Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court

TO WELCOME THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RAPER

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THE HONOURABLE JAMES ALLSOP AO, Chief Justice
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE GREENWOOD
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE PERRAM
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE JAGOT
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE NICHOLAS
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE YATES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE FARRELL
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE WIGNEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE PERRY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BROMWICH
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BURLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE LEE
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE THOMAS
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BANKS-SMITH
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE THAWLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE STEWART
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE ABRAHAM
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE HALLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE CHEESEMAN
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE GOODMAN
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RAPER

SYDNEY

9.30 AM, FRIDAY, 10 JUNE 2022


ASSOCIATE: Welcome of the Honourable Justice Raper.

ALLSOP CJ: Welcome everyone to the ceremonial sitting of the Court to welcome the Honourable Justice Raper. Present with the judges of the New South Wales District Registry are Justice Greenwood, a senior Queensland judge, Justice Banks-Smith, a senior Western Australian judge, and Justice Thomas from Queensland. May I welcome you all to this ceremony in person. May I say, once again, how delightful it is to see everyone in the courtroom. I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging and to First Nations people who may be here today. I particularly welcome the members of Justice Raper’s family.

Justice Raper, your husband, Sean, your daughter, Eleni, your mother, Rosemary, your father, Frederic, your sister, Katherine, and your mother-in-law, Wendy, and your many friends here today from both inside and outside the profession. I acknowledge the presence of the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the Honourable Andrew Bell, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Honourable Julie Ward, Judges of the Court of Appeal Justices Mitchelmore and Kirk, Justices Wright and Peden of the Supreme Court and Justice Robson of the Land and Environment Court, Judges of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, the Honourable Rolf Driver, the Honourable Nicholas Manousaridis, and Judge Scotting of the District Court, Deputy President Owen of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Vice President Hatcher of the Fair Work Commission.

At the bar table, Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Honourable Mark Dreyfus QC MP, the President of the New South Wales Bar Association, Gabrielle Bashir SC and Ms Joanne Van der Plaat, the President of the New South Wales Law Society.

Justice Raper, you have been on the court a little over a month after a startling swearing in with the assistance of the fire alarm. All the Judges of the Court around Australia, wherever they are, welcome you most formally to the Court. You will find, I hope, it a collegiate and happy place for you to work. May you enjoy your work on a Court in years to come.

Mr Attorney.

HON M. DREYFUS QC MP:  May it please the Court. I would like to begin by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. I would like to extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples present today. It’s a great privilege to be here today to congratulate your Honour on your appointment as a Justice of the Federal Court of Australia at my first welcome ceremony as Attorney-General. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the Australian Government for your Honour’s willingness to serve as a Judge of the is Court, and the Government extends its best wishes for your career on the bench.

That so many of your colleagues in the legal profession are here today is testament to the high regard in which your colleagues hold your Honour. May I particularly acknowledge the Honourable Andrew Bell, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the Honourable Julie Katherine Ward, President of the Court of Appeal Supreme Court of New South Wales, Mr Tass Liveris who I think is with us remotely, the President of the Law Council of Australia, Ms Gabrielle Bashir, President of the New South Wales Bar Associate, Ms Joanne van der Plaat, President of the Law Society of New South Wales, other current and former members of the judiciary and members of the legal profession and may I also acknowledge the presence of your Honour’s family who proudly share this occasion with you.

Time does not permit a full listing of your Honour’s achievements and the contributions you have made to the law. Therefore, today, I will focus on some key qualities and achievements that mark your distinguished career to date. I’m told that your Honour developed advocacy skills from an early age. As a young child, every night you would choose a topic for debate with your father. After debate, you would claim the 20 cent winner’s prize from him. This was followed by a note thanking your father for the money and assuring him that you still loved him despite winning the debate, perhaps establishing your Honour’s ability to write succinct submissions.

Your Honour’s broad interests were evidence through your school and university years. In addition to excelling academically, I understand your Honour practiced ballet for a number of years, winning choreography competitions, once sang at the Opera House and ran many university clubs. Your Honour graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts in 1996 and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) in 1998. Your Honour was admitted as a solicitor in 1999 and subsequently as a barrister in 2005. Your Honour was appointed Senior Counsel in 2019. Throughout your Honour’s career, you’ve excelled in complex employment and industrial disputes, discrimination and administrative law matters, regulatory enforcement cases, coronial inquests and public inquiries.

