What to do with too many lawyers

Don Wormald writes: Re. “Saville’s shout: few law jobs … work from home … setting a scene …” (yesterday). Margot Saville’s article about the doubling of the number of law graduates over the past decade is a case of deja vu for those of us around the courts in the mid-’70s. Concerns were then expressed about lawyer numbers, so an inquiry was held, presided over by Supreme Court Judge Nigel Bowen.

The conclusion was, if I recall correctly, that within a decade lawyers would be graduating at the rate of one an hour in NSW should universities continue to expand their law faculties — way beyond demand.  His Honour recommended curtailing the expansion of legal education.

Of course, like all good, studied inquiries it was left to rot on a shelf and nothing was done. In fact, the recession of the early ’80s did more to fix the situation, in that after a year or so of recession it was said half the taxi drivers in Sydney were lawyers and that you shouldn’t engage them in chatter lest they charge a consultancy fee!

Of course, there’s always the Shakesperian solution, as evidenced by the opening quote from the Bard. Kinda favour that one myself!

Remember East Timor?

KJ Lewis writes: Re. “Keane: Tony Abbott’s highly revealing lie about why we spy” (yesterday). It’s probably a little inconvenient, but remember East Timor? That wasn’t offered in evidence?

I know it’s a temptation drop this in Labor’s lap, when you’re predisposed to overegging and salting stories with your opinions, but do you reckon this could go back to Howard’s era — when Abbott was a senior player, too, when they conspired to screw an emerging, poor country like Timor?

“A bit rich”? Is Shorten that much “worse than Abbott”, as seems the message?

John Richardson writes: Bernard Keane is right to highlight the fact that Australia’s spying activities against its so-called “friends and neighbours” is a perfectly legal activity that every government, including Indonesia, pursues.

That Tony Abbott, George Brandis and the rest of the government’s already tired-looking cheer squad would pretend otherwise demonstrates just how little regard they have for the intelligence of the average Australian.

Of course, if Keane really wanted to stir the possum with both sides of the political divide, he would remind Crikey readers that it was not just Australia who benefited from the ASIS spying activity mounted against east Timor, but also the energy giant Woodside, for whom the then-Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, went on to work.

While the rule of law might sit comfortably with legal espionage conducted in the national interest, I wonder where Keane thinks it goes when confronted with activities that many might see as serving less noble interests?

No corporate subsidies

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Subsidies for coal” (yesterday). Peter Burnett asks if I support “the government’s massive subsidy of the mining industry”. First, the government doesn’t massively subsidise the mining industry — quite the reverse, with corporate tax and mining royalties hugely in the government’s favour.  Nonetheless, I’m against all corporate subsidies. They are unfair, distort markets and are prone to capture by “mates” with the right connections.

Peter Fray

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