Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court

For the Welcome of the Honourable Justice Steward

Transcript of proceedings

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THE ASSOCIATE: Presentation of commission swearing in the Honourable Justice Steward.

STEWARD J: Chief Justice, I have the honour to announce that I have received a commission from His Excellency, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, appointing me a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I now present my commission.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Justice Steward. Registrar, please read the commission aloud.

DISTRICT REGISTRAR: Commission of appointment of a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I General, The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC 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(1) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976, appoint Simon Harry Peter Steward QC, 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 2018 until he attains the age of 70 years. Signed and sealed with the Great Seal of Australia on 30 November 2017, Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General, by his Excellency's command, George Brandis QC, Attorney-General.

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

STEWARD J: I, Simon Harry Peter Steward, 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 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: I now invite you, Justice Steward, to subscribe to the oath you've just taken. Registrar, could you please take the commission and the oath and enter them in the records of the court. Justice Steward.

STEWARD J: Thank you, Chief Justice.

ALLSOP CJ: Justice Steward, on behalf of all the Judges of the Court around Australia, you have their and the Court's warmest welcome, my warmest welcome and our wishes for a long, successful and happy career in this Court.

STEWARD J: Thank you.

ALLSOP CJ: Senator, The Honourable George Brandis QC, Senator for Queensland representing the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth, and the former Attorney-General of the country, to address the Court.

SENATOR, THE HON G. BRANDIS QC (SQ): May it please the Court. May I begin by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional custodians of the Melbourne area, and pay my respects to all of Australia's indigenous peoples. I am delighted that the new Attorney-General, The Honourable Christian Porter, was unable to be here today, but sends his good wishes, and was good enough to invite me to represent him on this occasion. He has asked me to convey the Government's sincere thanks for your Honour's willingness to serve as a Judicial Officer, to pass on his best wishes for what he trusts will be a long and illustrious career on the bench.

Your Honour's appointment to this Court is another significant achievement in an already distinguished career. It's a reflection of the high regard in which you are held that so many members of the Judiciary and of the Legal Profession are gathered in court today. Might I particularly acknowledge the distinguished presence of two members of the High Court of Australia, The Honourable Justice Nettle and the Honourable Justice Gordon, as well as a former member of the High Court, The Honourable Susan Crennan. As well, they're joined by the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court, The Honourable William Alstergren, Judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria and of other Courts, and former members of the Judiciary, including several retired members of this Court.

Might I also acknowledge the many members of the Legal Profession, led by Dr Collins QC, the President of the Victorian Bar, and Ms Wilson, President of the Law Institute of Victoria. And, of course, I acknowledge the presence of your Honour's family who proudly share this occasion with you; your wife Anne, your son James and your daughter Imogen, your father Edwin, your mother Patricia. Your three brothers, Jeremy, Christopher and Mark, are also in Court this morning.

Your Honour's career has been one of precocious achievement, and when I say "precocious", I am told that from your earliest childhood that was a characteristic that defined you. You are the youngest of four, of four boys. When your brothers began attending school and you were the only child left at home, I am told that you insisted on beginning kindergarten, having little regard to the fact that you were one year short of the age of admission. Your Honour continued your schooling with ease, while remaining one year younger than your peers, graduating from the illustrious school, Xavier College.

Influenced by your mother, your Honour developed a keen interest in fine art and history at an early age. I'm told that the oil portraits that you drew of each of the members of your family are remarkable and remain displayed at the family home. I am also told – the research of the Attorney-General's Department – your Honour is very, very industrious. I am also told that it is a family legend that when you were about 12 on a visit to the city with your father you looked up at the large towering Supreme Court of Victoria, then also the High Court building, and exclaimed, "This is where I want to be." It may be a different building today, but here you are.

