Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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Honouring 50 Years at the Bar Print E-mail

bar50_intro.jpgAt the 2019 Bar Dinner, the Association was proud to offer tributes to four of its members who have held their practicing certificates for over 50 year. Following are the toasts made by the four junior barristers.

View the slide presentation from the Bar Dinner

Marshall Cooke RFD QC

Presented by Justin Byrne

Nelson “Marshall” Cooke, known to most simply as “Marshall”, was admitted as a barrister in 1962 – the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and also the year of the tragic death of film icon Marilyn Monroe. Closer to home in 1962 the Honourable Sir Own Dixon sat as Chief Justice, Robert Menzies was Prime Minister and Rod Laver won the French, Australian and US Open Titles and Margaret Court, not to be outdone repeated those same feats, French, Australian and US Opens.

Remarkably that was some 57 years ago now, the year when Marshall Cooke first graced the Queensland Bar with his eloquent nature.

Marshall has, over time, developed something of a multi-practice in the areas of Constitutional and Administrative, Property, Planning and Environment, Commercial, and Criminal Law and Marshall was appointed Silk in 1980.

He was also an Officer in the Royal Australian Navy and retired having attained the Rank of Commander and obtained the honour of receiving the Reserve Forces Decoration for his service. He has appeared in many military tribunals (including courts-martial) and inquiries, and whilst serving was in fact appointed as both a Defence Force Magistrate and also as Judge-Advocate in the Australian Navy.

In the mid to late 1960’s Marshall was elected and served as Councillor with the Pine Rivers Shire Council and was then subsequently elected Federal Member of Australian Parliament (Petrie) in 1972, and thereafter, sat as a Member of Joint Committee on Self-Government for the Australian Capital Territory.

Amongst Marshall’s many other achievements are being appointed Commissioner to inquire into financial and electoral corruption in Queensland Trade Unions in the late 1980’s and then Chief Commissioner appointed to inquire into the Privatisation and Sale of Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation in 2002.

Marshall has also held many other professional positions over the years including:

  • Was Chairman of Queensland Barristers’ Admission Board
  • He served 2 terms on the Bar Association Committee
  • Was Member of the University of Queensland Law Faculty Board
  • Acted as Counsel for PNG Government at Sandline (Mercenaries) Inquiry
  • Had several Constitutional References in the PNG Supreme Court including the reinstatement of a Government Minister and also the Manus Island Detention Centre matter.

Amongst Marshall’s many hobbies and interests, he has in a former life represented Queensland in a winning Debating team when he was at the University of Queensland, and also found time to represent Queensland as a water polo player in the National Championship.

He was the Treasurer and later Chaired the Queensland Swimming Association not long after coming to the Bar, and notably, for his long association with Queensland Water Polo, he was duly awarded a Life membership of the Queensland Water Polo Association.

Marshall has had a long and distinguished career at the Bar. He has seen many aspiring young barristers come and go in that time, and has seen many changes in how we perform our roles from an administrative perspective. Life may well appear to have become somewhat complicated at times in that respect, but the reality is that whether it be 1962 or present day, 2019, the barrister’s role still requires the same certain attributes including:

  • Capacity to think on one’s feet and respond to changing situations;
  • Ability to think strategically;
  • Always remain calm under pressure (or at least not show your panic);
  • Speak well and hopefully enjoy public speaking.

These are things that Marshall Cooke has now done well for more than half a century, truly remarkable!

Can you all please join me in recognising Marshall Cooke for his outstanding contribution to the Queensland Bar and the fact that he survived more than 50 years in that regard!

John Gallagher QC

Presented by Sophie Gibson

There is a simply stated theme in John’s time at the Bar, the message is that real friendship is precious and that the bedrock of friendship is loyalty. It is a short credo, but it takes a deal of discipline to act by it.

No biography of John, no matter how brief, could be complete, without mentioning that his nickname is well known as “the Crocodile” or to those affectionate to him, “the Croc”. It is said that he will bite and not bark.

John, also known as “Gall”, was admitted to the Bar in March 1964. Gall did not start in an elite building. He first practised from rooms that were dubbed “Outs of Court”, before he was then able to purchase a room that became available in the actual Inns of Court, but the reality was that the junior Bar was only a group of about 50 barristers at that time, most of whom had served in the second world war, in different theaters.

Junior members would regularly gather together in the common room of the Inns of Court for luncheon provided by Bruno and his wife. Judges would regularly join these lunches on a Friday. Every barrister was very welcome to attend and to sit and discuss the gossip and news of the day. It was a very collegiate place.

