Rethink needed as new High Court Justice appointment seems to maintain gender imbalance

Justice Susan Crennan announced her early retirement from the High Court of Australia on November 25th, 2014, effective February 3, 2015. On Thursday December 4th, the Victorian Court of Appeal’s Justice Geoffrey Nettle was appointed as her replacement. Praised for his intellect and fairness, he appears to be an excellent choice. As Fiona McLeod, SC, who was pregnant with her first child for part of the time that she worked as Justice Nettle’s junior in his barrister years observed, “He was generous with his time and incredibly supportive…He will have been at the top of many people’s lists and recommendations for some time. He is an outstanding jurist.”

But, as capable and excellent choice as he may be, Professor Kim Rubenstein, Chief Investigator for the Trailblazing Women and the Law project, is deeply concerned that a woman was not selected to replace a woman. ‘Our century-old experience of judicial selection has shown that when male politicians gaze at the available gene pool of potential High Court appointees, they see only reflections of themselves and what they understand as depictions of merit.’ Read more.