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With all due respect?

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 85(1/2) LIJ, p.84

Converting captive Oprah buffs

Former ABC Media Watch presenter and social commentator David Marr knows how to crash a good party, God love him.

But even Mr Marr would have impressed himself with the events of 10 December 2010 or, as Melburnians will forever remember it, Oprah Winfrey Came To Melbourne Day.

There was high demand for seats at Mr Marr’s keynote delivery of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s 2010 human rights oration at Zinc at Federation Square that day. So high, in fact, organisers arranged for a free public outdoor screening on Federation Square’s big screen.

That’s correct. While thousands of people were eagerly gathering for a glimpse of Oprah – and possibly hoping the big screen would broadcast special moments of the queen of the small screen prior to said appearance – they got Mr Marr.

Mr Marr was highly aware of the bonus audience to hear his hour-long “Belling the Cat: Does Australia really give a damn about human rights?” and decided to open his own show with some tailor-made material.

“I would like to start by saying a word to the people who are outside in Federation Square waiting to see Oprah who might be surprised to find on the big screen out there me talking about human rights,” he said.

“I won’t be there for very long. But my message to you is this: Oprah came to Australia the other day and she has cuddled koalas, and she has seen Uluru, but I think nothing about us would surprise her as much as the fact that Australians still don’t have the rights Americans have had for the last 200 years.”

To read the full oration, see

Robert Justin Hulls is a politician never afraid to speak his mind.

It is undeniable that his decade-long tenure as Victoria’s Attorney-General will leave a lasting legacy of innovation and reform of the legal profession. However, few lawyers will miss his verbal attacks on the profession.

Some of the statements that riled the legal profession included:

“[Some lawyers] use litigation simply as a means of racking up costs or as a commercial tactic.”

“While most lawyers do the right thing, there are still some who love the sound of their own voices and think they are treading the boards rather than helping the court resolve disputes.”

“Some [on the judiciary] need to come in from the cold and, in some quarters, descend from its lofty view of itself as a detached and immutable system.”

Mr Hulls, arguably Victoria’s answer to Paul Keating in his pomp, also reserved some of his better work for those seated on the opposite side of Parliament.

He once described then Premier Jeff Kennett as a bloke “who wears conflict of interest on his lapel like a badge of honour”.

And he said that when faced with “a choice between another bottle of red and extra ambulances or teachers”, Liberal Party ministers would “choose the Grange Hermitage over the taxpayers every time”.

Thanks to all WADR readers who entered our competition for the latest legal musings by Bullstrode Whitelocke KC.

Bruce Crosthwaite (Herbert Geer), Amanda Carruthers (Lewis Holdway Lawyers), Tony Bowlen (Bowlen Dunstan & Associates), Tim Freeman (Tony Hargreaves & Partners Lawyers) and Geoff Provis (Russell Kennedy) each won a copy of Whitelocke: On Lawmanship (3rd ed).

Enjoy laughing at the failings, foibles and faux pas of others? Of course you do.

Then why not contribute to WADR?

By email to, by fax on 9607 9451 or by mail C/- LIJ, 470 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000.


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