The old Supreme Court building burnt down in 1968. When the new courthouse was built it had the then very modern feature of air conditioning. Fees were calculated as a fee on brief with subsequent “refreshers”. Time charging did not exist.

John found that appearing with great Silks was a tremendous learning experience. He appeared with some greats, including Gerard Brennan QC, Cedric Hampson QC and Dan Casey. He remembers Cedric Hampson QC, not just as being the finest practitioner of his era, but as also being a great leader and a great man.

John suffered a deep sadness in the very sudden and unexpected death of his first wife, Wendy, at a time when they had four young children. He remembers and cherishes the friendship of many colleagues who took care of him at that time. One of these was Cedric, another was Ian Callinan, both of whom showed him true friendship by their conduct.

Cedric gave John an instruction about a principle of legal practice. It was that one should never start a fight, but that if someone started a fight with you, you had to finish it. While John adhered rigidly to that principle it is fair to say that he actually did not need any instruction from Cedric about it. He has never thought the Bar is a place for the faint hearted and he believes in fearless advocacy. He also believes that no one should expect a prize for working hard or being intelligent. These are “givens”, as he says.

After many years at the Bar it is friendship and character that remain as the only important values to him. He has seen many great barristers and Judges come and go but good friendships have endured. As John became more senior and took Silk a new chapter of his life at the Bar opened up. I am told that one characteristic of the later years of his career was his encouragement of younger barristers. He saw that encouragement as a natural and enjoyable responsibility of a senior barrister, and as the way the Bar is meant to work.

John eschews the practice of barristers telling war stories that only reflect well upon themselves. It is boring for one thing, and also leaves out the other half of reality, which can be amusing and instructive, namely the stories where things do not go well for us. One of the features of being a friend of John’s is enjoying his great sense of humour, self-deprecating remarks, and his philosophical insights, often delivered with the witty turn of phrase of a keen observer of human nature.

And despite his many happy years at the Bar, John has never been so happy as he is now in retirement, enjoying the love and company of his delightful wife Susan.

Please join with me on congratulating John Gallagher on more than 50 years as a practicing barrister.

Lister Harrison QC

Presented by Rachel Taylor

Lister was born on the 1st December 1944. The youngest of four children, his father had been at the Bar and then went on to become a lecturer in law at the University of Queensland. His mother had lectured there too, in the English Department.

Lister’s mother died in 1945, and his father then died in 1966, which in fact led to him marrying Gailene later that same year, rather earlier he says than would otherwise have happened, since he states that in those days it would have been scandalous for them to live together whilst unmarried.

Lister and Gailene went on to have three children and six grandchildren, all of whom still live in relatively close proximity to their parents. Lister himself attended Church of England Grammar School (now called the Anglican Church Grammar School) Brisbane. Between 1967 and 1968, Lister was Mr Justice Gibb’s associate. He followed his Honour Justice Gibbs from the Federal Court of Bankruptcy sitting in Sydney and Melbourne, to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory sitting, of course, in Canberra.

Whilst living in Sydney, Lister was able to take advantage of his dual residence to “straddle the dingo fence”, and get admitted in both Queensland and New South Wales. However, when Lister’s associateship finished and upon his return to Brisbane, he then developed a practice principally in crash and bash and legal aid maintenance.

Also, by the time of his return to the Queensland Bar, Lister had noticed that the Barristers seemed to make real money from trials and barristers had a disinterest (at least at that time) in writing opinions. So, he duly adopted the strategy of producing a satisfactorily profitable opinion practice. In 1983, he took Silk.

After a few years at level 17, of the then MLC, Lister set up chambers by himself on level 12 of that same building. When the accountant occupying the space next to him was sent to jail for tax fraud, and that space became vacant, Lister was approached by the now Australian High Commissioner to the UK and former Senator and Attorney General, George Brandis, amongst others, to establish a new group on that floor. These are the chambers that have continued in one form or another to become today’s Gibbs Chambers at No 95 North Quay. David Russell QC, a long-time member of that group and devoted fan of Lister’s, apologises for not being with Lister to celebrate tonight.

Lister’s practice at the Bar has taken him on many travels, including to Johannesburg – for the South African rebel cricket tour, in breach of anti-apartheid sanctions. In the inevitable litigation that followed, when the then Foreign Minister, Bill Hayden, refused Lister’s clients’ visas to come to Australia, Lister and the other lawyers (who included Stephen Charles QC and Peter Heerey of Melbourne) had to travel to Johannesburg to take instructions.

Again, although Lister was briefed extensively for one particular developer involved in the home unit litigation that fed the Bar in the earlier part of the 1980s, much to his consternation he had to return the brief for that client in order to fulfil a promise to Gailene’s mother to take her and the family on a Pacific cruise. But by doing that he avoided the indignity of having to tug the forelock to the representatives of a foreign power when that client’s litigation ultimately ended up before the Privy Council.

