In Australia the Labor smear machine is working at full speed – targeting the Greens as well as the Coalition. The Age reports:
STATE Labor has stepped up its campaign against the surging Greens, targeting the party’s candidate for Melbourne, prominent barrister Brian Walters, and seeking to smear him as anti-Semitic and an unscrupulous lawyer.
Senior Labor figures including former Victorian secretary Stephen Newnham have contacted influential members of the Jewish community seeking to generate a political backlash against the Greens, and Mr Walters in particular.
The Age has obtained a dossier of documents used as part of the dirt campaign that focus on Mr Walters’s representation of alleged Nazi war criminal Konrads Kalejs in the early 2000s.
In a Sunday Herald Sun front page story yesterday the member for Melbourne and Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike, described Mr Walters as a ”hypocrite” for representing a brown-coal mining company while as a Green criticising coal-fired power.
ALP secretary Nick Reece also criticised Mr Walters for seeking ”profit” from a coalmining company.
Having a Nazi as a criminal client, does not make you a Nazi. It makes you a lawyer. Lawyers in criminal practice are obliged to represent clients who seek their services, as explained:
Robert Richter, both Jewish and a high-profile QC, defended Walters as an ”ethical barrister”. ”The attack on him is completely shameful or rather shameless, and discloses not just an ignorance of the working of our legal system but a betrayal of any sense of proper legal ethics.”
Prominent human rights activist Julian Burnside, QC, slammed Labor’s tactics as a ”disgrace”. ”I can only say that I am astonished at the ignorance (or hypocrisy) of the Herald Sun, Bronwyn Pike and Nick Reece.
”The cab-rank rule is fundamental to the independent bar. It exists to protect the community by ensuring that even unpopular clients can get representation in court.
Points well made.
Some criticism over representing a coal mining company could be legitimate, as that is nor criminal representation but again you do not have to approve of a client to do work for them – I do work for plenty of clients I disagree with!
What I found really interesting was this:
Last month The Age revealed that taxpayers are footing the bill for a secretive operation run out of Mr Brumby’s office aimed at discrediting Coalition MPs and Greens candidates in the lead-up to this month’s state election. An informal committee, referred to as ”the dirt unit” among senior Labor figures, has met weekly in the Premier’s private office over the past year, overseeing investigations of the political, business and sometimes personal histories of shadow ministers and, more recently, Greens MPs and candidates.
Maybe Mike Williams could do contract work for them, on the basis of his wonderful H Fee investigation.