Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court

For the swearing in and welcome of the Honourable Justice Anastassiou

Transcript of proceedings

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4.33 PM, FRIDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2019

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ANASTASSIOU J: Chief Justice, I have the honour to announce that I have received a Commission from his Excellency the Governor-General, appointing me a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I now present my Commission.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Justice Anastassiou. District Registrar, would you please read the commission aloud.

THE REGISTRAR: Commission of Appointment as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia:

I, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (retired), Governor-General of Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, under section 72 of the Constitution, section 6 subsection (1) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976, appoint Paul Elias Anastassiou, one of her Majesty’s Counsel, to be a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, assigned to the Melbourne Registry, commencing on 1 February 2019, until he attains the age of 70 years.

Signed and sealed with the Great Seal of Australia on 25 October 2018, Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you. Justice Anastassiou, I invite you to take the oath of office.

ANASTASSIOU J: I, Paul Elias Anastassiou, do swear that I will bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law; that I will well and truly serve her in the office of Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; and that I will do right to all manner of people according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will, so help me God.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you. Justice Anastassiou, I now invite you to subscribe to the oath that you have just taken. Congratulations. Justice Anastassiou, on behalf of all the Judges of the Court, may I welcome you to the Federal Court, and wish you well in your endeavours as a Judge of the Court. Before inviting the Solicitor-General to speak, may I welcome everyone to the Court, in particular the former Governor of the State, the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC and Mrs Chernov; Justice Nettle; former Justice the Honourable Susan Crennan, and Michael Crennan; Chief Justice of the Family Court; the former Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Michael Black. So many distinguished people here, I can’t go through them all; otherwise, I would take the Solicitor-General’s time. But may I say, it is wonderful to see so many Court of Appeal Judges and Supreme Court Judges here.

On behalf of the Court, may I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. Mr Solicitor.

DR S. DONAGHUE QC: May it please the Court. I would also like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet, the people of the Kulin Nation, and to pay their respects to their elders past and present.

It is a great honour to be here today to congratulate your Honour on appointment as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. The Attorney-General, the Honourable Christian Porter MP, regrets that he is unable to attend this ceremony today, but he has asked that I convey the Australian Government’s sincerest thanks to you for your Honour’s willingness to serve as a judicial officer of this Court, and that I pass on his best wishes for what he trusts will be a long and illustrious career as a member of this Court.

Your Honour’s appointment to this Court is another significant achievement in an already distinguished career. It is a reflection of the very high regard in which your Honour is held that so many members of the judiciary and legal profession are here today. I would like to particularly acknowledge, without repeating, the presence of the very distinguished guests who the Honourable Chief Justice has just identified, but I won’t repeat the list, and to also acknowledge the presence in Court today of very many members of both branches of the legal profession.

And may I also acknowledge the presence of your Honour’s family, including your wife, Sandra; your children, Alexander, Nicholas and Zoë; your mother, Eileen; your brothers, John and Markos; all of whom proudly share this occasion with you.

In the time available to me this afternoon, I will focus on just a few of the qualities and experiences that have marked your career to date. Your Honour came from a close family in which, I am told, success was encouraged. It is said you gained your thirst for knowledge from your mother, Eileen, and your oratory skills from your father, George. Your Honour attended Sunshine West High School, where you excelled as a student, and where you benefited from the tutelage of a number of teachers who fostered the intellect and inquiring mind that has marked your career.

Your intellectual prowess at school led to you being awarded a scholarship to Ormond College at the University of Melbourne, where you completed a Bachelor of Laws degree, graduating with honours in 1982. Even as a law student, I am told, you were marked for success, on account of your ability to cut through to the essential point of cases, your belief in the need for logic and problem-solving and your interest in the intellectual and jurisprudential aspects of the law. It has also been remarked that your compassion and generosity of spirit meant that you readily made lifelong friends at university from a range of discipline, which in turn broadened your horizons. After university, your Honour completed articles at the firm Phillips Fox & Masel, now DLA Piper. And in 1985 you were admitted to practice as a member of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

In 1987 your Honour was called to the Bar. And you set about building a thriving and demanding practice across a range of practice areas. Over time you came to specialise in commercial law, trade practices and consumer protection and in mediation. As a Junior you worked for many or worked with many of Australia’s leading commercial Silks, many of whom are present in Court today, who happily relied upon your detailed and methodical preparation.

