Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court
For the Swearing In and Welcome of the Honourable Justice Edelman
Transcript of proceedings
THE HONOURABLE JAMES ALLSOP AO, CHIEF
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE DOWSETT AM
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE GREENWOOD
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE COLLIER
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE REEVES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RANGIAH
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE EDELMAN
4.30 PM, MONDAY, 20 APRIL 2015.
EDELMAN J: Chief Justice, I have the honour to announce that I have received a commission from His Excellency the Governor General appointing me as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I now present my commission.
ALLSOP CJ: District Registrar, please read the commission now.
DISTRICT REGISTRAR: Commission of appointment of a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I, General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, AKMC retired, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia acting with the advice of the federal executive council and under section 72 of the Constitution and subsection (6)(i) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 appoint the Honourable James Joshua Edelman, a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia to be a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, assigned to the Brisbane registry commencing on 20 April 2015 until he attains the age of 70 years. Signed and sealed with the great seal of Australia on 11 December 2014. Peter Cosgrove, Governor General, by His Excellency’s command George Brandis, Attorney General.
ALLSOP CJ: Justice Edelman, I now invite you to take the Oath of Office.
EDELMAN J: I, James Joshua Edelman, do swear that I will bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law that I 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 with our fear or favour, affection or ill will. So help me God.
ALLSOP CJ: I now invite you Justice Edelman to subscribe the form of Oath that you have just taken. District Registrar, I hand you the Oath and the Commission to be kept with the records of the court.
Justice Edelman, congratulations. Welcome. Justice Edelman, on behalf of the judges of the court and, in particular, your new Queensland colleagues, may I welcome you to the Court. Justice Logan has requested me to express his apologies for not being able to be here today being absent overseas. You are welcome and we all wish you the very best.
I propose to break my habit of not saying more than welcome at a swearing in. I am not creating precedent. Much is about to be said about your intellectual qualities and achievements. As will be clear, they are remarkable. What I do not wish lost in that description is a cardinal consideration to be recalled by all here today. You have exhibited in your nearly four years of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, sitting in crime and civil trials and on civil and criminal appeals, the finest judicial qualities of a practical, fair, patient and efficient judge. The court is fortunate to have your skill as a judge to deploy in its work. The academic and judicial stars have aligned to facilitate an additional appointment to the Queensland Registry. You will play, along with all the judges of this registry, a vital role in the refocusing of the Court as a truly national institution under the new national court framework. Welcome, very much, again.
MR G. BRANDIS QC: May it please the court. It is a great pleasure to be here today to offer congratulations on behalf of the government and the people of Australia on your Honour’s appointment as a justice of this court. It is a testament to the very high regard in which your Honour is held that so many members of the judiciary are present today to welcome you. There is also a significant representation from law schools, appropriately reflecting your Honour’s very distinguished place in the world of legal scholarship, about which I will say a little more in a moment.
May I particularly acknowledge the Honourable Justice Susan Kiefel and the Honourable Justice Patrick Keane of the High Court of Australia, the Chief Justice and members of the Federal Court, the Honourable Tim Carmody, Chief Justice of Queensland and members of the Supreme Court of Queensland, judges of the Family Court and of the Federal Circuit Court, Chief Judge Kerry O’Brien and members of the District Court of Queensland, Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo and members of the Queensland Magistrates Court. May I also acknowledge the presence of my parliamentary colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Christian Porter MP, who, as Attorney General of Western Australia, played a significant role in your Honour’s career, the Deans of the University of Queensland and Griffith University Law Schools and representatives of the QUT and Bond University Law Schools.
I particularly want to acknowledge the presence of your Honour’s family, your wife Sarah, your two children Tatiana and Jonah, and your parents Ray and Dinah who proudly share this occasion with you. Your Honour’s appointment to this court signals another step in what has been by any measure a career of extraordinary distinction. All the more remarkable when it is remembered that your Honour has only recently celebrated your 41st birthday. You have shown an Effie Smith-like enthusiasm for the glittering prizes. Indeed, so preposterously golden is your Honour’s CV that when I was reading it I was reminded of Max Beerbohm’s satirical description of the Duke of Dorset in his novel Zuleika Dobson. Your Honour went to school at Scotch College in Perth.