However, his attitude to the Crown is now somewhat similar to his attitude to his appendix, that is if it’s not playing up, then best leave it alone. Lister was offered a Centenary Medal in 2001 for “services to the law”, but politely declined the offer.

Lister’s wife tells us that he comes from a long line of spendthrifts to the extent that, for example, in Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper, he has always sided with the grasshopper. Nevertheless, he advises that he has promised faithfully that once he has paid his current tax bill, he will definitely start saving for his future retirement.

And perhaps consistently with his hopefully new-found frugality, tonight he is wearing a dinner jacket that his father had made for him by Christison and Burnett, High Class Tailors, of the Commercial Union Building, Eagle Street, the typed label in the inside pocket of which bears the date March 1963.

Please join me in congratulating Lister Harrison on his outstanding service as a barrister of more than 50 years standing.

Ian Hanger AM QC

Presented by San-Joe Tan

Ian was called to the Bar in December 1968.

It was an interesting bunch: Lister Harrison QC, Angus Innes, Justice Richard Chesterman, Justice Bob Douglas, Bob Hall, Judge Gary Forneau, Kevin Martin and Judge Philip Nase.

Ian spent 1969 and 1970 in London attending operas, plays, ballets and concerts, working in Lavender Hill, serving in the Royal Green Jacket Regiment and making the acquaintance of a certain Mr McKenzie – whom the world thinks – he befriended. He would deny that, but it resulted in a certain famous case.

After returning overland to Australia – doing some devilling in Hong Kong on the way – his first case was a dividing fences matter. Totally bamboozled by a subject that they didn’t teach in law school, he consulted his master soon to be Justice Bill Pincus – then a successful junior. Bill’s sound advice was that there was actually an Act of parliament called the Dividing Fences Act and perhaps it would be a good idea to start there. Ian did just that.

In those days he cut his teeth with Justices Fryberg, Chesterman, Harrison, and Spender valiantly fighting about $500 claims. Together, and headed by George Fryberg; Richard and Ian began Moore Chambers in the then Ansett Centre.

Subsequently they moved to the level 17 of the MLC Building with Harrison, Pincus, Thomas, Glen Williams, Richard and David Cooper, and David Robin, Jeff Spender and Brian O’Donnell

In 1976, Ian had the privilege of going to the Privy Council as junior to Bruce McPherson and appearing against John Macrossan leading Bill Carter leading Jonathan Sumption. Sometime thereafter, his wife tried to persuade him whilst they were in London, to look up his old client Mr McKenzie whom he had made famous but he didn’t seem inclined to do so.

In the seventies, he accepted and enjoyed doing a great deal of private prosecution work in the District Court and, as a prosecutor, referred in glowing terms to Jack Kimmins DCJ.

Ian enjoyed being in a number of matters with the Solicitor General for Australia Sir Maurice Byers and in that role worked with Bill Gummow and Bob French, both of whom of course went on to became Justices of the High Court. When Mabo was just a letter before action, Sir Maurice, Bob French and Ian spent a full week in conference discussing land rights cases in order to advise the then Commonwealth Attorney General.

Ian was also involved with Bill Pincus in advising on liability in the Agent Orange litigation and in respect of the Commonwealth’s liability arising out of the Maralinga Atomic bomb tests.

In one matter, Warman v Dwyer, he was soundly thrashed by Danny Gore in the High Court and his wife says she is still traumatised about it. This may account for any odd conduct you might have seen throughout the last 20 years.

In 1988 he was Chair of the Committee of Inquiry into the Industrial Relations System in Queensland and his report was praised by both unions and employers. He was senior counsel assisting both the Parliamentary Judges Commission of Inquiry and the Inquiry into the Criminal Justice Commission. As if those inquiries were not enough, he was the commissioner for the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program.

He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland and has been made a permanent honorary professor at Bond University.

In 1990 he began mediating – 2,000 mediations later is where he is today. To be fair he is something of an expert, having led workshops in London, Edinburgh and Hong Kong and given talks in many other countries too. As recently as this month he was invited to give a paper at the Malaysian ADR conference. He is a mediator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and an arbitrator for the Chinese International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission and is conducting an arbitration in Beijing in November.

At the end of last year Griffith University conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate. He has not retired, and we are reliably informed that his wife won’t let him. She often reminds him of Bert Klug’s wise advice “Life is like riding a bicycle. If you stop pedalling, you will fall off”.

Please join with me in congratulating Ian Hanger on more than 50 years as a barrister in Queensland.


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