Libby Slater
1957- 1994

The joint editorship of this Section by Elisabeth Ann (Libby) Slater was brought to an end by her untimely death from pneumonia on 2 September 1994. The loss to [Australian Tax Review] is but a pale reflection of the loss to her family, her profession and the superannuation industry in Australia.

In less than two decades, Libby fashioned a legal career outshone by few. Her accomplishments were marked not only by university honours at graduation, but also by recognition by her colleagues both as a tax practitioner and as a leading national and international expert in her chosen field, the burgeoning area of superannuation law, to which she brought a clarity of legal analysis previously rare. To her clients’ affairs she applied the same capacity for analysis of issues and synthesis of solutions.

A dedicated and unselfish commitment to education of the profession saw her sit for nine years on the Education and Convention Committee of the Taxation Institute of Australia, of which she was a State Councillor; lecture in post-graduate law at the University of Sydney; give many papers to seminars for lawyers, accountants, and industry; and among other things contribute to the editorial board for this journal. Her capacity for leadership was seen in her admission to, and the respect accorded her within, the national legal partnership Mallesons Stephen Jaques, but perhaps more clearly in her advancement of the careers of the lawyers and others who worked with her in her team within the firm.

A clarity of thought and mastery of language found expression not only in her correspondence and legal draftsmanship, and her publications (for this and other legal publishers), but also in what was said of her by Senator Watson in a valedictory speech to the Australian Senate. 
   
“She was a highly articulate and unassuming woman [with] a gift for explaining complex issues in a simple way… Without doubt, she was the most prized witness the [Select Committee on Superannuation] had the privilege of hearing. She provided the Committee with invaluable assistance on the policy framework for superannuation legislation. Members of the Committee were struck by her frankness, candour, and knowledge as a witness… She has had a profound influence on the present and future state of superannuation in Australia and for this legacy we must all be grateful.”

To these qualities Libby added a serene confidence, a zest for life, a warm and loving family life, a quirky sense of humour and a universal popularity with colleagues, not only her partners and staff but also her professional competitors. She leaves her legacy a memory of love, respect and affection for a partner, friend and sister.



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