You have acted for large corporate and government entities, individuals, unions and regulatory agencies. Your Honour’s many noticeable cases include ground-breaking discrimination and industrial matters such as Fair Work Ombudsman v Jet Star Airways Limited. Your Honour recently appeared for the State of New South Wales in one of the largest class actions heard in the State which concerned junior doctors’ overtime entitlements. Your Honour is recognised as a leader in your field not only for your significant advocacy experience and expertise but also for your development of the profession through research, publications, teaching and mentoring junior practitioners.

You have written and contributed to seminal academic publications. You are an adjunct Senior Lecturer in law at Sydney University and I understand you are regularly invited to present at universities, law firms and government agencies across Australia. Peers have described you as a confidant, advisor and supporter of countless young solicitors and barristers. Your Honour’s wide breadth of knowledge, expertise and leadership will no doubt be a valuable asset for the Bench.

I turn now to speak of a few of the personal qualities that have led to your appointment to this Court. Throughout your career, your Honour has been known for your attention to detail and humbled nature.

I am told on one occasion, when your Honour identified a potentially embarrassing mistake made by your opposing counsel, you quietly pulled them aside to assist them so that they could correct the error rather than grandstanding or making mileage out of their misfortune. This exemplifies your Honour’s integrity and fairness. Your Honour has been described by your colleagues as a good communicator and as a person who listens attentively and can recognise and acknowledge the legitimacy of other points of view, even when different from your own or from that of your client, an extremely important attribute to have on the Bench.

I am told that your Honour goes above and beyond to help your colleagues, from answering a phone call in the middle of a court day to help another lawyer with their matter, supplying treats and cheese in chambers to lighten the mood – that sounds very good, your Honours – or a spontaneous game of table tennis. Your Honour ensures that those around you are supported in their professional work and their wellbeing. You’ve been described as a role model within the legal community and the public at large. In addition to being devoted to family, I’ve been told your Honour is an avid cross-country skier, an extremely fast long-distance runner, enjoys yoga and has a keen interest in bird spotting. Your Honour often spends weekends bushwalking with your daughter, Eleni. You have a great appetite for literature, recently reading Russian classics, presumably with a cup of tea, which I’ve heard your Honour enjoys very much.

Your Honour’s appointment to this court acknowledges your dedication to the law and accomplishments in the legal profession. Your Honour takes on this judicial office with the best wishes of the Australian legal profession and it is trusted that you will approach this role with exceptional dedication to the law as you have shown throughout your career. On behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people, I extend to you my sincere congratulations and welcome you to the Federal Court of Australia. May it please the court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Attorney. Ms Bashir, President of the New South Wales Bar Association and representing the Australian Bar Association.

MS BASHIR SC: Thank you, your Honour. May it please the court. I begin by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and I pay respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. Of course, while we are physically on Gadigal land, this Federal Court meets on the lands of many of our first nations and I also acknowledge and pay my respects to elders, past, present and emerging, of first nations people on country across the land. Chief Justice Allsop, it is my great privilege to speak at this ceremony on behalf of the New South Wales Bar and the Australian Bar Association and to welcome the appointment of the honourable Justice Elizabeth Raper to the bench of the Federal Court.

We are grateful to the former Attorney General for this outstanding appointment. An appointment which has been acclaimed by all members of the Bar, especially those who practice in this Federal Jurisdiction. Justice Raper, to your colleagues in chambers and to the wider Bar, you are sensitive, joyous and generous. A good friend to many with a formidable mind and exceptional advocacy and advisory talent to boot. I use the word “colleagues” after some consideration. “Fanbase” might be more appropriate. The Bar Association server has groaned under the weight of congratulatory emails as your Honour – as to your Honour, some of which arrived even before we had time to announce your Honour’s appointment.

