Yvette D’Ath is the Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. The Attorney-General has responsibility for the state’s legal and justice system. Meagan, our Justice Journeys student, is in her third year of Law/Business Management and recently spent a day with the Attorney-General, gaining a behind-the-scenes look at the Queensland Justice system. Meagan shares her experience below.
On Thursday, 21 April I had the wonderful opportunity to job-shadow Queensland’s Attorney-General, Hon Yvette D’Ath. My day kicked off bright and early as I arrived at the State Law Building in Brisbane at 8:30am. There I met the lovely Brooke, who showed me around the Attorney-General’s office.
Most of the offices were empty, as staff had already left for Parliament earlier that morning. I was surprised to learn that Parliamentary sittings can last until very late, as was the case for the previous night, when proceedings finished at around 11pm.
At 9:00am I collected my visitor’s pass and followed Brooke up the beautiful, red staircases and through the grand corridors to meet the Attorney-General, where she was preparing her speech. She took some time out of her busy schedule to give me an overview of what to expect on a typical Parliamentary sitting day, before hurrying into the Chamber for the start of proceedings.
At 9:30am, all the Ministers had gathered in the Legislative Assembly Chamber, with the Government and Opposition sitting facing each other in a U-shaped pattern. Presiding over the proceedings was the Speaker, Hon Peter Wellington who sits on a raised dais at the head of the room. I watched from upstairs in the public gallery as the Speaker entered the Chamber carrying the mace and opened the day’s proceedings with a prayer before taking the Chair.
Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk MP started off the Ministerial statements with an address to recognise the Queen’s birthday and the role she plays within the Commonwealth. Following that, each Minister provided an outline of the key strategies, policies and achievements relating to their respective portfolios.
Question time then ran from 10:30am, in which the Opposition had the chance to scrutinise the Government’s policies and activities. The Chamber was abuzz with debate, as the Ministers spoke over one another in counter to arguments. While it was hard to follow what was being said with lots of people speaking at the same time, it was very interesting and entertaining to watch. During Question Time, the Government promotes its own policies and challenges the Opposition by asking pre-arranged questions of Ministers called “Dorothy Dixers”.
At 11:30am, the Attorney-General introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, which will be referred to the Committee for review.
After that, I was able to sit in on a media strategy meeting regarding timeframes, which was quite fascinating.
Overall I had an amazing day and it was a unique learning experience to have been able to take a glimpse behind the scenes of our justice system.