Following school, your Honour commenced a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Melbourne while you continued to develop your interest in fine art. It was during a fine art course that you met your wife, Anne. You commenced your career at the firm then known as Mallesons Stephen Jacques and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1992. You quickly progressed through the ranks at Mallesons, being made a Senior Associate in 1995. It was during this time that you developed the formidable reputation for your diligence, hard work and commitment to your practice. It was also, I'm told, at that time that you acquired the nickname "your Honour". I'm reminded of the anecdote told of Sir Samuel Griffith who, when still a schoolboy, earned the nickname, "The Right Honourable Sir Samuel Griffith", but, your Honour, it is a nickname no longer.

You completed your Master of Laws at the University of Melbourne in 2000. Your thesis was on the Constitutional Limitation of Taxation Powers. You were called to the Bar in 1999, where you quickly became involved in many leading tax cases, including Stone's case, Linter Textiles and McNeil. It was through this work that you mastered an expertise in taxation law, your specialist field, and steadily gained a reputation for your pre-eminence in that field.

When your Honour took Silk in 2009, only 10 years out, you were the first person of your graduating class to do so. Described as the "earliest riser" at Aickin Chambers, your Honour has had a successful career at the Bar. You have taken on complex matters and appeared as Counsel for both the Commissioner and for the taxpayer. That experience equipped you with the ability to understand tax disputes from both perspectives. Your expertise in tax law led you to the position of President of the Tax Bar Association between 2013 and 2014.

Your colleagues describe you as a man of discipline and routine with a schedule that is rarely interrupted except by the delivery of antique furniture from a Melbourne auction house. Your chambers, I know, are liberally furnished with antiques, works and objects of art of the finest taste. Your Honour is known for your strong sense of integrity and duty of service to the legal profession.

As a lawyer, you were respected for your natural flair for advocacy, for your formidable intellect, for your natural courtesy, and for your complete mastery of your specialist field. A great asset to the Court. Your Honour is an excellent communicator, gifted with a clarity of thought and expression that enables you to express complex concepts in a simple and concise manner.

You are also admired for your generous spirit and willingness to give of your time to colleagues who sought your guidance, regardless of how busy you might be and, in doing so, had been an exemplar of the finest traditions of the Bar. Your generosity with your time has also extended to contributions to the development of training of future practitioners including through your commitment to lecturing on tax litigation at the University of Melbourne, which you have done since 2009. Of course, your Honour's great achievement does not lie in your stellar professional career, but in your family, your wife Anne and your son James and daughter Imogen.

Your Honour has been described to be a man with a healthy interest in Britain; something we share. In particular, I'm told you are a Winston Churchill aficionado in whose honour you, I am told, smoke a cigar at the end of each annual floor Christmas party. An avid reader, your Honour's knowledge of history is truly – said to be truly encyclopaedic. I'm told that you have a particular gift for impersonations. Indeed, I've witnessed it. I won't embarrass your Honour by saying which particular former member of the High Court that impressed me as voiced by your Honour on a relatively recent and memorable occasion. But your Honour does perform impersonation of luminaries of the Bar and Bench which have become famous. Now, your Honour, tax practitioners are not usually renowned for their thespian skills, but your Honour is obviously an exception.

Your Honour's appointment to this Court is a testament to your many years of hard work and unwavering dedication to the law. It is also a tribute to the mastery of your – of a complex and specialist field of the law. I have no doubt that you will serve as a Judge of this Court with the dedication, diligence and integrity for which you are so admired. Your sound judgment, professionalism, very strong work ethic make you an outstanding addition to this Court. So on behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people, I extend my serious congratulations and wish you a long and fulfilling judicial career. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Dr Collins.

DR M. COLLINS QC: May it please the Court, I appear on behalf of the Victorian Bar, the Australian Bar Association and the Law Council of Australia to congratulate your Honour on your appointment to this Court. Could I, too, acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation and pay my respects to their elders, past and present. Your Honour's appointment to this Court comes after distinguished service at the Bar and is one much celebrated by your colleagues.

