QUEENSLAND Attorney-General Rod Welford last week moved to quell any suggestion his Legal Services Commission (LSC) would commence behind schedule by advertising for the top watchdog position in the national press.
A total remuneration package of almost $700,000 is on offer to the successful applicant, who, it is envisaged, will serve out a five-year term as the independent regulator’s inaugural chief.
“We want to get this important reform up and running as quickly as possible,” Welford said. “I have decided to begin this national search for the Legal Services Commissioner at this time so we can get the right person for the job as early as possible in 2004.”
Controversy surrounding the LSC, establishment of which was first announced in May, flared again this month when the Queensland Law Society (QLS) took issue with certain provisions of the proposed legislation giving effect to the watchdog.
Pursuant to the newly introduced Legal Profession Bill 2003, the QLS will lose all enshrined rights to investigate and conduct complaints against members and will have no role to play in prosecuting matters.
Critical of the Bill’s details, QLS president Glenn Ferguson recently hinted that the LSC, which will instead receive all complaints, may not commence in early 2004 as originally planned.
The Government has since rejected any suggestion the LSC would not appear until later next year and, in announcing the search for a commissioner had commenced, Welford took aim at the Society.
“Queenslanders have no confidence in the current system of lawyers judging lawyers and the sooner we introduce the changes, the better,” he said.
Applications for the top position close on 8 December. A spokesperson told Lawyers Weekly that other staffing arrangements for the LSC would commence upon selection of the successful applicant.
Although advertisements mentioned a “small” team of staff, the spokesperson refused to concede any numerical inferences could be drawn as to the size of the LSC.