Steam was pouring from Justice Geoffrey Flick in the Sydney branch of the Federal Court yesterday (Thurs. Sept. 24).
Before him was an application to vacate by consent the hearing date of a partly heard matter.
The hearing date fixed for October 30 was heroically shifted to October 28, but not before Le Flick let fly with a tirade about the lack of federal judges in Sydney.
Four have departed in recent memory: Wilcox (2006), Sackville (2008), Branson (2008) and Tamberlin (2009).
Where are the replacements? Doc Flick cried.
Advertisements appeared in the daily blatts in April calling for interested people to tender for the judging jobs. Flick went on:
“Members of the profession have applied. The fate of all applications remains undetermined.
The continued and unexplained non-appointment of judges to replace those who have retired or resigned places serious constraints upon the ability of the court to continue to provide the just resolution of disputes in as timely a manner as it has in the past.
Access to justice is not promoted by the provision of renovated court rooms without also the appointment of an adequate number of judges to sit in them.”
Kev Lindgren was on about much the same thing at the conclusion of the hearing in Whittaker v Child Support Registrar.
But it’s not quite correct to say that the “fate of all applications remains undetermined”.
In fact, about a fortnight ago Attorney General Rob (Potato) McClelland told three bright buttons to start winding up their practices and get Federal Court robes fitted.
Two in Sydney and one in Melbourne.
The advisory panel consisted of Black CJ, Gerry Brennan, Jane Matthews and Ian Govey (from The Department).
Black is the strongest voice there and it’s not unfair to say that no one gets the nod without his say so.
Doc Flick was appointed to the court in the dying moments of the Howard/Ruddock regime.
The current government appointed three new Sydney federal judges in August-September last year: Perram, Jagot and Foster.
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Already the bunting is coming out for a round of farewells to commemorate the 19-year reign of Michael Black as Federal Court CJ.
His administrative assistant is inviting people to feasts and masked balls across the nation.
Potato has sent out soundings to important institutions for suggestions as to the worthiest replacement.
The bookies are taking bets and wild speculations will soon emanate from the blatts.
It’s interesting to see that the Chief Justice lists his recreations as, “architecture, matters maritime and light railways”.