Although your Honour completed your secondary education at Xavier College, you hold a great deal of sentiment affection for your primary school Sacred Heart in Kew. As we have heard, you've completed a Bachelor of Laws Degree at the University of Melbourne with first class honours. Your Honour won a number of exhibitions, including the exhibitions in each of your art subjects, philosophy and history. You began your life as a practitioner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, now King & Wood Mallesons, but one of your law subject exhibitions was in intellectual property law, and your initial assignment at Mallesons was to the IP group.

However, the sort of intellectual property work to which as a newly admitted solicitor in a very large firm your Honour was exposed did not fire the imagination. In contrast, you found taxation work fascinating, involving serious research and answering difficult questions. Moreover, the litigation group let the taxation group at Mallesons run its own litigation, right up to the High Court, which meant you were able to brief and instruct leading counsel like the late Brian Shaw QC and the late Neil Forsyth QC. Your Honour gravitated in that direction, a decision that came to alter and define the course of your career.

Soon after joining the tax group, your Honour had an unusual experience. In 1993, Mallesons was raided by the Australian Federal Police as part of an investigation into one of your clients. As a junior practitioner, you were, naturally, called in at 4 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday as all the relevant files and others which were not so relevant were pulled. The head of the tax group at the time was Michael Clough, who is in Court today. As the constabulary went about its business, Clough took everyone's order for a run to what was, at least, in the wee small hours of the morning at the non-Paris end of Collins Street in the early 1990s, all that was on offer, McDonald's. History does not record what Michael Clough returned with, but if it was a Big Mac, I assume he held the pickles. A client being raided by the Feds was more than enough of a pickle at 4 o'clock on a Saturday morning.

Speaking of history, Mallesons was, at the time your Honour joined the firm, an exceptional place in which to be trained in the practice of the law. Your Honour forms part of an esteemed group of alumni who were practicing at the firm at the time, including Justice Kyrou of the Victorian Court of Appeal and Justices Hollingworth and Cameron of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Rather less auspiciously, I met your Honour upon joining the firm myself in 1993 when your Honour was a second-year solicitor. I have valued your Honour's friendship and wise counsel in the quarter-century that has passed since then, both at Mallesons and at the Victorian Bar.

Your Honour had always intended to go to the Bar and would have done so earlier, had you not become engaged to Anne in 1992. You purchased a home in Kew, a small Victorian cottage near MLC and the resultant mortgage temporarily delayed your plans. In due course, however, the time came and in 1998, you embarked on your career as an advocate reading with Peter Cawthorn, now QC. As so many young barristers do – although, in your Honour's case, I confess to finding it somewhat surprising – you started with matters in the Magistrates Court while building a practice. Tax was, however, always your Honour's preferred area. It is your belief and it is true beyond argument that tax disputes can take in all manner of other areas of the law: property, commercial, family, estates, equity. Indeed, just about any area can have tax implications. For that reason, your Honour finds fascination in an area that others may, on the surface, assume to be dry.

Your Honour appeared in a number of notable cases which put the lie to that assumption. In one case, you acted in the High Court with the then Commonwealth Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler SC, now Justice Gageler of the High Court. You represented the might of the Commonwealth against a Victorian student teacher in a claim over the princely sum of $920 as an allowable deduction for expenses of self-education. The student teacher had been represented by her father before Justice Ryan, who is in Court today, where she won. She won again, representing herself before Justices Finn, Sundberg and Edmonds. You had not been briefed in any of the earlier hearings. The Commissioner of Taxation appealed to the High Court, briefing the Solicitor-General and your Honour as silks, with your former reader Lisa Hespe as junior. Despite that heft at the Bar table in the finest Australian tradition, the student teacher emerged triumphant again. The matter sounds almost fit for a cinematic makeover in the style of The Castle.