We didn’t dare to check social media. Perfectly sober, erudite members of the Bar positively gushed about your Honour in the same breath as Dostoevsky, bird watching or solo roof climbing, the Rabbitohs, single malt Scotch whiskey, interior decorating, hallway cricket and golf in the west wing indoor sporting club. To someone who shares chambers with Odgers, Game and Boulten, apart from the Dostoevsky, it all seemed highly improbable. Your Honour graduated from, as we’ve heard, the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law with Honours in 1998. Your career began as an associate to the Honourable Justice Paul Munro, Senior Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

You were admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court in April 1999 and went on to work at Baker and McKenzie, practicing in employment law discrimination and commercial litigation. By all accounts, you excelled there. In 2001, you spent a year in the firm’s London office before returning to Sydney as a senior associate until 2004. Since 2005, your Honour has been an adjunct lecturer and then adjunct senior lecturer at Sydney Law School and, in more recent times, you have co-authored with Chris Ronalds SC two editions of discrimination law and practice. Happily, your Honour was called to the Bar in May 2005.

You read with Kate Eastman and Trish McDonald when they were still senior juniors and found a room on the 10th floor Selborne Wentworth fresh from completing the Bar Practice Course. Your first case as a barrister was for the ABC defending a freedom of information application brought by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, which sought access to the ABCs editorial policies regarding its coverage of the Iraq war. In 2008, your Honour moved to the 5th floor Wentworth chambers and it’s around this time that stories began to emerge of constructive criticism of the interior decorating in chambers. According to my source, your Honour has a highly developed, sophisticated and refined sense of style and a good eye for classic mid-century furniture.

She was always available for advice. I’m assured that your Honour’s availability for advice was not limited to furnishings and that in the best traditions of the Bar your Honour’s expertise was readily available to juniors and others on the floor. The sense of loss on 5 Wentworth is palpable. One of our sources said, “5 Wentworth will be the poorer for her Honour’s departure. It goes without saying that the benefit of her immense legal acumen and her unwavering support for her colleagues will be greatly missed but, more importantly, the floor will now need to find a replacement provider of high quality chocolate, single malt whisky and fine wines.”

That statement is, of course, further on contestable evidence that 5 Wentworth’s loss is the court’s gain. In 2018, your Honour was elected to Bar Council and you took silk the following year. Your Honour was a calm, courteous, thoughtful, clever and wise member of Bar Council and your contributions were held in great store by your fellow counsellors. I had the Honour to serve with your Honour during that period and would like to personally thank your Honour for your contribution and service to the New South Wales Bar. Your Honour was also of great assistance on our working party updating our best practice guidelines, which we finally launched last week, and have incorporated changes to the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Legalisation.

Your Honour will be a valuable assistance in the important work by this court on respectful relations and the practical application of the law in relation to unlawful harassment, discrimination and bullying. By virtue of dedication and hard and respected work, your Honour built a thriving practice in employment discrimination and administrative law and in appellant work as well as inquests and commissions of inquiry. You have appeared in many high-profile sexual harassment cases, including with Fernon SC in Richardson v Oracle Corporation Australia Proprietary Limited in the Full Court of this court, which created precedent on the nature of damages award for victims of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.

Other significant recent matters involving your Honour including Duraisamy v Sydney Trains in the New South Wales Court of Appeal and Selma v Sydney Trains and Rossi v Qantas Airways Limited (no. 2) in this court. I note that your Honour also appeared for the Fair Work Ombudsman in a number of recent matters, including Fair Work Ombudsman v HSCC Proprietary Limited, otherwise known as Hero Sushi, and Fair Work Ombudsman v Amritsaria 4 Proprietary Limited, otherwise known as 7-Eleven, which workers were subjected to egregious treatment at the hands of unscrupulous employers. Having recounted but some of your Honour’s extraordinary achievements in the law, I would like to extend a warm welcome to your Honour’s family and friends, especially your husband, Sean, and your daughter, Eleni, today.

The love and support of family and dear friends are of inestimable value to legal practitioners and those operating under the pressures of the bench. And we acknowledge your family, Justice Raper, and their contribution to your journey to this faithful day. In the realm of the personal and fate, we also acknowledge that we are privileged to be here today thanks to both your Honour’s extraordinary luck and sound judgment. In December 2004, your Honour was travelling in Sri Lanka with your now husband, Sean. I’m told that on the fateful morning of December 26, Boxing Day, 2004, you dragged him to church. That church happened to rest on a hill behind your hotel.

During the mass, a tsunami smashed into the resort and swept away whole villages on the coastal plain. 31,000 people lost their lives in Sri Lanka alone. The magnitude of that disaster left its mark on the works and, no doubt, on your Honour. Surviving natural disaster is something many Australians have endured, even in the last few years. There are no doubt more natural disasters in store for the world and our country will not be spared. This court will no doubt have novel applications of the law thrown up by them. Time such as natural disaster and this ongoing world pandemic are a great reminder of common humanity, dignity, fortitude and resilience. Your Honour bears all of these features in spades.

