Why QCs must be reinstated

by on 26 April, 2012

206763_10150137802876616_585816615_6556554_3219432_n (1) (1) Joshua Gibbins argues for the reinstatement of the title of Queen's Council:

Australia is a constitutional monarchy, and with monarchy comes the symbols, titles and patronages that represent the soverign.

Whether it’s the monarch’s coat of arms, the lion and unicorn aloft government buildings, the monarch’s portrait hanging for all to see in government and public buildings, or knighthoods bestowed by the monarch. These things are all part of the monarchy that Australia is a part of and has been a part of since it was first colonised by Britain.

Sadly, over the last 20 years, republicans that have risen to power and have used the extent of their power either at all levels of government to remove and hide these symbols.

In effect, these people are removing parts of Australia’s traditions,  and some of Australia’s oldest national identity and heritage.

This is why I believe that, although it may have little significance to the monarchy directly, that the title of ‘Queen's Counsel’ should be reinstates.

The major Commonwealth realms, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand, still retain the title of ‘Queen’s Counsel’, with New Zealand reinstating the title in 2010.

Australia still has these senior practitioners, but under a new title called ‘Senior Counsel’, which is really the exact same thing – and they even dress the same as the original Queen's Counsel.

The title of ‘Senior Counsel’, however, is only used in republics that were originally part of the British Empire and later Commonwealth realms but now a republic, like Africa, Hong Kong, Kenya, Singapore, etc.

Australia still being a constitutional monarchy should continue to use the titles that are consistent with our constitution and not those that represent a republic. Australia restoring the title of Queen Counsel will also put Australia back in line with the other Commonwealth realms that still use the title.

Looking at the most recent case where the title has just been reinstated in New Zealand, you can see that the arguments that brought in its restitution are no different to what applies to Australia. This was met with wide community support but the only objections to the reinstatement were that the title is too ‘colonial’, which from the start was a weak argument that was quickly defeated.

There was no other reason other than a few republican members of Parliament calling it colonial cringe and then going on to ask if they could also reinstate fingerless gloves. There was no solid argument presented as to why title should not be reinstated.

There is one good argument that the ‘silks’ selection process can be and at time is corrupt because attaining the rank of Queen's Counsel, known as 'taking silk’, is quite competitive.

This is true at times but like in New Zealand, Australia could think of a more secure way for barristers to be selected and appointed for the title – and has no bearing on whether the title is QC or SC.

That said, the reinstatement of the title ‘Queen’s Counsel’ in Australia will not only help with what people already perceive to be of high standard,  but also put Australia back in line with the other of Her Majesty’s realms and restore respect to one of Australia’s longest traditions.

Joshua Gibbins is a 22 year old constitutional monarchist, studying a Diploma in Library and Cultural Studies

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