Other significant cases in which your Honour appeared after taking silk include AusNet Transmission Group v the Federal Commissioner of Taxation in the High Court and Chevron Australia Holdings Proprietary Limited v Commissioner of Taxation in both the Federal Court and the Full Federal Court. In the latter case, your Honour led Lisa Hespe and appeared as silk with the very senior city silk David Bloom. In 2006, before you took silk, you were junior to Alan Archibald QC and Michelle Gordon, now Justice Gordon of the High Court and in Court today, in the landmark Citylink matter. Preparation for the case took up your summer holidays which you were spending at Foster in South Gippsland. You sent drafts from the local post office. Justice Gordon well recalls the matter. She says:

I remember his dedication when, on very short notice, we both had largely to abandon our summer holidays to prepare for the Citylink case in the High Court. Whilst his wife and children were on the beach, he stayed behind in a rented holiday house sending draft after draft of the submissions to me for Citylink.

Your Honour has described Justice Gordon as a great influence on you, both as a lawyer and as a person. For her Honour's part, she says that before she became a Judge, you worked on many cases together and that back then, you were the junior of choice. Another of your influences is his Honour Justice Tony Pagone of this Court.

You describe his Honour as one of the most remarkable advocates you have seen, capable of cross-examining people with little or no preparation. I might interpolate with my other hats on that this is a skill that might be marvelled at at the hands of masters like Justice Pagone. It is not one that we recommend to young players either at the Bar Counsel or on the Readers' Course Committee, but you and Justice Pagone now find yourselves again as peers.

There are some consistent threads running through the accolades your Honour has received from your friends and colleagues on your appointment. The first is a differential acknowledgement of your intellect and your capacity as a lawyer. Your friend, Chief Judge Alstergren, Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court, who is in Court today, for example, says your abilities, particularly in tax matters, will add significantly to the capabilities of this Court. Another theme is your broad range of interests outside the professional sphere, a matter to which I will return. I have heard your Honour described as a polymath. Now, there is a word that one does not hear terribly often. I assume your Honour will be able to guess from whence it came.

Alongside these qualities are your personality, wit and desirability as a dinner companion. Finally, it is clear that the respect among your Honour's friends and colleagues extends beyond standard professional courtesy, indeed, beyond respect for professional capacity; it extends to the realm of deep loyalty, particularly among those in your circle. Senator Brandis has pointed our your Honour's love of all things British is well-known, as exemplified by your encyclopaedic knowledge of the life of Winston Churchill, although I am told it is apocryphal that the desk in your chambers was a reproduction of the great man's desk at Chartwell. Churchill once famously said of Clement Attlee that he was a modest man with much to be modest about. He said an empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door was open, Attlee got out.

Churchill was, though, in fact, quite fond of Attlee. They had a friendly and respectful relationship. I recount the story because, like politicians, lawyers and barristers in particular are at the same time colleagues and competitors. In an era when Prime Ministers, Premiers and Opposition Leaders no longer duck behind the Speaker's chair for an amicable exchange, your Honour is highly and affectionately regarded in the finest traditions of our Bar by those to whom you have been opposed as well as those with whom you have worked.

It is certainly the case among those with whom you have shared various floors during your time at the Bar. Your friend and colleague, Stuart Wood QC, who joins us at the Bar table, describes your Honour as shy but worldly, a great reader of people, and a complex character capable of expounding on ancient Greek philosophers and modern movie stars alike. Justice Gordon describes you as highly intelligent and smart, noting that there is a difference, as well as kind, generous and loyal. Both say that institutions matter to you and that you are motivated by duty and service.

You yourself have said that if Barristers are lucky enough to be successful, there is a duty to give back. And in your time at the Victorian Bar, you acted as chair of the Tax Bar Association and were instrumental in organising an inaugural specialist tax stream for the Australian Bar Association's conference. In those capacities, you were a powerful advocate for the profession. You take meticulously planned holidays often based around where one might view history's great works of art. These interests also extend to fashion and literature. One close friend, to remain nameless, says your Honour has such an interest in fashion that at times it almost descends into costume.

