Justice Jacqueline Gleeson and Justice Simon Steward have been appointed as new additions to the High Court of Australia, following the retirement of two current justices.
The appointments were announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Justice Gleeson will take on the role from March 2021, replacing Justice Virginia Bell, while Justice Steward will replace justice Geoffrey Nettle in December 2020. Both retiring judges are approaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
The appointment of both a man and woman will see the existing gender representation on the High Court retained, with three women, and four men. There are currently no people of colour serving as justices on the High Court.
Justice Gleeson will become the sixth woman to ever serve on the High Court, and is the daughter of former High Court Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, who retired in 2008.
Justice Gleeson holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws and Masters of Laws from the University of Sydney, and began practicing at the New South Wales Bar in 1991. She has practiced as a solicitor with the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Government Solicitor. She was appointed as a judge of the Federal Court in 2014.
Justice Steward has a relatively low profile, and is an expert in tax law.
“Both have absolutely impeccable records and skills for the High Court,” Christian Porter said on Wednesday.
In regards to Justice Gleeson, Porter said her diverse legal career will be an asset to the High Court.
“She is held in obvious and very high regard by all members of the judiciary and the legal profession. She was appointed to the Federal Court following a diverse legal career both at the Bar and as a solicitor,” he said.
“In fact, the diversity of Justice Gleeson’s across a number of civil jurisdictions in both public and private practice has served the Federal Court incredibly well and she will no doubt be a major asset to the High Court going forward.
“Her appointment to the High Court represents another significant achievement in an already distinguished career.”
“It is not really possible to appoint Justice Jacqueline Gleeson without noting she is the eldest daughter of Murray Gleeson; that places her in a rather unique position,” he said. “I am told that is a first in common law countries.”
From March 2021, the High Court bench will be made up of Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, Justice Patrick Keane, Justice Stephen Gageler, Justice Michelle Gordon, Justice James Edelman, as well as Justice Jacqueline Gleeson and Justice Simon Steward.
Chief Justice Susan Kiefel is the first woman to serve as chief justice of the High Court.