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Law Council of Australia


The hard-fought arc to justice: Opening Address to the National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference

Speech delivered by Arthur Moses SC, President, Law Council of Australia at the 7th National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, Canberra, 14 March 2019.

"This biennial conference provides an important forum to develop, test and share ideas and perspectives on access to justice and pro bono matters. This is the first year the conference has been held in Canberra, and with a federal election looming, it is a fitting time to be discussing access to justice, just down the hill from Parliament House.

In early 1901, a newly federated Australia was preparing to go to the polls for the first time. In his campaign speech, the nation’s first Prime Minister Edmund Barton spoke of the importance of raising up institutions. Institutions, he said, “Under which justice shall be done to all”.

Barton’s Australia needed a nation-building agenda. 118 years and 45 Parliaments later, as we prepare for the 2019 Federal Election, Australia needs a restorative agenda. An agenda to restore public confidence and faith in our traditional institutions, from our parliaments to our justice system, our courts, our judiciary and even our legal profession. Because we know the unfortunate reality is that justice is not accessible to all Australians today.

Legal assistance in Australia is in a dire state, and in need of urgent review and reform. Some of our most vulnerable people are slipping through the cracks. With your help, we at Law Council are committed to working with you to change that reality. We know this is no easy feat but it must be done..."

You can read the full speech below.


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