Your Honour took silk in 2002. And your career at the Bar has been marked by a number of commendable characteristics that bode well for a long and fruitful career on the Bench. The first and most obvious of those characteristic is your Honour’s aptitude for the law. Those who work both with and against you report that you’re able to readily distil and apply key principles while quarantining the lesser issues and that you’re guided by the principle that a sound legal argument will always prevail over hyperbole. This earned you a reputation among both the Bench and the Bar as a thorough and persuasive Barrister whose advocacy was characterised by principled and, when necessarily, legally innovative arguments.

Those skills have served you well when undertaking many demanding briefs. There are too many to mention, but a notable example was representing the Country Fire Authority and the Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment in class actions relating to the Black Saturday bushfires, which ran for over 200 sittings. Your ability to cut through to the heart of things will mean, I respectfully observe, that you will fit in well with your new judicial colleagues on this Court, many of whom have been known to delight in that very activity when the activity presents itself.

Second, your Honour’s leadership and mentorship. In this area, those I have spoken to in advance of this speech suggest that your Honour’s talents are particularly outstanding. Your regular Juniors speak of you in the warmest and most glowing of terms. They speak of your strong commitment to identifying and promoting talent, giving your Juniors significant responsibility, working closely with them to ensure that they can discharge that responsibility and always assuming full responsibility for the quality of the ultimate produce. You are said to be generous with credit when good ideas or work is produced by others. And your Juniors and your Readers have benefited greatly from your mentorship and positive example.

One particular example amongst many – one Junior referred to you helping her to establish a commercial practice when she started at the Bar, including providing her first opportunity to cross-examine in the Supreme Court, which occurred in the context of a major commercial case, with partners from many leading commercial firms present, thereby leading directly to the establishment of a significant commercial practice.

Another example was your choice, when President of the Bar, to break from the then recent tradition in the choice of speakers at the Bar. Rather than choose an established Silk with a reputation as an after-dinner speaker, your Honour opted for Mark Costello. This was before Mark achieved fame at the Banking Royal Commission. And his theme at this speech was just how unknown he was and why on earth your Honour would’ve nominated him to speak at that dinner. The answer became obvious to everybody as the speech progressed. You had identified talent and taken steps within your power to promote it. It says, I think, something about your close relationships with your Junior that Mark felt comfortable taking the opportunity that you had given him to subject your Honour to a mild roasting in front of 500 colleagues.

Third, your Honour’s commitment to the legal profession more broadly. You’ve served the Victorian Bar in numerous capacities over the course of your career. Most significantly, you were President for the Bar Council in 2016, a Member of the Bar Council for six years, and Chairman of the Victorian Bar Audit and Finance Committee.

In taking on all these roles, you provided an example to all Barristers of the importance of giving back to the profession notwithstanding the demands of a busy practice.

Your Honour also possesses many personal qualities that have made you a valued part of so many lives. It has been noted that the only thing that might be more impressive than your professional and academic prowess is your compassion, honesty and dedication to the legal profession. Your Honour took your duties to your clients, the Court and your fellow Barristers very seriously. You’re trustworthy, generous, straightforward in your dealings. You’re also disarmingly self-deprecating. I recall on another occasion when you were President of the Bar, when you were introducing Kathleen Foley to give a speech in honour of Ken Hayne, following his retirement. Remarking on Kathleen’s intellectual talents, you commented how much you enjoyed being led by her on many occasions.

I’m informed that your Honour has a strong and unique empathy for other human beings and unquestionable authenticity and candour. Alongside your thriving career, your colleagues stress that your Honour deeply values your family, and is passionate about a broad range of interests. One junior remarked on being invited to a submission-writing day on your farm, and how it turned into a lovely day meeting and spending time with your family instead. Your colleagues and friends also observe that you’re a loving husband to your wife, Sandra, and a proud father of your three children, all of whom help to keep you grounded, as I suggest only one’s children can.