And the research skills of the Attorney-General's Department are matched by those of the Victorian Bar, which has also learnt of your Honour's impressive talent for mimicry. Your colleagues and dinner companions are left trembling either with mirth or fear, depending on whether they are the targets for your impersonations. Both Chief Judge Alstergren and Stuart Wood say they may have fallen into each of those categories, no doubt along with many others in Court today. Your Honour has said of Churchill that you love his courage, and that he expressed the courage for which he is best known not with fists or a sword, but with language. Courage through language is the business of the fearless advocate, just as it is of the Judge charged with making important decisions affecting the lives of real people. Justice Gordon says of you:

He will be a great Judge. I am honoured to have him as a friend.

I echo those sentiments. On behalf of the Victorian Bar, the Australian Bar Association and the Law Council of Australia, may I wish your Honour joy in your appointment and long, satisfying and distinguished service as a Judge of this Court. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Collins. Ms Wilson.

MS WILSON: 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, Simon Steward, as a Judge of this Court. My learned friends are always hard acts to follow, so I will take your Honour's lead as a barrister and hopefully keep it tight and simple and not complicate or repeat matters. Some of the detail presented today was etched almost three decades ago when your Honour joined Mallesons Stephen Jacques, now King & Wood Mallesons, in December 1988 on its summer clerk program.

Catherine Willis, who had met your Honour at law school, was part of that clerks' intake and later did articles with you in 1991 before being admitted to practice and continuing as solicitors of that firm. Work as baby lawyers was intense rather than inspiring in those early years. Long, late hours, photocopying, sorting affidavits and exhibits and other mundane tasks. The grind was alleviated somewhat by increasingly competitive office pranks, in which your Honour excelled. Some examples will suffice. Meticulously swapping keys on a colleague's keyboard, arranging and sending a prospectus for an unusual investment opportunity to a workmate, and then encouraging the unexpecting target to enrol another, and thirdly, convincing a colleague they owed the firm hundreds of dollars for the recent introduction of the internet.

Payback was inevitable and sweet. Donna from the University of Melbourne once phoned to advise your Honour that the law faculty had just discovered that you had not fully completed your law degree. Pluck was also on show. It appeared, for instance, in strongly worded written submissions to Senior Partners in the HR department with suggestions for improvements to working conditions for junior staff. One long and colourfully worded memo to the Head of the firm's taxation revenue and superannuation practice group detailed the shocking state of disrepair of its temporary offices, itemising issues down to the balls of toilet paper used to plug holes in walls. It was hilarious reading and also rather audacious for a Junior Solicitor to send a Senior Partner, but it foreshadowed the brilliant barrister to come in its creative advocacy, focus on detail, and convincing narrative.

Now an ATO Assistant Commissioner Review and Dispute Resolution, Ms Willis briefed your Honour soon after she joined that office in her first big win – well, big and winning case and observed you as a client, not as a colleague. She has since repeatedly witnessed first-hand your Honour's consummate grasp of complex tax laws crammed with volumes of intricate scientific and factual concepts, an ability to present them coherently, logically for a Court to understand.

Exhibiting innovation outside the metaphorical box, your Honour would often suggest fresh arguments and challenges, or challenge clients with counterarguments, even those who initially perhaps resisted them, and in doing so was frank and fearless as independent counsel must be. Some wedded to long and strongly-held views didn't always appreciate hearing that they may be wrong.

Your Honour could also be forthright with executives and senior officials and accepted that such views wouldn't be terribly popular with those paying your fees. Ms Willis speaks with force that your Honour has sought always to uphold the highest standards in your legal practice, a quality bolted to lifelong commitment to the integrity of the justice system. Another leading tax lawyer who witnessed your Honour's start in the law, the aforementioned Michael Clough, partner at King & Wood Mallesons, recalls a young man who impressed with extensive knowledge, clarity of expression and forthright views. Alongside Mr Clough and absorbing his expertise, your Honour spent eight years in the firm's tax group developing, in his words, "an enviable reputation as a solicitor of considerable legal ability with a ferocious appetite for work".