You graduated from the University of Western Australia with the degrees of Bachelor of Economics in 1995 and Bachelor of Laws with first class honours in 1996. You were the recipient of the University’s Frank Parsons prize for the most outstanding graduate of that year. As well, in 1997, you took a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Murdoch University. After law school your Honour’s articled to Blake Dawson Waldron where, among other things, you worked on the Bell litigation. Shortly afterwards, your Honour was selected as associate to the Honourable Justice Toohey of the High Court, whose sad recent passing we should also note today.
You were chosen as the Rhodes Scholar for Western Australia in 1998. You studied at Magdalen College, that nursery of so many distinguished Australian judges. Indeed, as I look around the courtroom this afternoon and I see Justice Keane, Justice Applegarth, Mr Doyle QC, and Mr McKenna QC, this could almost be a gathering of Magdalen College law alumni. You were awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in law in 2001. Your thesis on Gain-Based Damages was later published, winning the Society of Legal Scholars prize in 2003 for the most outstanding new work of legal scholarship of that year.
Your Honour returned to Western Australia in 2001 and was called to the bar in that year commencing practice in the chambers of Malcolm McCusker QC, the leader of the Perth Bar. Your Honour’s skills and advocacy were quickly recognised and you appeared in a number of important trials and appeals, often as Mr McCusker’s junior. Despite your early promise at the Western Australian bar, legal scholarship beckoned you back to the United Kingdom. You were elected a Fellow of Keble College in 2005 and became a university lecturer in law. Your Honour taught restitution, commercial remedies, contract law and Roman law. The latter requiring you to gain a working familiarity with Latin.
Only three years later, at the precocious age of 34, your Honour was appointed Professor of the Law of Obligations at Oxford. I’m told that your Honour would often hold walking tutorials in the Socratic fashion, strolling through the grounds firing questions and discussing legal principles in the open air. Despite the discomfort of the chilly Oxford air, and the feeling of undertaking an oral exam, I’m told that your Honour inspired the enthusiasm of your students and was sought after as both a tutor and a mentor. Twice in 2007 and again in 2010 your Honour was recognised by the award of Oxford’s Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2008 your Honour was called to the English Bar where you undertook your tutelage with Lord Wolfson at 1 Essex Court.
Your former chamber colleagues speak of your approachability, your remarkable energy and enthusiasm for the law, as well as the deep insights you brought to practice from academia. Despite being a pupil, you were often sought after for advice from even the most senior members of chambers. By this time, your Honour had achieved an international reputation, both as a legal scholar and as a barrister. While carrying the load of your fellowship at Keble and your chair at Oxford, your Honour appeared as counsel in many leading cases both in London and at home in Australia.
It is not unprecedented for Australian barristers to develop successful practices in London. It is almost to be expected that a Professor of Law at Oxford will have an international reputation. What is, I think, almost unprecedented is for one person to do both and before they have reached the ripe age of 35. In 2011, Christian Porter, then the Attorney-General of Western Australia, had the foresight to entice you to join the Supreme Court of that state. You were the youngest judge ever appointed to that court. Your colleagues at the Supreme Court speak highly of your prodigious work ethic, your depth of knowledge of the law and the clarity of your judgment writing.
No less missed, I am told, will be your unique dress sense, which can see you around the court, on non-hearing days, I hasten to add, in T-shirt and shorts or bicycle gear. On the subject of your Honour’s athletic prowess, I should add, so as to complete the picture of a rounded man, that your Honour is also a champion lifesaver, having in 1996 been a member of the Australian lifesaving team. Your Honour is the author, co-author or editor of numerous important legal texts, including interest awards in Australia, equity and commercial law, unjust enrichment in Australia, cases and materials on the law of restitution, unjust enrichment in commercial law and torts in commercial law.
It will be obvious from the recitation of those titles that your Honour’s chief focus of interest has been restitution. You studied under the late Peter Birks and in the years since have been a vigorous warrior in that intensely, indeed, savagely contested front of legal scholarship, often called the restitution wars. Not just a warrior but a general, I have heard you described as the ghost of Peter Birks. Your Honour’s judgments have, as might be expected, been favourably commented upon by other courts, including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Indeed, very recently Lord Toulson, writing for the majority, complimented your erudition in Agricultural Land Management v Jackson.
Your time at the Supreme Court has also been marked by the generosity of your contributions to the legal profession and to your students. Your work convening and addressing seminars, editing legal journals and as a member of the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee, have been greatly appreciated by the profession and by those with whom you have served. Since you joined the bench, your Honour has still found time to maintain your engagement with law schools through adjunct professorships at the University of Queensland, University of Western Australia and as a Conjoint Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales. I am told that your wife Sarah is also a very distinguished scholar in her field; international relations.
