You are invited to the Annual Frank Walker Lecture 2020, featuring an address by The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG on the topic "Redressing Miscarriages of Justice: Safety Nets, Second Appeals and an Unsafe Convictions Commission". Join the NSW Society of Labor Lawyers as we celebrate the life and times of the late Attorney-General the Hon Frank Walker QC, MP.
In this lecture the speaker will address improving the response to miscarriages of justice. Recent decisions of the High Court of Australia, including in Pell v The Queen  HCA 12; (2020) 94 ALJR 394, illustrate the continuing operation of judicial appeal under the template of the Criminal Appeal Act provides relief for some alleged miscarriages. However, this relief serves only a small fraction of alleged cases. Other instances demonstrate a need for a later facility of judicial appeal not dependent on permission of Executive Government. In the United Kingdom, New Zealand and now Canada, a different avenue of redress has been provided by creation of a Criminal Cases Review Commission. Noting the commitment of Frank Walker to protection of prisoners’ rights, the speaker urges the need for a further appeal right and consideration of a more effective commission to supplement judicial protection.
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG was a contemporary of Frank Walker and a friend. Like Frank Walker, his early experience in law was in workers’ compensation litigation and cases for the Council for Civil Liberties. He watched with appreciation Frank Walker’s initiatives in the NSW and Federal Parliament for law reform, including that concerning Aboriginals, homosexuals and women’s rights. In Australia, the powerful case for a second appeal to the judiciary upon discovery of fresh evidence has resulted in legislative reforms in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Reforming legislation in Western Australia is under consideration. Other Australian jurisdictions are dragging the chain. So far, no Australian Attorney-General has championed establishment of a properly funded Suspect Cases Commission. If Frank Walker were still alive, it is suggested, he would be an advocate of effective remedies, including for those who cannot afford to secure top legal representation in appellate courts.
Join friends and family of Frank, fellow practitioners, academics and students to celebrate the life of a great Labor reformer. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, this year's lecture will take place online via Zoom. Registration is essential and the webinar link will be sent to registrants prior to the lecture.
About Frank Walker
Frank Walker was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the Georges River electorate from 1970 to 1988. He served as the 41st Attorney General of NSW from 1976 to 1983 and founded the NSW Society of Labor Lawyers. Following his state parliamentary career Frank ran successfully for the Federal electorate of Robertson in 1990 and represented the electorate until the 1996 election. During his political life, Frank was a reformer, overseeing significant legislative change in the areas of land rights, criminal law, and discrimination law. He was the original founder of the NSW Society of Labor Lawyers.