And not only did your Honour play the part, you also perfected it, with a preference for pinstriped suits of all colours and a pocket square for every occasion. Yet, if it is true that the item of clothing people first look at is footwear, then any initial glance at your Honour would have met a pair of McCloud shoes, and in a sure sign of astute frugality it's believed that your Honour would recommend them because their Queen Street store sold "good quality English shoes that one could re-sole twice before discarding".

It is also said that your Honour has a dry sense of humour, but one whose timing is known to be occasionally questionable. That proviso was evidenced on a US business trip with your Honour's supervising partner when stopped by highway police for a traffic infringement. Just as the patrolman was deciding whether or not to take action, your Honour shouted from the passenger seat that the partner was a complete road menace and should have the book thrown at him. Unsurprisingly, the cop neither understood nor appreciated the Aussie humour.

At Mallesons, as we've heard, your Honour worked on some of Australia's largest and most significant tax cases, but amidst the pressure and responsibility you also trained junior solicitors and mentored and nurtured them, many who have made successful careers and who includes some who are present this morning. Michael Perez mirrors the observation of his fellow partner, Mr Clough, that as a solicitor your Honour readily delegated work and shared responsibilities with others. As a barrister, he recalled your Honour was inclusive with a philosophy that the best work was done when everyone was involved.

It surprised, for a trial, that your Honour would provide the team to vet a copy of the notes you called your script that you would speak to when on your feet. Mr Perez said that this reflected your Honour's transparency, inclusive nature and the open way that you always operated with and respected instructing solicitors. The last case together also epitomised your Honour's strategic thinking and approach to matters, "keep it tight, simple and uncomplicated," as I had hoped this speech would be.

You had opposing views on the best approach. Your Honour argued that the facts were too complex and, if relied on, they would not help the Judge, so each egg was put in the basket of law and your Honour's judgment proved spot on. In one sense, you're an immense loss to the profession and in another this appointment was an inevitable outcome. Your agreeing to serve the Australian community should be congratulated, given the role that can be a difficult and thankless one at times, and we look forward to the enormous contribution your Honour will make to this Bench. May it please the Court.

ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Ms Wilson. Justice Steward.

STEWARD J: Chief Justice Allsop, Justice Nettle, Justice Gordon, The Honourable Susan Crennan AC, QC, Senator Brandis QC, Judges, former Judges, the Solicitor-General for the Commonwealth of Australia, the Solicitor-General for the State of Victoria, your Honour's distinguished guests, colleagues, friends and family, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming today. And thank you Senator Brandis, Dr Collins and Ms Wilson for your kind and generous words. It is a great privilege to have been appointed to the Federal Court of Australia and it's now my duty to serve the Court, the profession and the Australian community as one of its Judges.

During my life, I have been blessed with wonderful mentors who have taught me how one should live, how one should practice and, in more recent years, how one should lead. I am only the product of their kindness, wisdom and example.

I commence with my immediate family who are present in court. They comprise my wonderful, beautiful and intelligent wife, Anne, to whom I have been married for almost 25 years, and my incredible children, James and Imogen. Anne and I are very proud of them. I thank them for all their love and support.

My parents, Edwin and Patricia, are also in Court. My father was a solicitor admitted to practice in this state in the 1950s when the profession was very different to the state at which it presently finds itself. They both gave me a fine education and set a compelling example of how one should live. I well remember the summer of 1985/6 after I left school when my father gave me his own personal copy of Glanville Williams' Learning the Law which I read from cover to cover and, if you can believe it, with considerable excitement. I thank them both.

I'm also grateful that my three brothers are also here in Court, Mark Steward, Jeremy Steward and Dr Christopher Steward. I'm especially thankful that my brother Mark travelled all the way from England to be here. He is also a lawyer and he's currently the UK's top "stock market cop" or, more accurately, he is the Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority which is the UK equivalent of our ASIC. Senator Brandis, until your very recent appointment, he was, in my view, the most important Australian official in London. I thank all my brothers. I also thank my mother-in-law Mrs Joan Seal, my brothers-in-law, my sister-in-law, their respective partners and their children for being in Court today.

