Episode 66 – Being a part of change rather than sitting on the sidelines with The Honourable Matt Foley
In this week’s episode of the ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ podcast I was joined by the Honourable Matt Foley. These days Matt is a talented and humble Barrister based in Brisbane but his career has been nothing short of fascinating. I have concluded after speaking with Matt that he has achieved in his 40 or so years of his ‘career’ to date what would usually be achieved by combining careers of at least 5 people! So sit back and get ready to enjoy the insights of a career in law that began in social work, moved to the Bar, then to Politics and now of course back to the Bar (with the occasional High Court appearance thrown in for good measure!)
I have known of Matt here in Brisbane as he was the Attorney General for Queensland for much of my early years in law. What I did not know until this interview is the incredible impact that Matt and his contemporaries have had in changing the face of Queensland politics and leading much needed social reform in the 1970’s and 1980’s (and for many years thereafter!)
Matt began his career as a social worker and shared with me many of his memories of the difficult work he encountered in that role working with what we would now know as the Department of Child Safety here in Queensland. He also spent many of his early years working with the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Legal Service where he met some well known Queensland lawyers in the Honourable Wayne Goss and Terry O’Gorman. It seems Matt’s experiences in those early years inspired his decision to study law and pursue a successful career as a Barrister.
Anyone with an interest in politics would be aware that the 1970’s and 1980’s would see the beginning of big social and political change here in Queensland. It was into this environment that Matt found himself being drawn into politics, first being elected in 1989 and remaining until 2004. Over the next 15 years Matt would go on to serve in many ministerial roles, including as the State Attorney General.
Matt’s many years in politics also lead to so many great tales of change, advocacy and leadership!
Although I feel as though I was only able to offer you such a small snippet of Matt’s career- his intellect, drive and passion for people can be so easily seen. Matt has so many stories to share that I may have to get him back for round two to finish them off!
Matt and I also spoke about:
- How Matt almost became a fighter pilot- he was accepted into the RAAF officer academy but chose to study social work instead.
- Why Matt chose to start his career as a Social Worker and how his training continues to impact his life in the law today.
- His early experiences working with aboriginal communities in and around Brisbane and how his observation of the many injustices in the system inspired his continued involvement and passion for changing racism and discrimination in Australia.
- His fondest memories of his time in Parliament.
- Why as Attorney General, Matt focused on creating diversity within the Judiciary, During his time as AG, the Qld Government appointed many more women than ever before to the judicial system. Out of the 40 appointments, 25 were Women.
- The many interesting pieces of legislation Matt had a hand in during his time in Government.
- The importance of family.
- High Court wins during Matt’s Career.
- And of course his tips on happiness.
Sit back and enjoy some of Matt’s incredible career that is one in a million!