According to this article by Kim Rubenstein published online by Canberra Times on 12 December 2014 a rethink is needed as new High Court Justice appointment seems to maintain gender imbalance.

Rubenstein writes that the appointment of Geoffrey Nettle QC, as the replacement for Justice Susan Crennan on the High Court of Australia when she retires next February calls, yet again, for a radical rethinking of the way High Court judges are appointed. It provides further impetus to those who believe in equality of opportunity in Australia to call for a mandated commitment to at least 40 per cent composition of either gender at any time on the High Court of Australia.

Attorney-General George Brandis, in announcing the new appointment, made reference to the following attributes of the new appointment – his ''brilliant career in the law" his combined degrees from the ANU and Melbourne University, and his Bachelor of Civil Law from Madgalen College, Oxford. There are a growing group of women judges on the Courts in Victoria, both sitting on the Supreme and Federal Courts who could have been announced in the same fashion – as having brilliant careers, of being Supreme Court prize winners and Rhodes Scholars and Law Review editors. Why was a man preferenced over the woman who could have been extolled in the same, or arguably even more meritorious fashion?

At the moment it is (save for the one single woman) an entirely male conservative cabinet deciding who the "best" person is for the job. Indeed, our century-old experience of judicial selection has shown that when male politicians gaze at the available gene pool of potential High Court appointees, they see only reflections of themselves and what they understand as depictions of merit.

And while there are plenty of women now who would tick all the boxes required, we need to also acknowledge that other matters that are essential to the role of High Court justice include: reflection of the community, responsiveness to the community's needs, life experiences reflecting those of the community. This is because law is not just a scientific tool used to determine answers - it is full of values, and values are developed through life experience.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Login Form

Current and former members of WLWA can login here to renew, rejoin and access members-only content on our website