With a career of such distinction, I can tell you that the Chief Justice’s joy was unbounded when I told him that you had agreed to become a member of this court. Unless a university law school entices you back, you have another 29 years to contribute to the federal judiciary. We look forward to a contribution which will no doubt continue to be as illustrious as that which has marked your exceptional career thus far. Your Honour, congratulations and welcome. May it please the court.
ALLSOP CJ: Mr McConnel.
MR D. McCONNEL: May it please the court. It is a great honour to appear on the occasion of your Honour’s swearing-in as a judge of the Federal Court on behalf of the 60,000 lawyers who practise law across every state and territory of Australia. The Attorney-General has outlined the stellar credentials which your Honour brings to this court. It is daunting to look at the breadth of your Honour’s achievements, made all the more remarkable because of your Honour’s obviously young age. A law degree with first class honours in 1996, associate to Toohey J of the High Court, Rhodes Scholar, Doctor of Philosophy and appointment as professor by the age of 34, along the way completing articles of clerkship with Blake Dawson Waldron, admitted to practice in 1998 and then as the attorney has outlined, being called to the bar both in London and in Perth.
I would like to briefly just touch on some aspects of your Honour’s achievements as scholar and advocate. First, as the Attorney-General has alluded to, your Honour’s academic excellence has been well recognised by the High Court. Since 2007, High Court judges have quoted with approval five different articles and books authored by your Honour. They cover a variety of subjects, including fiduciary duties, trusts, re insurance and torts in commercial law. But arguably excelling those achievements has been your Honour’s own appearances in the High Court, on three occasions in criminal law matters. On all three occasions, the appeals that you were appearing in were upheld.
In two of those matters, your Honour was led by your mentor Malcolm McCusker QC, who went on to become the Governor of Western Australia and incidentally held that office at the time of your appointment as a judge to the Supreme Court of Western Australia. I will briefly touch on those cases. One is the very remarkable case of Andrew Mallard. Mr Mallard was convicted of murder in 1995 and unsuccessfully appealed his conviction, including an unsuccessful application for special leave to the High Court. Eight years later, he sought a pardon from the governor, which was referred to the Court of Criminal Appeal of Western Australia.
The Court of Criminal Appeal ruled against Mr Mallard. Your Honour was part of the pro bono team who successfully appealed to the High Court. The High Court unanimously found that there had been a miscarriage of justice and quashed Mr Mallard’s murder conviction. He was released from prison in 2006 after serving 12 years. I note, your Honour, that one of those who agitated so strongly for review of Mr Mallard’s case, the Honourable John Quigley MP, has made the trip from Perth to be here today. Your Honour again appeared in the High Court with Mr McCusker QC in the 2005 case of Coates v The Queen, another murder case. The appellant was one of two men convicted of murder, in Coates’ case, partly because of an unrecorded admission in a break in a recorded police interview.
A majority of the High Court found that that unrecorded admission should not have been received and that there had been a miscarriage of justice. Coates’ murder conviction was quashed and it was remitted for retrial. In 2008 your Honour appeared as leader in the High Court again, in the case of R v Mahmood. Again a murder conviction, again a finding in the High Court of a miscarriage of justice requiring that conviction to be quashed. This leaves your Honour with a remarkable record of having appeared three times in the High Court with three wins and never, to my knowledge, having been quoted with disapproval. In your three years plus on the Supreme Court of Western Australia, your Honour undertook both trial and appellate work.
You handled an infinite variety of matters ranging from the deeply personal and sensitive case of a widow hoping to conceive after the death of her husband to the dismissing of a challenge to the very controversial program of shark culls, following a spate of attacks by sharks along the south-west coast of Western Australia. In that court, your Honour has also presided over corporate battles featuring some of Australia’s most significant business and political figures, with a good chance, I daresay, that your Honour may again encounter those same figures in this court, in this part of the world. In this court you will also be reunited on the bench with the person who introduced you to your wife Sarah. Justice Nye Perram was at Oxford at the same time as your Honour and thought that a charming young political scientist from Canada would be a good match for his brilliant friend from Western Australia. Thankfully for your Honour this was not one of the many practical jokes that your friends have enjoyed playing on you over the years. Most of those take advantage of your Honour’s singular focus on the law.