Your Honour is also immensely proud of your Greek heritage – indeed, at the Bar dinner speech I mentioned earlier, Mark Costello suggested that you own Greece. Many of your friends and colleagues have enjoyed your hospitality and beneficiaries of this experience are divided only on whether the food or the wine is the highlight. Your Honour has also been described as something of a maritime man, sharing a passion for boats with your brother John. Your Honour has been involved in a number of charities. In particular, I understand the cause particularly close to your heart is the care and health of homeless men, which has led to your considerable involvement with the group Way Community.

Your capacity for friendship and non-judgmental empathy comes to the fore in this context, and it’s said that none of the men at this halfway home would know that the man dishing up a meal, or having a chat around a coffee table with them, is one of Melbourne’s most esteemed Barristers, now Judges. In concluding, your Honour’s appointment to this Court is a testament to your many years of hard work and dedication to the legal profession. Over the course of your career your Honour has been an outstanding ambassador for the high values of the legal profession and the Australian justice system.

You’re a loyal and trusted adviser, arbiter, friend and colleague to many. No doubt your Honour will bring your well-known qualities of intellect, discipline, worldliness and balance to your service as a member of this Court. On behalf of the Australian Government, I extend you my sincerest congratulations and welcome you to the Federal Court of Australia. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Solicitor. Ms Harris, Senior Vice President of the Victorian Bar.

MS HARRIS QC: May it please the Court. It’s my great privilege to appear on behalf of the Australian Bar Association and the Victorian Bar to congratulate your Honour on your appointment to this Court. I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of he land on which we meet, the peoples of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. Your Honour’s appointment to this Court has been greeted with much joy and admiration among your friends and colleagues. It’s a testament to your dedication to your chosen profession and your skills as an advocate.

Your Honour arrived in Australia in 1967 as a Ten Pound Pom, the son of British mother, Eileen, who is present in Court, and Greek father, George, who met in England during the War. Your Honour grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne, excelling at Sunshine West High School, achieving the highest marks of any student at that school in your final year. This led to you undertaking an Arts Law Degree at the University of Melbourne in 1978. You were admitted to practice in 1985, having secured articles at Phillips Fox & Masel, now DLA Piper. It was in 1987 that you came to the Bar, and there began what has been an extraordinary 30-year career.

Your Honour read with the late Peter Hayes QC. At his best, Hayes was a brilliant advocate, one of the best of his generation, and had a particular genius for the forensic quest. However, he could be, let’s say, unpredictable. You were briefed with him often in your early years at the Bar in a series of high-profile, complex cases. The work was challenging, as was, on occasion, working with Hayes himself. But perhaps these experiences helped you develop one of your defining traits as a Barrister. Your Honour was simply never intimidated by anyone or anything, other than perhaps a little in-flight turbulence. By way of example, you were briefed with Hayes in a Sydney trial when you had been at the Bar only a very short time.

One day, partway through the trial, Hayes unexpectedly flew back to Melbourne, declining to take any further part in the case. Rather than seeking an adjournment, as any other junior particularly with your then-modest experience would have done, you chose to continue the trial, cross-examining the remaining witnesses and closing the case. This courage and fearlessness, albeit always coupled with dignity and sensitivity, are traits that your Honour has continued to display throughout your career. In recent times you took over a brief as lead counsel in a very large, complex matter at the last minute, a matter of weeks before it was set down for trial over many months. Although the trial ended up being adjourned for several weeks, your Honour was perfectly prepared to proceed as scheduled, despite the very limited time you had to prepare and get across an enormous volume of material.

Your Honour established yourself very early as an expert in complex commercial litigation, including many leading cases interstate. This was no doubt as a result of your hard work and diligence, but also because of your significant intellect and talent as an advocate. Your Honour’s presence in Court was commanding and extremely persuasive. You had a quiet authority, which left Judges and onlookers alike hanging on every word. You were a master of the courtroom. It was not long into your Honour’s career at the Bar that you were briefed in the Bond Brewing appeal, described by the Full Court of the Victorian Supreme Court as “the most momentous ex parte order ever made by an Australian Court.”

