Australian judge apologises after claiming that colleagues are appointed regardless of merit

Australian judge apologises after claiming that colleagues are appointed regardless of merit. By Nino Bocco Justice.

A federal and family court justice who planned to deliver a speech at an international conference claiming that progressive governments appointed diverse judges regardless of merit has been forced to apologise to his colleagues and told he can no longer attend the conference.

The speech by Justice Joshua Wilson had been uploaded on the court’s website before Justice William Alstergren, the chief justice of the family court and chief judge of the federal circuit court, was alerted to its contents and ordered that it be removed this week.

The speech was dated 17 April, and Wilson planned to deliver it in September at the International Association of Judges annual general meeting in Taiwan.

“Is it correct to say that the brightest and the best are appointed to judicial office, independent of political persuasion? The answer is in the negative in the case of the overwhelming majority of appointments,” Wilson, a division one judge, wrote in the speech.

“It sometimes occurs that a government appoints a person to judicial office who is aligned with the opposite party’s politics. That is a rarity.

“Occasionally, an attorney-general appoints a person as a judge who is wholly apolitical. Again, that is a rarity. Appointment to judicial office is a political activity.”

Wilson went on to say that appointments to state and territory courts were highly political, and that “progressive governments are more likely to appoint to benches based on gender and ethnic diversity, irrespective of merit or expertise”. …

Wilson said that between 1975, when the family court was created, and 2021, when the federal and family courts were overhauled, they had been filled with people of “generally less than ideal” experience, until former attorney general Christian Porter replaced those who had retired with more experienced barristers, including counsel, “exponentially increasing its productivity”.

Can’t say the obvious, or people might find out.