There’s no doubt that the scale of achievements credited to your Honour requires such a singular focus, but it is a focus that led, we understand, to at least one interesting moment on the home front. When your wife left you in charge of your children Tatiana and Jonah one Sunday you decided that that would be a good time to work on a judgment. The kids also thought this was a splendid idea. They decided that some redecorating and a new colour scheme was in order. With crayons in hand they went at their work with uninterrupted and unsupervised gusto. It took some convincing for Sarah not to revoke your babysitting credentials when she returned home and found you oblivious to their work. Of course, we shall never know which judgment it was that so consumed your Honour’s attention, nor whether the result was at all influenced by the damage inflicted to your home whilst it was being made.
I also understand that Sarah has had to explain to her father, a cricket and rugby tragic, despite its limited popularity in his native Canada, that she intended to marry one of the few Australians with an interest in neither. That is not to say that your Honour has no time for interests outside the law, including sport. In fact, as the Attorney has alluded, your Honour has been a keen triathlete and swimmer, including winning bronze in the 40 to 44 years category at the 2013 State Masters Championships. And in recent years your Honour has been vice patron of Royal Lifesaving Western Australia and a member of its legal advisory committee. The common thread to these achievements is your undoubted spirit of public service.
It was remarked upon at the occasion of your appointment to the West Australian Supreme Court at the age of only 37. It remains true today. The sacrifices which take many forms, including the forgone opportunities for the collegiality and friendly competitiveness of the bar, the financial rewards that can be expected for the most talented members of the legal profession, and the experience and opportunity that a career in advocacy brings. Those sacrifices are all the more significant for one who accepts the honour of judicial service at a much earlier stage of their career. I mentioned that you were associate to Justice Toohey, who, as your Honour would well know, passed away last week in Perth.
You must have been almost his last associate at the High Court, perhaps the last. If so, your Honour may have been in attendance when the High Court travelled to Perth for a special farewell sitting for Justice Toohey in October 1997. On that occasion your Honour would have heard Justice Toohey’s own reflections on his life in judicial office. He said:
I have led something of a nomadic life since my appointment to the bench. Nearly six years in the Northern Territory, frequent sittings outside the state while a member of the Federal Court and more than 10 years commuting between Perth and Canberra. This has enabled me to see the law in operation at state, territory and national levels. It has made me very conscious of the need for the community to understand and respect the importance of the law for an ordered society. It has made me equally conscious of the need for lawyers, including judges, to aid that understanding and to ensure that respect is earned.
Your Honour has begun something of your own nomadic existence with this appointment in Queensland to a Federal Court which will no doubt see you sit in many locations throughout the nation. Your Honour’s clear commitment to public service and a career on the judiciary leaves me in no doubt that your Honour too will have the opportunity to see the law in operation at all levels, to make a vital contribution to assisting the community to understand the importance of the law, and to earning the community’s respect for the law. On behalf of all the lawyers of the nation, through the Law Council, I congratulate your Honour on this well deserved appointment. May it please the court.
ALLSOP CJ: Mr Doyle.
MR S. DOYLE QC: May it please the court, Justice Edelman. Your Honour, the Australian Bar Association and the Bar Association of Queensland warmly welcomes your appointment as a justice of the Federal Court of Australia. The President of the ABA, Ms Fiona McLeod SC, has asked me to pass on her apologies for not being able to be present and also to pass on her personal congratulations. You bring to the office a well deserved reputation for academic, professional and judicial excellence and you join this court at an exciting stage in the consolidation of its important role as the national court. The Attorney-General and Mr McConnel have already touched briefly on your many achievements, which I will not repeat.
It should not be thought, however, that the bar does not fully recognise with considerable admiration and a measure of astonishment the magnitude of your achievements in your academic career, especially being granted the chair of the law obligations at Oxford, and the quality and volume of the books and articles you’ve published, and in your professional work at the bar before your appointment to the Western Australian Supreme Court. Your Honour’s relative youth is remarked upon and remarkable, not because of the absolute number of years, but because of what has been achieved in those years. On your appointment to the Western Australian Supreme Court Chief Justice Martin mused, in a different context, that you would not be serving very long in that court, and another speaker suggested that other jurisdictions would like to clone you for their appointments. The Attorney-General was not able to arrange the latter, but was able to persuade you to move to the Federal Jurisdiction to fulfil the Chief Justice’s prediction.