In that case you acted for the respondent banks and served as junior to the legendary S.E.K. Hulme QC, Ray Finklestein QC and John Kakar QC. Even in this stellar company, you proved yourself to be invaluable. John Waters, formerly of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and now retired, your instructor in this matter, describes your Honour as “worldly, with a multifaceted view of legal problems, and utterly professional”. Your Honour also appeared in the, dare I say it, notorious case of Olympic Airways v Alysandratos, in which a large roadshow comprising Judge, Counsel and Solicitors, all travelled to Greece to take evidence on commission, and which culminated in one of the more unusual apprehended bias applications ever seen in the Victorian Supreme Court, but perhaps that’s a story for another day.

Your Honour went on to build a commercial practice founded on large and complex cases in the financial and securities sector, particularly recovery and insolvency matters. In the wake of the GFC you acted for numerous secured lenders in matters connected with the forestry, horticultural, film and other managed investment schemes. Your Honour was appointed Silk in 2002. As a QC, your Honour carved out an excellent reputation for acting in class actions. Of note, as we have heard, you acted for the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, as it then was, and the Country Fire Authority in the Black Saturday Kilmore fire class action, and the DSE again in the Black Saturday Murrindindi case. The former case when for a year and a half before it settled prior to judgment.

But your Honour’s extraordinary contribution to the profession deserves special attention. It would be hard to find another who has done more for the Bar than your Honour. This is driven by your steadfast belief in the college of the Bar, a unique institution which depends upon current members being prepared to invest their time and resource for the benefit of future generations of Barristers. This you have done in your low-key, dedicated way since the beginning of your career. It was in 1993 that your Honour was first appointed as a Director of Barristers’ Chambers Limited, and you have served as Chairman not once, but twice, from 2003 to 2008, and again in 2017.

If there is a more thankless task than the role of Chairman of BCL, I don’t know what it is. But your Honour has both times embraced the role and you have done so because you recognise the vital importance of BCL to the college of the Bar as the single most important factor in eliminating barriers to entry. Under your leadership, by 2008 the company had managed significant changes whilst maintaining a steadily improving financial position, culminating in the repayment of all debt. Your Honour’s commitment to the affairs of BCL and the services it provides members of the Bar has been unwavering. Your Honour has been elected to and served on the Bar Council no less than five times since 2008, and has been appointed to many committees, too many to mention.

As we’ve heard, notably you have been a frequent appointment to and, indeed, Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee, no doubt in recognition of your strong financial acumen, a talent regarded as relatively rare amongst your peers. It was as President of the Victorian Bar in 2016 that an impressive body of work was completed, including the development of a new strategic plan for 2017 to 2020 to shape the future work of the Bar Council, the complete redevelopment of the Victorian Bar website, and the planning and execution of the inaugural Junior Bar Conference.

As President, your Honour was a champion for diversity and inclusion within the profession. At your Honour’s initiative, a student engagement event was convened at the City of Hume to promote diversity. The then Victorian Chief Justice, the Honourable Marilyn Warren, and the Honourable Justice Gordon, of the High Court, spoke to over 200 City of Hume secondary students about a career in the law and at the Bar. Other barristers, reflecting the diversity of the Bar, attended and spent time with students, many of whom would never have dreamed of the law as a possible career before that day. The object, driven by your Honour, was to encourage those from non-traditional backgrounds to consider a career as a barrister, and more broadly to empower them not to place limits on their ambition. It was an example of your Honour’s commitment both to the Bar and its diversity in its fullest sense.

Your Honour has had five Readers, and been a mentor to many more junior barristers. You are described as quietly spoken, articulate, and very generous with your time, expertise and your vast intellect. It was a pleasure to be briefed as your Honour’s Junior, because you were always respectful of a Junior’s views and input, and also gave many opportunities to learn by taking witnesses and making oral submissions. This is a reflection of one of your Honour’s key traits: an extraordinary generosity, which permeates all aspects of your professional and personal existence.

In the wide consultation which has taken place in preparation for a speech of this kind, one of the most consistent themes that has been repeated about your Honour was your quiet and unwavering support for women at the Bar. When doing a brief together, your Honour invited one of your Juniors and her family to join your family for a weekend at your property in Hepburn, so you could discuss the case in a civilised manner, in front of the fire. To facilitate this, you went so far as to have a baby-cam installed in the house. When the same matter was subsequently called into Court for a directions hearing on short notice, and your Junior was at school pick-up, you happily went along in her place.