Justice Raper, there is no doubt whatsoever that by virtue of skill, training and experience, your place is here on the bench of the Federal Court. It is a place that we hope you occupy for some time. This Court is recognised both at home and abroad as a modern, dynamic Court with a diverse jurisdiction. During the pandemic, it has undergone further transformation, both in its digital practice and its national approach. Your Honour is well suited to this place and although the Bar will miss you very much, we recognise that your Honour was rightly called to your new home away from home. We wish you every success, your Honour. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Ms Bashir. Mr Tass Liveris, the President of the Law Council of Australia, and speaking also on behalf of the Law Society of New South Wales. Mr Liveris.

MR T. LIVERIS: May it please the Court. I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the country on which we all meet and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging and I extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today. It is a great honour for me to represent the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of New South Wales and its president, Joanne van der Plaat, to welcome your Honour’s appointment to this honourable Court. I thank the Court for permitting my appearance to be made by audio-visual link.

As has been detailed, your Honour joins the Court with an established reputation, both academically and in legal practice as one of the nation’s leading employment and discrimination barristers. Your colleagues have described your Honour as a brilliant and impressive orator, a hard worker, generous and a pleasure to work with. Your strong, empathetic advocacy, expertise and diligent preparation and attention to detail have earned you the admiration and respect of your peers. I am told that your cross-examinations will be sorely missed by your colleagues – your fan base, as Ms Bashir described them, but perhaps not so much by the witnesses.

As a leader in employment and industrial law, your Honour is renowned for your focus and your ability to see past the political and ideological lens through which disputes in this area can sometimes be viewed. Your Honour’s ability to home in on the nub of the dispute with efficiency and skill has made you the barrister of choice for so many. Your Honour also has an unusual personal connection to the development of the law of qualified privilege, though this did not become apparent to you until after you had commenced practice. I am told that in your early days at the Bar, your Honour was reading the then-seminal 1947 High Court case of Guise v Kouvelis.

There, the respondent had come to Australia from Greece at the turn of the 20th century and established himself as a successful self-made businessman, as well as a particularly litigious one. The case involved alleged defamatory statements he made to the appellant at the Hellenic Club in Sydney when he intervened in a card game and accused him of cheating in front of a large group of people. The respondent’s defence was pleaded in qualified privilege and that as a founding member of the club, he had a duty to inform the members and others present that the appellant was a cheat.

While the respondent would surely have doubted that his public accusation at a card game at the club would end up in the High Courts, which did not accept his arguments, he would have also very much doubted that some decades later, his great-granddaughter would be reading about the card game in a law report as part of her work as a barrister, as it transpired when your Honour realised your family connection to the matter. In hearing that story, I was interested to learn of your Honour’s maternal Hellenic origins, which your Honour is very proud of. In fact, I am told that your Honour is an extremely competitive Pastitsio chef. It is a sign of your Honour’s commitment to baking the perfect Greek beef and pasta dish and outdoing all culinary challenges that your Honour is also a vegetarian.

As the Attorney touched on, beyond the Courtroom and the Greek kitchen, your Honour is well-known as a keen runner and birdwatcher. It was suggested to me that there have been times when these interests have overlapped and your Honour has used your speed and skills to point bewildered park rangers in the right direction as they have searched for the daytime hiding places of owls in the Royal Botanic Garden. Your Honour’s appointment has been welcomed amongst the legal profession. You have been described by many as an inspirational mentor and a natural teacher. Your Honour has been an adjunct senior lecturer in law at Sydney University since 2003, is the discrimination editor of the Thompsons Workplace Review and has literally written the book on discrimination law and practice which, as has been said, you co-authored with Chris Ronalds SC.

Your Honour is also extremely generous with your time and knowledge and show genuine care for the well-being of the lawyers and clients you work with. Many recall and remember the particular care your Honour showed during the various COVID lockdowns. There is no doubt that on the Bench your Honour will continue to apply yourself tirelessly and fairly to all the matters brought before you. On behalf of the legal profession, congratulations. The people of Australia will be privileged to be served by you in this new role and I wish you well in your years of service ahead. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Liveris. Justice Raper.