The development of the jurisprudence of this country can only benefit from your Honour’s appointment to this national court. Your dedication to and mastery of the law is matched by your willingness to serve the public as a justice first in Western Australia and now in this court. Judicial office brings with it many demands and sacrifices, both for your Honour and your family. Greater financial rewards are available to you off the bench, and it is no small thing that you have chosen the path of service to the public in this office when undoubtedly other paths were open to you, both in this country and overseas. In your new role in this court you have the commitment of the bar’s support. We look forward to engaging with you both in and out of court. I should tell you that the Socratic approach of firing questions at participants, to which the Attorney-General has already referred, is not entirely unknown to us in this state of members of this court. For most of the year, though, you will be met with muted enthusiasm if you suggest doing so outside.
From the bar’s point of view we look forward to working with your Honour in our professional seminars, lectures and workshops. Our Western Australian colleagues have spoken of your generosity and your support of those kinds of professional activities, and we hope that you will participate in ours in this state in the future. We would echo the observations of the Attorney-General that it is a testament to the very high regard in which your Honour is held that so many distinguished members of the judiciary are present here today to welcome you to this court, but also to note that the bar is well represented. There is perhaps an element of the curious in the attendance of many at the bar, but it’s a curiosity because of your Honour’s outstanding achievements so far. Your wife Sarah and children, who are here today, can be rightly proud of you achievements. We congratulate you on your appointment and wish you well in the years ahead on the bench. May it please the court.
ALLSOP CJ: Mr Doyle. Mr Fitzgerald.
MR M. FITZGERALD: May it please the court. When I was asked to speak at your Honour’s swearing in on behalf of the solicitors of Queensland and I noted that your Honour had been an article clerk in the Perth office for the firm I was a partner in for almost 30 years and still consult for today. I thought I would be able to locate at least one of my former Perth partners who could tell me a story or two about your time with the firm. Unfortunately the partners I contacted either said they could not recall your time at the firm or if you were involved in the Bell litigation, there were so many lawyers involved in that matter over its time that they were unable to give me any stories specifically about your involvement in it.
Those who follow the news will note that in recent times Western Australians have been complaining about the Eastern States of Australia stealing the sandgropers’ most choice resources. With Justice Edelman’s appointment to the Federal Court in Brisbane, they may well have a point. As would have become obvious after listening to today’s speakers, your Honour is indeed a choice resource, dare I say treasure, and I can assure West Australians that unlike your share of the GST, Queensland will not be giving you back. Justice Edelman brings a wealth of experience both in the law and on other areas will be of great benefit to the Federal Court and to those who practise in it.
Indeed, I note that your Honour’s resume includes two excellence awards in teaching awards from Oxford, evidence of your ability to explain complex concepts to uncomprehending minds, something which will suit you well on the bench, although you may wish to speak a little more slowly when dealing with my colleagues at the bar. I note that Justice Edelman is currently an adjunct professor at TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland, and last week they announced details of a conference in December, entitled Private Law in the 21st century, at which his Honour is the only keynote speaker from Australia. At risk of offending the Dean of the Law School I once attended, who I understand is in attendance at this ceremony, perhaps if it was not for your Honour’s presence in Brisbane, they would not be hosting the conference.
In all seriousness, law and teaching share at their heart at least one crucial element, communication. The ability to communicate complex legal reasons and decisions is essential to being a competent judge, as it is to being a successful teacher. The fact that your Honour has been both will no doubt prove to be a tremendous asset to the court. Your truly astonishing academic output reveals an apparently unlimited work ethic and capacity and will no doubt increase the rate at which judgments are delivered. I only hope the profession can keep up. At your welcome to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in November 2011, you remarked on an admirable appreciation of the contribution your family made to your life and career and in the case of your wife, Dr Sarah Percy, that may well include seeking her out for direct advice.
I note that your Honour, while a justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, once had to abandon a case after two jurors became involved in a violent altercation and that your wife’s resume notes that she has particular interest in unconventional combatants. Her counsel was no doubt useful in that case. I also note that Dr Percy is an expert in both mercenaries and piracy, meaning that her advice will be invaluable in any cost matters his Honour has to decide. Finally, as Justice Edelman is a newcomer to Queensland, there are some things I would like to tell him. The good news is, and this should please such a keen swimmer as your Honour, swimming being one of the few things that my former partners could tell me about you, that now you are a resident of Brisbane, you are one hour’s drive north or south of the world’s best beaches. The bad news is, you’re a lot closer to New South Wales. On behalf of the solicitors of Queensland, I congratulate you on your appointment. May it please the court.