One Junior recalls attempting to return a brief to your Honour as she was about to go on maternity leave. Your Honour refused to allow her to return the brief, keeping her involved in the matter and picking up the slack, allowing her to make a smooth transition back to work from maternity leave, safe in the knowledge that she had work to return to.

My personal experience of working with your Honour reflects the same experience. Family comes first, and everything else will work itself out, generally because your Honour makes sure it does so.

Your humanity is perhaps your defining characteristic. It is not reserved for Juniors, but is also extended to your clients. You acted for three retired directors who were being joined as defendants in the OZ Minerals class action litigation. Your Honour is described as displaying tremendous empathy for the personal toll that the matter was taking on these individuals, with their wellbeing your primary concern.

Now, your Honour is passionate about many things, some of which might be somewhat disrespectfully be described as “boys’ toys”: powerful cars, powerful motorbikes, and boats among them. Indeed, your introduction to the Federal Court complex has already hit a couple of bumps in the road, if you will, as a result of these passions of yours. Your Honour’s faithful Mercedes has recently been spied in your allocated parking space in the Federal Court car park. It is the size of a small armoured personnel carrier, which makes it hard to miss. However, any hope of anonymity vanished when this Stuttgart behemoth failed to start, only a few days ago: this required the assistance of not one but two tow trucks. Your Honour then decided to use your 1200cc touring motorcycle as replacement transport: a fine idea, but for the fact that it was so loud that when it was driven into the Judges’ section of the Federal Court underground car park, it set off the alarm system.

Your Honour is also a somewhat impulsive buyer, with a house on the Greek island of Lefkada that you spied on one late-night internet trawl being one of your most recent purchases. You and your extraordinary wife, Sandra, are both very warm and generous hosts, and that Mediterranean bolthole allows your Honour to indulge your enthusiasm for cooking Greek cuisine and, of course, drinking Greek wine. Another of your Honour’s purchases was the comely floating vessel which rejoices in the name of the Sandra Philomena. No doubt this purchase played a part in giving rise to your affectionate nickname “Aristotle”.

Your Honour’s passion for soccer is lived vicariously through your very talented son Alex. I understand that you are up to version 27 of a draft contract in preparation for when Alex is signed to play for Manchester United. No pressure at all, Alex. One unkind correspondence suggested, though, that Alex’ sporting prowess was obviously more attributable to your wife, Sandra, than to your Honour.

To your Honour, family is first, and it is everything. It is wonderful that your cousin, Eliana Pascalides, a senior litigation partner with an Athens law firm, has been able to be here today. Your wife, Sandra, and your three children, Zoë, Nicholas and Alex, are also here, and they have been the bedrock on which your career has been founded. The tragic death of your first wife, Annette, when your daughter, Zoë, was very young, brought Sandra into your life; and your Honour could not have wished for a better partner to support your remarkable career at the bar.

I join with your friends and colleagues in congratulating you on this appointment. On behalf of the ABA and the Victorian Bar, I wish your Honour joy in your appointment, and a long, satisfying and distinguished service on this Court. May it please the Court.

ANASTASSIOU J: Thank you, Ms Harris. Mr Webb, President of the Law Institute of Victoria.

MR S. WEBB: May it please the Court, I appear on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors of this State to welcome your Honour to the Federal Court of Australia. I also appear on behalf of the Law Council of Australia. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather, and pay our respects to their elders past and present, and to any elders here with us today.

When the Sunshine West High School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, a world champion boxer, a rock guitarist, and a Test cricketer were among its alumni. But Lester Ellis, Billy Thorpe and Colin Miller weren’t the only notables to have attended the school. Your Honour and your siblings, brothers Markos and John and sister Margarita, were also students, and have become high achievers yourselves.

Migrant factory workers populated Sunshine West in the 1970s, and were decent, hardworking people with aspirations for educating their children. Your Honour’s late father, George, a marine engineer, and your mother, Eileen, had similar fine traits and hopes in you and your siblings.