RAPER J: Chief Justice, Chief Justice Bell, President of the Court of Appeal and other distinguished guests, judges, friends and family, I am deeply honoured to join this venerable institution – Australia’s national Court, its Court of the future, which enjoys its reputation arising from the skill of its very fine lawyers. Thank you for coming and honouring this Court by your presence today and to those of you watching on livestream.

As you have heard, the majority of my working life has been spent on this land, the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I have worked on wintery Phillip Street, taught and studied across the road, run and spied out the powerful owls at lunchtime in the gardens. Thank you to the Gadigal people for looking after this land for the last 70,000 years. I pay my respects to your elders, past, present and emerging.

Thank you, Attorney-General. Thank you, Ms Gabrielle Bashir. Thank you, Ms Tass Liveris, for your kind words. You have outdone yourselves in describing me in a fictionalised, largely unrecognisable way, perhaps save for my unsolicited comments to my members of the floor about their interiors.

In truth, I was the contrary, precocious second child of an asymmetrical match. My mother, a Greek-born, Sorbonne-educated linguist, one of the many feminists of her time. My father, a 10 pound Pom, a gentlemen, a racket sport man, a conservative red Tory. I was raised in the Hellenic tradition largely by a combination of my grandparents, particularly my grandmother, Blanche, my father and an army of babysitters, while my mother forged out her career. I learned the value of women’s work.

When my sister, Katherine, and I were little, we would sing a song at night in the bath, blocking our noses for effect at the same time, “Mummy is coming back in the morning.” This was much to my mother’s horror when she found out. No, she was not a lady of the night, but teaching French at Bankstown TAFE. I learned the importance of the ability to work flexibly.

I do not come from a legal family, but my family does like to argue. They are people who are engaged in the world, have views of a political, social and literary kind. Those debates often played out at the dinner table, were intergenerational. We even often held opposing views which were deeply held based on different historical and religious experience. I routinely, perhaps deliberately, took differing views to that of my father.

I learned in those debates that there were at least always two sides. Difference of opinion was ordinary and accepted, the debate vital and respectful. In the age of outrage and an increasing number of binary positions, it’s important to reflect on and acknowledge the need for the ability to hold different views, but to voice them respectfully. What also I observed was despite some Hellenic fieriness in the debates, we’re also Catholics, so immediate forgiveness is necessary. My father would always immediately forget and forgive me and move on and proffer up the dessert.

My parents taught me the importance of hard work, the primacy of education and ensuring that you must not waste any privilege afforded to you by luck or birth. By my mother’s example, I learned to choose work that engaged my mind. By my father’s example, I learned the necessity of having a life outside work, of making long-term friendships, and physical exercise is a panacea to too much though. My sister is my staunchest ally and always showered me with kindness and love, despite me being very irritating to her.

At high school, I was quite pious. The annual magazines only showed photographs of me holding up large religious candles. Perhaps that is why, at the end of year 12, I was invited to attend a retreat for novice nuns. I politely declined, but that says nothing about the profound effect the Loreto nuns had on me and the respect I hold for them.

University, for me, was an explosion of opportunity, mostly of the social kind. I made lifelong friends. Thank you for being here. By third year, though, I realised it was time to fully embrace the academic opportunities that university offered me. How fortunate was I to be taught by Professor Mary Crock and Professor Ron McCallum, both of whom unfortunately are not here today because they are unwell. At that time, the Patricks dispute was playing out before Justice North in this court and Professor McCallum opened my eyes to the Australian history since Federation of the regulation of work, its fundamental importance in the legal system and to the economy, the vital role that this court has played in the resolution of those disputes affecting millions of Australians.

I then had the good fortune to be an associate to Justice Munro, who is here today. I witnessed him attend his role assiduously, making very difficult decisions which affected the lives of many Australian workers with remarkable compassion. Most particularly when dealing with the massive redundancies occurring in the steel industry in Newcastle at that time. I will try very hard to emulate his qualities, but know that I can only try. My time at the Commission gave me one of my greatest gifts of industrial friendship. I met Elizabeth Ferrier, another associate, and we have been firm friends ever since. We went on to be associates at Baker McKenzie together and have followed each other’s legal paths to this day, speaking often with nerdish enthusiasm about the evolution of the law. I could not do without her.