ALLSOP CJ: Justice Edelman.
EDELMAN J: Mr Attorney, Chief Justice, Justices Keane and Kiefel, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, your Honours, members of the legal profession, distinguished guests, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen. Can I first of all express my sincere thanks to the Attorney, to Mr McConnel, to Mr Doyle and to Mr Fitzgerald for their overly generous words and their very gracious welcome. I thank you all particularly for your attendance this afternoon, especially several close friends of mine and my parents and sister, who have travelled across the Nullarbor for a very short time. I’m also greatly honoured by the attendance of many of my colleagues on the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Until last week, the only time I had been in this amazing city for a fleeting visit was an extremely warm and lively occasion in the Supreme Court in 2012, where I was shown great hospitality by Justices Douglas and Fraser, Professor Barker and Dominic O’Sullivan. My family loved the city and it is a great pleasure to be back here, now permanently. I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we celebrate today and I pay my respects to their elders past and present. A little over a week ago, the traditional custodians of Australian land lost one of their champions, a man whose life was devoted to their advancement.
As we have heard from the Attorney-General and from Mr McConnel, that man was John Toohey, a former Aboriginal Land Commissioner, a judge of this court and of the High Court of Australia. He was my former employer, mentor, confidant and dear friend. At my welcome ceremony at the Supreme Court nearly four years ago, I spoke of John Toohey as well as two other particularly strong influences on my life in the law, Malcolm McCusker and Peter Birks. They are three people whose lives, in different ways, were and are devoted to trying to find beauty in the law. In January this year, Joshua Bell posed as a busker during New York rush hour, playing one of the hardest musical pieces ever written on one of the world’s finest violins. Only one person recognised him and stopped to listen. Hundreds of others walked straight past, some throwing pennies into his violin case. The law is like that. I think there is often a real inner beauty in what might just seem to be noise. Those that create and find that beauty enrich the lives of us as lawyers and as judges when we stop to read and listen.
But perhaps the most important part of the mosaic of the law, which I had not really appreciated until I saw things from the other side of the bar table, is the fundamental nature of natural justice to all participants in the process, including its basic requirement of dignity. That basic aspect of the judicial process was exemplified by John Toohey, but I was also fortunate to sit with several colleagues on the Supreme Court, to whose judicial demeanour I aspire and to a demeanour which enhances that aspect of justice which should really be natural.
I have also been very fortunate to have been surrounded by law and a kaleidoscope of opinion since a very young age. My close family are almost all lawyers and they come from a broad mix of religious traditions with a diverse range of opinions. Probably my first memory of legal argument was at the age of 12, when two of the lawyers in my family were engaged in a vociferous dispute with my mother, who is not a lawyer, as the lawyers attempted without success, to define the word estoppel. The debate was particularly protracted because it occurred in the context where the word estoppel had been formed on a triple word score. The members of my family here this afternoon range in ages from five to 87, although neither person whose ages I have just mentioned will thank me for that remark.
My mother and father who are here today raised me with almost unimaginable kindness, support and generosity together, when I was very young, with my late grandmother. When I was in primary school, my grandmother used to catch four buses a day to work as a volunteer with the disabled in our suburb, before collecting me from primary school to walk me home. I am very proud to have here this afternoon my parents, one of my two adored sisters and several close friends, all of whom have flown in from Perth for a fleeting visit. Although my close family and some dear friends will be on the other side of Australia, I have a strong expectation that my experience as a judge in Brisbane will be of the spirit and application of law as a collective enterprise with the respect both genuine and forensic, that has been the great ornament of English common law.
I took vacation leave very recently from the Supreme Court of Western Australia to attend a conference of the Federal Court judges and registrars. I could not have imagined a group of more different people, but nor could I have foreseen the intellectual exchange in such a collegial, congenial and genuinely warm environment. Beyond the court and the law, the greatest thrill for me is undertaking this new adventure with my wife Sarah and my two young children, Tatiana and Jonah, who sit here today with their brand new books during my speech. They are here this afternoon and they will make the permanent move to Brisbane later in the year.
Although this move to Brisbane is a step into the unknown for them, it is their sense of adventure that lies at the heart of this move. They are the centre of my universe and the light of my life and I thank you all in attendance here today for honouring me with my family here. Thank you.
ALLSOP CJ: The court will now adjourn.