However, your interest in the law did hit a hurdle at school. At a school careers night, when you stated your study plans, the advisor’s tone was patronising and dismissive. However, such diffidence simply encouraged you to persist. The fruits of such determination are well catalogued today. Articled in 1984, at Philips Fox Masel, to Michael Salter, your Honour benefited from a solicitor who loved his job. It was insurance-based, leading-edge litigation work, which Mr Salter sometimes took to the fringes, sometimes dangerously and excitingly so, and with fingers poked into many pies. Now retired, he recalls your Honour as a trouble-free employee, who did more than was asked for him.

A solicitor of the firm whose example greatly impressed your Honour was Judith Earls, a pioneering lawyer who became its first female partner. Another solicitor, Peter Ashley, now a consultant with DLA Piper Australia, recalls your Honour as a charming young man, with a keen interest in the law, and an enthusiasm for the office’s social activities. While Mr Ashley believes you would have described yourself as a cocky young article clerk in a hurry, his recollection is of a seductively confident one, also in a hurry. What hasn’t changed in 34 years, he says, is your impeccable appearance, nor his gratefulness in experiences your Honour’s warmth and sincerity.

Solicitors Anthony Scott and Ross McClymont, and now barrister Kate Beatty, provided similar reflections in instructing your Honour. They speak variously of your calmness, outstanding strategic thinking, impressive presence, and genuine humility. Mr Scott, now a partner with Moray & Agnew Lawyers, briefed you in the Olympic Airways litigation that led to the luxurious basement of the Athens Intercontinental Hotel, where Justice David Harper took evidence on commission. This appointment to the Bench, says Mr Scott, is a testament to your consistent excellence over many years.

You worked with Mr McClymont, a partner at Ashurst, over the past decade, on a number of significant matters, most notably litigation from the collapse of Timbercorp and Gunns Limited. It required each of you to become experts on topics from the anticipated global market for Australian-grown almonds, the vagaries of discounted cash flows as applied to managed investment schemes, and the correct operation of section 601FS of the Corporations Act. Unflappable and unfailingly polite, your Honour distilled difficult concepts into succinct and clear submissions.

Affirming your Honour’s brilliant advocacy skills and amiable nature, Ms Beatty reports how you persuaded an Airline Attendant to move a young Instructing Solicitor to the front of the plane on an international flight home. However, there were, of course, sensible limits to your willingness to research all your cases. You drew the line at tasting Shiraz in a can in Tokyo during a case alleging patent infringement of a wine so packaged. Incidentally, your Honour was also sensitive to Japanese customs when interviewing local witnesses, to wear a facemask while battling a heavy cold. But when the gloves were off in Court, there was no concealing your intent or power of advocacy:

I put it to you that the only thing easy about trading options –

your Honour put succinctly to one witness:

…is that it’s easy to lose money.

And in submissions about the usefulness of a group’s website calculator designed to help growers estimate returns from a restructured investment scheme, you put bluntly to a Judge that the calculator was:

…true to only one equation, where R is for Rubbish.

Your Honour’s support of women in the law is meritorious. Perhaps lesser-known was your six volunteer years as a member of the Royal Women’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee. It reviews, approves and monitors projects, those that include pregnant women, premature babies and cancer patients. The committee’s Secretary, Arthur Hui, says the hospital’s research committee benefited enormously from your Honour’s considered opinions and logical thoughts. Your dedication, and others’, of course, has contributed significantly to improving health outcomes for women.

Your Honour is also not known to miss an opportunity. At the 2017 speech for the multifaith opening of the legal year, Victoria’s Governor, Linda Dessau, vouched for that trait. Her Excellency acknowledged a gracious thank you note you had previously sent, one in which you worked in a gentle reminder about the next multifaith event. Her Excellency noted the event was clearly dear to your Honour’s heart and added that:

While we did have it in hand, a polite little nudge is never misplaced.

We’re all thankful you have grasped this opportunity to further serve the rule of law and the community. Gentle reminders and little nudges aside, your Honour will make a fine Judge. May it please the court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Webb. Justice Anastassiou.