One of the great joys of the legal profession is the ability to work with and converse with so many people who are truly engaged in the law.

At Baker McKenzie, Paul Brown, my partner, dropped me in the deep end and made me run my own cases, including discrimination ones. He is formidable, clever and intensely loyal, though he could be difficult for which I am immensely grateful because that led to a revolving door of associates whose talents spread across town and all became my clients, ultimately, when I came to the Bar. He briefed me for my first day at the Bar in cases before Justice Moore, Justice Buchanan and Justice Flick, unusual in those days for someone of my limited experience and gender.

A barrister is the product of the faith and quality of its solicitors. I owe an incredible debt to Paul and to all of the solicitors who gave me a chance and armed me so well for the battles. You made my time at the Bar so interesting, rewarding and fun.

I have taught for almost 20 years at the University of Sydney alongside such leading academics as Professor Joellen Riley Munton. The accessibility of legal education is paramount to the administration of justice.

When I took the plunge and came to the Bar, Kate Eastman SC and Trish McDonald SC were my tutors. They personify truly remarkable, talented senior silks at the Bar. I also adopted a surrogate tutor, the venerable Ms Chris Ronalds AO SC, and the path to that relationship reveals the specialness of the Sydney Bar. In my first year, I sat in a Courtroom waiting for the case to start. I was acting pro bono in a discrimination case seeking injunctive relief. Ms Ronalds came in in a flurry. The most senior discrimination silk in Australia was my opponent. My day was not looking good. The day was hard fought. We didn’t become friends. My client won and Chris barked, “I will see you in the Court of Appeal.” Two weeks later, though, she rang me up. I feared and ear-bashing, but instead she asked me to be her junior into a large public inquiry into the incidents of sexual harassment and sex discrimination in New South Wales Police. She has been my mentor ever since.

I am indebted to the New South Wales Bar for its collegiality, the talent that I have learned from and aspired to, the generosity of the open doors and the ability after a day’s hearing to be able to speak with my opponents as human beings, to resolve the difficult issues together. The Bar can be lonely when you come back from Court, but the lifts in the Selborne Wentworth building can be quite social and there is true camaraderie that you are all in it together. I am grateful to Stefan Balafoutis SC, who has been my firm friend since the beginning. Our humorous discourse each week has sustained me. This camaraderie was particularly so on 5 Wentworth, a floor of such immense talent, but also who are grounded, humoured me with ping-pong and golf in the corridor, and have always supported one another.

I thank all my readers and juniors for all our times together. You are incredibly talented. I am fortunate that this appointment has occurred before you eclipse me at the Bar.

I have not had one, but three clerks – Di Strathdee, Trish Hoff and Sarah Tiffen, all of whom have been incredible supports. I recall Di said to me in my first year at the Bar, “Elizabeth, go home. Your solicitors will not be at your funeral.” This advice has always resonated. I have worked hard, but I have always gone home, and I am an illustration of the modern Bar where you can.

My daughter, Eleni, has liberated me from myself. She brings me immeasurable joy each day and teaches me with her inquiring mind her knowledge and means and her boundless empathy for others. My husband, Sean, is a professional engineer who has an unusual quality not known at the Bar. He is often the smartest man in the room, but does not realise it. His generosity of spirit knows no bounds. He has truly cared for our greatest gift, Ms Eleni, in the true sense. His efforts, alongside my father, my uncle, John Kouvelis, and my mother-in-law, Wendy, in caring for Eleni, revealed that true equality for women can only be achieved when men care, by which I mean take on an equal role in the raising of a family and caring for our parents.

Without Sean, remarkable and delightful in so many respects, none of my success to date would be possible.

I acknowledge the tremendous loss we have experienced in the last week with the passing of Sir Gerard Brennan. It is apt to reflect on a public lecture that he gave in August 1990, when he described the role of the Judge as standing in the lonely, no man or woman’s land between government and the governed, between the wealthy and the poor, the strong and the weak. She or he can identify with neither, for partisanship robs the judge of the authority essential to the discharge of judicial office. As I sit here, with all of these outstanding Judges around me, I relish the opportunity to strive to discharge this office without fear or favour in the manner to which Sir Gerard Brennan described. I look forward to my time on the Bench and thank the Court for this most generous welcome today and at all times since my appointment as a Judge.

ALLSOP CJ: The Court will now adjourn.

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