Now, as some of you may have realised by now, I practiced in revenue law at the Bar and it may be hard to conceive of it, but at Melbourne University I did not dream of becoming a tax lawyer with all the natural excitement that that phrase conjures up. As Dr Collins has adverted to, it was whilst I was rotating as an article clerk at Mallesons that I was required – I did not volunteer – to spend time in its tax group. There, I met a group of very great legal scholars, including Michael Clough and David Wood whom I am pleased are here in Court. By their dedication to professional excellence, I came to realise that tax lawyers had the best and most intellectually challenging of practices. They converted me. I thank them for that.

I then came to the Bar where providence once again supplied me with a series of splendid mentors from whom I could learn so very much. This commenced with my pupil master Mr Peter Cawthorn QC who I thank for being here in Court, and then a series of silks who led me in many tax cases. They included the late Brian Shaw, as already mentioned, John de Wijn QC, Gregory Davies QC and Justices Pagone and Davies. In particular, I mention D.H. Bloom QC of both the Sydney and Melbourne Bars who is here today. Mr Bloom straddles the world of Sir Garfield Barwick and Chief Justice Kiefel. As a result of his kindness, I learnt many remarkable things.

Particular mention should also be made of Justice Gordon. I had the great fortune to have been led by her Honour in many difficult cases in the years leading up to her Honour's appointment to this Court. She was a magnificent mentor when we were both at the Bar and her Honour's example led me to form a belief that all lawyers upon their admission are impressed with an inchoate liability to do service, which crystallises at some point and then, in some way, must be discharged.

Upon taking silk, providence backed me yet again with a series of juniors who, by their talent, hard work and perseverance enabled me to win even the odd case. Each, in their own way, taught me many things and I am grateful to them all. In particular, I mention my former reader Ms Lisa Hespe who is now also an Acting Senior Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

I was also blessed at the Bar with the support of a great many personal assistants. From the first, Ms Indiana Bridges, to my last, Ms Marina Antonellis, and, until recently, Ms Clair Giddy. I thank them all.

Friendship and collegiality are essential attributes of the life of a barrister. In my chambers, I had the good fortune of finding many wonderful friends. These include S.J. Wood QC, who has done so much for our Bar, the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, Acting Chief Justice of the Family Court, Justice Alstergren, Magistrate Greg Robinson, D.J. Batt QC and many others. I also wish to mention my very old friends Mr Peter Larsen, Mr Romauld Andrew and Mr Matthew Harvey, all of whom are lawyers and are here today, with Mr Andrew and Mr Harvey being members of our Bar.

At the time of federation, the existence of Federal Courts, including the High Court, was not a foregone conclusion. Most members of the first parliament sitting in Melbourne and public opinion thought that existing State Courts and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council could easily exercise federal jurisdiction, at least for the time being. After all, they said, it was much cheaper. It took a member of the Victorian Bar to change that view. For it was Alfred Deakin as first Attorney-General who fought for a Federal Court. Deakin spoke in the House of Representatives for three and a-half hours arguing that, and I quote; "a new Court, strictly Australian and national, created for Australian and national purposes", was essential for the new nation. How right he was.

Incidentally, it was Deakin, during his third term as Prime Minister, who appointed the first High Commissioner to London. He appointed a member of the Sydney Bar, Sir George Reid KC who was also the fourth Prime Minister of Australia. We thank Alfred Deakin for that as well.

I would finally like to thank the Chief Justice and the Judges and staff of the Court, in particular, my executive assistant Ms Jessica Aldridge, for the immensely kind and generous way in which they have welcomed me here. I thank them very much for their wonderful support.

John Adams, that independently minded, cantankerous lawyer, founder and then second President of the United States, once wrote:

How could I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading?

In the years ahead, it will be my duty to read with all the strength that God can give me. Thank you all for your attendance.

ALLSOP CJ: Court will now adjourn.