ANASTASSIOU J: Chief Justice Allsop, Justice Nettle, Chief Justice Alstergren, the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC and Mrs Chernov, the Honourable Susan Crennan AC QC, Ms Walker QC, Solicitor-General for Victoria, Ms Batrouney QC, President of the Australian Bar Association, Dr Collins QC, President of the Victorian Bar, the Honourable Michael Black AC QC, Mrs Maria Myers AC, Judges, former Judges, distinguished guests of the Chief Justice, colleagues, friends and family, ladies and gentlemen. I thank each of you very sincerely and respectfully for coming today. I am honoured that so many people have made the time to be here. I thank you, Dr Donaghue, Ms Harris, and Mr Webb, for your generous words. To you, Ms Harris, I should add that this is the first time I have appreciated your editorial skill with the red pen. I thank you for deploying it so generously in the preparation of your remarks.

It is a great privilege to have been appointed to the Federal Court of Australia. The Court is the institutional embodiment of the oath I have given today. It is now my duty to discharge that oath to the best of my ability in the interests of the Australian community.

Today, however, my duty is far simpler, but very important to me at a personal level. It is to acknowledge and thank the many people who have helped me on my journey to this point. A few of my wise friends who are members of this Court have advised me above all to keep my remarks brief. That is undoubtedly sage advice; but even so, I cannot be expected always to follow the lead of my brother or sister Judges. In any case, define “brief”.

Commencing at the macro level, I have much to thank the Australian community for, including the good fortune to live in a decent society governed by the rule of law. As you have heard, my family arrived in Australia in July 1967, and settled in West Sunshine. We were generously embraced by the local Greek and Cypriot communities. Our first home was a small bungalow at the rear of my aunt Helen’s house, set in the middle of an abundant vegetable garden. The bungalow was the first home to many migrants from the early 1950s until the 1970s. Sadly, Helen passed away only a few weeks ago, but I am pleased to say that her daughter, Rita, and her granddaughter, Eleni, are here today, and I am very pleased to see them.

One of the great blessings I have been given is the opportunity for an education. I wish to acknowledge publicly the teachers who I was privileged to be taught by throughout my primary, secondary and tertiary studies. I have remained lifelong friends with some of them. I acknowledge in particular Mrs Jo Dubarry, who was the headmistress of my local primary school; and, though she cannot be here today, due to ill health, her daughter is here. She is also a fine teacher. I acknowledge also another teacher and mentor from that period of my life who is here today, Mr Bruce Ivy.

As a result of the teaching and encouragement of so many dedicated teachers throughout my primary and secondary education, I was able to gain entry to the Arts Faculty and the Law School at the University of Melbourne. At the same time, I was awarded a scholarship to reside at Ormond College. From then onwards, I became a beneficiary of a tradition of philanthropy and of the advancement of education that has its roots in the Scottish Enlightenment. I am very grateful for that.

I should pause for a moment to allay the apprehensions of my brothers sitting to my rear, who have urged brevity, and to assure each of you that I do not propose to deliver, ex tempore, an autobiography to be transcribed at the public expense. I shall further dwell on my childhood only so far as to say that I had the matchless blessing of a mother and father who loved me and my siblings unconditionally. They impressed upon us that privilege and duty are conjoined twins: those to whom much is given, much is expected. I am delighted that my mother, Eileen, is here today, together with my siblings, Marcos, Margarita and John, and their partners.

I have another sibling here today, Eliana, though strictly speaking she is my cousin. Eliana is a lawyer in Athens, specifically a litigator, with whom I have been very close since my early twenties, when we circumnavigated Crete in her Mini Minor. Not much has changed since then. She still drives at the maximum speed her car is capable of reaching, except now she drives a more comfortable and faster car. I shall not say anything about trying to explain to Eliana that she could enter Australia with only one packet of cigarettes duty-free. Eliana speaks court quality English, but apparently she thought I meant one carton – she pronounces, “one car-toon” – not one packet, which she pronounces, “package? Only one package?”

I wish to acknowledge and thank my wife’s siblings and their partners for being here today. Sandra’s family migrated to Australia from Bombay in 1968. It is most unfortunate that Sandra’s mother is unable to be here today, also for health reasons. It is fair to say that the chance of Sandra and I meeting had more to do with the post-war Australian immigration policy than anything else.

