FIGHTING FOR law reform from an ever-expanding membership base is the chief aim of new Australian Law Alliance (ALA) national president Ian Brown.
Brown will draw on his 13-year association with the ALA, from inception to consecutive terms as Queensland president, along with work done with former patients and families of ex-Bundaberg Hospital doctor Jayant Patel.
“With issues like the Dr Haneef issue, the David Hicks issue, the anti-terror laws generally, the suggested repeal of the double jeopardy laws in Queensland, the issues surrounding the provocation defence — these are all issues that criminal lawyers and civil libertarians are looking to have a voice on,” Brown said.
“My view is that the [ALA] can and should be providing that voice.”
The ALA has recently changed its mission statement in order to broaden its appeal to criminal lawyers, among others.
Brown said winding back tort reforms continued to be a focus, however, it was difficult to mobilise support.
“The problem with tort law reform generally is that it’s extremely hard to get widespread support, because nobody imagines that they are ever going to be injured,” he said.
“There is a lack of interest, certainly by the media. It’s not newsworthy.” He said those who had been injured were also often reluctant to talk about what they’d been through, so it remained “a dry topic, because by and large it’s a financial topic arguing about crunching numbers and actuarial analysis”.
Brown said that a large number of criminal lawyers had joined the ALA in Victoria in recent times.
As well as issues affecting criminal lawyers, the ALA’s expanded mission includes elder law and immigration law.