The ALRC today farewelled Emeritus Professor David Weisbrot, the longest serving president in the ALRC’s 35-year history.
Professor Weisbrot has stepped down after more than ten years in office during which time he presided over 14 inquiries. Under Professor Weisbrot’s presidency the ALRC has achieved a significant level of implementation for its reports, with over 80% of its proposals having been implemented or partially implemented to date―an achievement that is the envy of law reform agencies around the world.
Professor Weisbrot’s commitment to law reform is renowned across the legal, policy and government sectors and the high standing and regard in which the ALRC is held across the community is largely due to his leadership, commitment, judgement and dedication to the integrity of the law reform process. In 2003, Professor Weisbrot was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government for ‘services to law reform’, and in 2006 was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for ‘service to the law in the areas of law reform, education and access to legal services, and through contributions to research, analysis and policy development on a range of matters of public interest’.
Professor Weisbrot’s first inquiry was into the federal civil justice system, which culminated in the landmark report Managing Justice: A review of the federal civil justice system (ALRC 89, 2000). Other significant inquiries followed including the groundbreaking report, Essentially Yours: The Protection of Human Genetic Information in Australia (ALRC 96, 2003); Fighting Words: A review of sedition laws in Australia (ALRC 104, 2006); and the ALRC’s largest and most complicated inquiry into privacy laws, For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC 108, 2008). Other inquiries during the Weisbrot presidency covered areas of marine insurance; a review of the Judiciary Act; civil and administrative penalties; protection of classified and security sensitive information; gene patenting; uniform evidence law; sentencing; client legal privilege and current inquiries on commonwealth secrecy laws, royal commissions and family violence.
Professor Weisbrot is highly regarded in the national and international law reform and policy making arenas and during his presidency, the ALRC has actively taken a leadership role in assisting law reform in developing countries. In 2009 he was invited by the Government of Botswana to assist in the establishment of a law reform commission there and previously he has assisted law reform bodies in PNG, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. He’s currently the President of the Commonwealth Association of Law Reform Agencies (CALRAs) – a body that represents over 60 law reform agencies from around the world.
Professor Weisbrot leaves the ALRC to take up the position of Professor in Macquarie University’s Centre of Research Excellence in Law and Legal Governance as well as a position as Professorial Fellow at the United States Studies Centre. Professor Weisbrot has been a mentor to ALRC staff and to the law reform sector nationally and internationally. The ALRC wishes him the very best in his new endeavours and will miss him greatly.
The ALRC also today farewells Commissioner Professor Les McCrimmon whose term has also ended. Professor McCrimmon has worked at the ALRC for the past four years, leading the ALRC’s landmark Privacy Inquiry as well as the Inquiry into Evidence and most recently into the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) and related issues. As Commissioner in charge of the Privacy Inquiry, Professor McCrimmon oversaw one of the largest inquiries undertaken in the ALRC’s history. This report provides a clear framework for establishing world’s best practice in privacy protection and is a credit to both Professor McCrimmon and Professor Weisbrot’s leadership. Professor McCrimmon leaves the ALRC to take up the position of Chair of Law, Faculty of Law, Business and Arts at Charles Darwin University.