Stephen might still be working his butt off, but for the next three
months
I’m
a lady of leisure and enjoy perusing the papers each day.
However,
yesterday I
became incandescent with rage on reading Mike Steketee’s profile of NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib in The Australian.

Boy wonder Arbib was portrayed as some sort of bridge building genius
who
has
reached out to the Left and even consults before making
decisions.
Sounds
great. Then we got to the last three paragraphs of Steketee’s
feature
which
read as follows:

Arbib has demonstrated in his present position one quality that he
shares
with
his predecessors – an utterly unsentimental pragmatism. Rudd knows
about
that.
So does Campbelltown mayor Brenton Banfield, whom the Right
first
approached to
run as the Labor candidate for Werriwa.

Banfield agreed, but Arbib pulled the plug on him at the first
hint
of
controversy – the “revelation” that as a solicitor Banfield had
represented
a
man who had pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Never
mind that
all
people before the courts deserve representation – though
Banfield was
the
outstanding candidate, Arbib decided the issue was too big a
risk. It was
his
good fortune that Banfield went quietly.

But, according to one Labor member, “it was Mark’s call and I believe he
got
it
wrong.” On the other hand, the Left has decided not to make a public
issue
of
it. That is different from the past, as well.

As a barrister, I think that is absolutely outrageous. Every
citizen
is
entitled to legal representation. Should Julian Burnside QC be
banned
by
refugee groups because he has represented Alan Bond and Pixie
Skase
at
different points of his career? Of course not. Will I be banned
from
the
kindergarten committee because of representing some bogan in
Ballarat
for
urinating in public?

As I’ve had to counsel my shareholder activist husband on a
number
of
occasions, even share scavenger David Tweed is entitled to
legal
representation
as he sues pensioners for $500. Barristers are actually
not
permitted to reject
a paying brief if they are available.

If the Labor Party is so PR driven that they are prepared to ignore the
basic
right
to legal representation, then the party that allowed my family
into
this
country from Italy on a ten pound ticket back in 1972 can forget
about
getting
my vote again.

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Peter Fray
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