Victoria Attorney-General Robert Clark
Bill Restores Independence Of Law Foundation
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Government today introduced legislation to deliver its Election Commitment to restore the independence of the Victoria Law Foundation.
The Bill will reduce from four to two the number of members of the Foundation appointed by the Attorney-General, ensuring that independent appointees form a clear majority.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the Bill was the first of a number of Bills to be introduced by the Government to restore and enhance the independence of public institutions in Victoria.
“The Victoria Law Foundation was established more than 40 years ago as an independent statutory body to help Victorians understand their legal system and make the law more accessible.” Mr. Clark said.
“In 2009, Labor tried to seize control of the Foundation through legislation that would have given the Attorney-General the power to appoint the entire governing body of the Foundation.”
“After strong opposition by the coalition parties, the legislation as passed gave the Attorney-General Power to appoint half of the Foundation’s members.” Mr. Clark said.
“This still gave the Government of the day undue power to dominate the Board and to interfere in its activities for Political Purposes.”
“The Foundation should not be a Political satellite of the Government; it should operate independently to deliver legal education for the community, as it had been doing for more than 40 years before Labor’s attempt to seize control.” Mr. Clark said.
“This Bill will return genuine independence to the Foundation by ensuring that four of the six members will hold office independently of government, including nominees of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar and the Federation of Community Legal Centres.”
“The Bill will also restore the right of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to be the Chair of the Foundation.”
Mr. Clark said the Foundation played a valuable role in informing people about their rights and the legal system, and it was important that the long-standing independence of the Foundation be restored and upheld.