As you can see, between the Anastassiou clan and Sandra’s family, there are quite a few of us. I trust it will give you some idea of what family gatherings are like – just think My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Slumdog Millionaire. Despite the cacophony of it all, I am blessed to be a member of two families from such rich and ancient cultures.

I owe a large debt of gratitude to many members of the legal profession who encouraged me and assisted me over the years. I began my professional journey, as you have heard, articled to Michael Salter at Phillips Fox & Masel as it then was. Michael was a warm and energetic man, who despite having an enormous practice, made time to teach and to guide me. As a newly admitted solicitor, I had the privilege to work with one of the pioneering women of the legal professional in Melbourne, Judith Earls. She was at that time among a handful of women who were partners of a major law firm. I am delighted to say that since that time I have had the opportunity to work with very many excellent women lawyers from all sectors of the legal profession.

A good deal has been said about my time at the Bar. It has been my home and my community for more than half my life, and that is an experience that will always remain with me. I was fortunate to read with Peter Hayes. He “got me in”, as we say, as his junior in many large cases during my early years. It was through Peter that I came to know many of the leaders of the Bar at that time, including Ross Robson, now Justice Robson, and Stephen Charles AO QC, who I am delighted to see is here today, as is Justice Robson. I had the privilege of being led by some of the great leaders of the Bar. I am honoured that many of them are here today. There is no need to mention them by name, save for the late S.E.K. Hulme QC.

I was fortunate, as you’ve heard, to be briefed by John Waters from Mallesons as the baby junior in a team of counsel led by S.E.K. in the case that followed the appointment of receivers to the Bond companies in late 1989. That brief was a turning point in my career for a number of reasons, including, most importantly, that it gave me the opportunity to work with and observe some of the very best counsel at the Victorian Bar, as well as counsel from the New South Wales Bar. Over the years I have had the benefit of learning from counsel who have led me, from my opponents, my juniors, and my readers. I thank each of them and I thank the many solicitors who have entrusted their clients’ cases to me over my career. I also thank my Clerk, David Andrews, and all of the staff of List A for their support for over 30 years. I thank my Executive Assistant, Lori Valesi, for her support and for managing me.

I would like to say just one thing concerning the Bar with which I am familiar, the Victorian Bar, and it is this: it is a healthy college. The collegiality of the Bar is noticeable from within in many ways – in the decency with which counsel generally engage with each other, in its broader mission to the community through pro bono activities, in the genuine concern of so many of its members and of the college itself, for the welfare of Barristers, in the unique chambers arrangements, at the many dinners and after-dinner speeches that follow, and in its reverence for its leaders and heroes, depicted so graphically in the most aptly named Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery.

There will, of course, always be challenges for the Bar, and the Bar must continue to ask itself how it can improve. But at its core, the Bar serves the administration of justice with distinction. Needless to say, I look forward to the assistance of counsel from the Victorian Bar and from each of the Bars, as well as from the wider legal profession in my new role as a Judge. I will say this only once: please do not disappoint me.

I have had the luxury of quite a lead time between the announcement of my appointment and today. I cannot overstate the welcome I have been given by the Chief Justice and by the Judges of the Court, as well as by the Registrars and all of the Court staff.

As you have heard, I moved physically into the Court to find that I needed not one but two tow trucks to remove my car: one low-clearance tow truck to tow it out into the street, and another larger one to tow it away. As you can imagine, I thought, “Well, this is a bit embarrassing.” Fortunately, the cheerful security staff could not have been more diplomatic. Not even a hint of amusement at my expense.

Finally, I thank my wife, Sandra Philomena, and my children for their love and care for me. I am immensely proud of my children, Zoë, Nicholas and Alexander. There is nothing I have yet experienced that exceeds my expectations so profoundly as the joy I feel when I see my children. I can pay no higher compliment to my beloved wife than to say, the joy I feel when I see my children is matched only by the joy I feel when I see her. Thank you.

ALLSOP CJ: Before the Court adjourns, District Registrar, you have the Commission. Please take the subscribed Oath of Office and enter both in the records of the Court. The Court will now adjourn.