High Court gets new female judgeSydney Morning HeraldSeptember 20, 2005
A Victorian woman has become just the second female judge appointed to the High Court.
The appointment of Justice Susan Crennan, 60, announced by Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today, will be effective from November 1.
Justice Crennan, who was born in Victoria, has been a justice of the Federal Court of Australia since 2003.
She began her legal career as a barrister in New South Wales in 1979, where she read with the then Commonwealth Solicitor General, David Bennett, QC. She later returned to practice in Victoria.
Justice Crennan was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1989 and became the first female chair of the Victorian Bar Council, a position she held from 1993-94. She was also the first woman president of the Australian Bar Association, from 1994-95.
For the first time since 1982, the High Court will have two Victorian justices. Justice Crennan replaces Michael McHugh, who is retiring after 17 years as a High Court justice.
In a speech at the University of Newcastle in August, Justice McHugh praised the only female judge in the High Court's history, Mary Gaudron, and said he wanted a woman to succeed him.
Victoria's chief justice, Marilyn Warren, had been tipped by some as a potential replacement for Justice McHugh. Justice Susan Kiefel had been considered the frontrunner for the appointment. She is believed to have missed out by only a handful of votes in cabinet when the Howard Government appointed Dyson Heydon upon Ms Gaudron's retirement in 2003.
"The Government sought to appoint someone who has demonstrated, through the quality of her jurisprudence and her leadership, that she has the confidence of the legal profession and the broader Australian community," Mr Ruddock said today.
"The essential criterion for judicial appointment is merit, but merit means legal excellence, a capacity for industry and a temperament suited to the performance of the judicial function," he said.
Mr Ruddock also announced today that seven prominent Australians, including Owen Dixon, would have Commonwealth law courts named after them.
theage.com.au, with Michael Pelly
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