President’s Welcome to Law Summer School 2017
Welcome by Alain Musikanth, President of the Law Society of Western Australia, at the Opening of Law Summer School 2017, The University Club, Friday, 17 February 2017
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Law Summer School 2017.
I would like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Before continuing, I wish to welcome in particular our distinguished guests who join us today. They include the Hon Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, 31st Governor of Western Australia; Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Commonwealth Attorney General; the Hon Christian Porter, Commonwealth Minister for Social Services; the Hon Justice Rene Le Miere, the Hon Justice Kenneth Martin, the Hon Justice Janine Pritchard and the Hon Justice Joseph McGrath, all of the Supreme Court of Western Australia; Ms Margaret Quirk MLA, Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Bushfire Preparedness, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, Seniors and Ageing; his Honour Chief Judge Kevin Sleight and his Honour Judge Chris Stevenson, of the District Court of Western Australia; District Registrar Martin Jan PSM of the Federal Court of Australia; and Registrar Rainer Gilich of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
It is a pleasure to welcome you today to the Law Society’s first major event for 2017. This year we celebrate 90 years since the Society’s foundation. Law Summer School has been an important part of that history.
Summer School has provided generations of Western Australian legal practitioners with the opportunity to learn from, and debate with, the most eminent of local, national and international presenters.
The origins of this event may be traced back to September 1960, when the University of Western Australia informed the Law Society of its intention to hold a three day Summer School. In November of that year, Sheila McClemans, the Law Society’s first female Chief Executive Officer (an office then styled ‘Secretary – with a capital ‘S’), wrote to the Faculty of Law to convey the Society’s support for such a conference. Sheila, a barrister and former naval officer, suggested that the conference be held in February. ‘Taxation’ was suggested as the topic, and it was proposed that a fee in the sum of £3 3/- be charged to participants.
The first Law Summer School was duly held in the following year. Sheila was instrumental in organising it. The conference received prominent coverage in the local press and was by all accounts a resounding success. After the inaugural conference in 1961, Law Summer School became an annual feature of the Perth legal calendar for more than 30 years. Although, as the veterans here today will recall, there was something of an hiatus starting in the mid-1990’s, which lasted for a little over a decade, the conference was revived again in 2006 when it, once again, became an annual event.
Over the decades Summer School has seen a parade of some of the leading legal figures of their time grace the conference with their presence. They have included (to name but a few): Sir Francis Burt; Sir Ninian Stephen; Sir Gerard Brennan; Justice Michael McHugh; Lord Justice Sir Paul Kennedy; Chief Justice Wayne Martin; Malcolm McCusker QC; Dame Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New Zealand; and Professor Catharine MacKinnon.
Today at Law Summer School we examine Australia’s Place in the World. The election of Donald Trump, ‘Brexit’ and the continued rise of China as an economic and military power all present challenges and potential opportunities for Australia.
We have gathered some 25 leading legal minds to examine the implications for Australia and the effect on legal practice and our system of justice. Thank you to all of our chairs and presenters – particularly those who have travelled vast distances to be here.
Thank you too to our sponsors, whose generous support has once again enabled the Law Society to make Law Summer School successful. (Our sponsors this year are Marsh, Thomson Reuters, Unisearch Expert Opinion Services, LEAP Legal Software and legalsuper.)
This conference is the culmination of a great deal of effort by the Law Summer School Committee comprising Associate Professor John Fiocco (Convenor), the Hon Justice Janine Pritchard, Brahma Dharmananda SC, Elizabeth Needham, Professor Erika Techera, Penny Carruthers, Alex Noonan and Áine Whelan. The Society owes each member of the committee a deep debt of gratitude as it does to all of the staff at the Law Society who have been involved in the organisation of this conference.
Finally, thank you to you, our delegates, for registering and attending this event.