common lawyer. Bob Fisher would have been appalled. He agreed with Gummow J, namely, that the lifeblood of equity should not be clogged by the cholesterol of the common law. The other mentor that I wish to mention is Robert Newenham Irwin, the senior partner of Piper, Bakewell and Piper. It was he who taught me not to treat a law degree as simply a passport to making money. I wish to thank all those who helped me along the way in my career. (The judge thanked his colleagues, associates, and staff and managers of the courts.) I wish to acknowledge and thank the legal profession. As I have said, I have always enjoyed a cordial relationship with the profession, in particular those who have toiled before me in Court. Co-operation between Bench and Bar and between the barristers at the Bar is indispensable to the proper and timely disposal of Court business. As Thomas J said on her retirement last year, we in the Northern Territory are wellserved by the legal profession. There is a healthy participation by interstate counsel, often senior counsel in large cases in the Territory and, as we all know, competition sharpens the edge. I wish to thank members of the Court, both past and present, with whom I have worked for their help and solicitude, and for putting up with me. The Court is in good hands and I wish the Court well for the future. On the verge of his 60th birthday, Noel Coward wrote to a friend: I dont write plays for the idea of giving some great thought to the world and that isnt just coy modesty. As one gets older, one doesnt feel quite so strongly anymore. One discovers that everything is always going to be exactly the same with different hats on. Hopefully not everything in the Territory is always going to be exactly the same. I for one fervently hope that the number of serious criminal cases heard by the Court in Alice Springs does not remain the same. One despairs at the volume and gravity of Aboriginal offending there. Kings Counsel, VilleneuveSmith, the leader of the South Australia Bar at the time in the 1940s gave an after dinner speech in the course of which he said the following: I share pride in the profession to which we belong. Indeed I think too little praise has been bestowed upon members of the legal profession while elaborate eulogies are poured upon judges whom people are prone to regard as particularly exalted persons. People seem to overlook the fact that judges were once lawyers. It is indeed strange that where the chrysalis was so evil, the butterfly should be so immaculate. Not that one should liken a judge to anything so ephemeral and polychromatic as a butterfly. An eminent physician psychoanalysing a judge has remarked: You can lay bare the soul of a judge in all its repellent nudity by the simple process of reading one of his judgments. The idea has much to commend it, but what this physician has only lately discovered by scientific methods, we long knew by empiricism. Villeneuve-Smith was a very wise man. Of course, Judges are not eulogised any more, let alone elaborately. Indeed they are treated as fair game by certain elements of the press. It has always struck me as strange that journalists untrained in the law appear to have little or no difficulty in correcting legal decisions by Judges trained in the law, and all this when the law is ever-increasingly difficult. One thing that can harm the administration of justice is the absence of public criticism by people who know and an over-abundance of criticism by the ill-informed. Ill-informed criticism of the judiciary can be very damaging to what is, after all, a very vital institution of democracy. Now that Attorneys-General have abdicated their traditional role of defending the judiciary from attack, it is incumbent on the legal profession to play its part in helping to educate politicians and the media, and the public, about the true role of an independent legal profession and an independent judiciary and their proper place in our western democracy and the reality that they are the ultimate safeguards of individual liberty. The Judicial Conference of Australia has, as one of its roles, advocacy for the judicial arm of government, but the profession has a vital role to play as well. I am firmly of the view that the role of the judiciary should be a compulsory part of all secondary school curricula. It should also be a compulsory part of any journalists education. I very much appreciate the compliment you have paid me by your attendance today. Once again I thank the speakers for their generous remarks.