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Law Council of Australia

Business Law Section

2021 December - Message from the Chair

In my first message I want to pay tribute to Greg Rodgers, my predecessor in this role, who has presided over the BLS during COVID-19 – a once-in-a-century event that has tested everyone. It has challenged us in so many ways both financially and logistically and Greg has had to lead the way with solutions and ideas which have seen us survive without losing too much skin off our shins.

Everyone has risen to the occasion adapting, often at short notice, to operating online for committee meetings, Executive meetings, workshops and podcast recording. I hope I’m not tempting fate by suggesting that the worst of the global pandemic is behind us but the legacy remains in the form of online meetings that many now prefer to physical meetings – although the occasional in-person meetup is now more highly valued than before.

Greg also took the initiative of leading us to develop a new strategic plan which will guide the BLS through challenging times over the next few years.

The Plan can be viewed here and I do urge all who are contemplating activities for the BLS to seek to identify in the Plan a touchstone for their proposal.

Of course our submissions are our bread and butter and, although I have only occupied the Chair for a few weeks, I have been struck by the prodigious effort of so many of our committees and working groups on a diverse range of submissions. Greg’s September Message included the statistical proof of our Committees’ output so I won’t repeat that here, but since then the production of high calibre and high quality submissions has continued apace.

I am particularly struck by the value that is placed on our work product by public officials, parliamentary committees, regulators and many others. It is why we put so much effort into ensuring that our contributions maintain a high standard and remain altruistic and objective to ensure that partisan viewpoints are not unconsciously included. Given that our Committee members are the leading practitioners in their fields it is natural that their clients’ perspectives are top of mind, but all of us understand the importance of ensuring that our submissions ae scrupulously balanced and thoughtful, reflecting both the professionalism we practise as well as the values of the Law Council as a body.

The practical value of our coalface experience overlays our intellectual contributions ensuring that proposals are reality tested by those who eat, sleep and breathe the subject matter. We are well placed to spot likely unintended consequences and assist policymakers to avoid them. Despite the often impossible deadlines imposed on our submissions I am impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of those who contribute, not to mention the enormous effort of the Law Council’s CEO and Policy Director who read everything to ensure that what we do is coherent and consistent with all constituent interests and, of course, the public interest, to which as professionals we give primacy.

I also acknowledge the fabulous support we receive from Jessica Morrow and Kay Barney, without whom the BLS could not function.

On behalf of Professor Pamela Hanrahan, our new Deputy Chair, and Adrian Varrasso, our new Treasurer, and all of the BLS Executive, I wish the compliments of the season to our members and look forward to catching up with everyone during my tenure – at least virtually if not in person. Have a healthy and prosperous 2022 and as relaxing a break between now and then as circumstances permit.

Philip Argy
Business Law Section



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