List of Justices of the High Court of Australia
The following table contains the details of the 48 men and five women who have ever been appointed as Justices of the High Court of Australia. The High Court of Australia was formed in 1903 under the Judiciary Act 1903, and under Section 71 of the Australian Constitution the judicial power of the Commonwealth of Australia is vested in the Court. Since the passing of the Australia Act 1986, the court has been the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy.
In a May 2017 speech, Justice Virginia Bell observed that "few Australians outside the law schools are likely to be able to name the Chief Justice, let alone the puisne Justices of the High Court".
The court is currently composed of seven judges: six Justices and the Chief Justice of Australia.
Appointments were for life until 1977, when a mandatory retirement age of 70 was established, though several post-1977 Justices have retired before reaching the age of 70 (William Deane resigned as a Justice to be appointed Governor-General).
List of JusticesEdit
The current judges are listed in bold on the table below.
|Days in office||PM at app't||Prior judicial
|1||Sir Samuel Griffith||Qld||1845–1920||Chief Justice||5 October 1903||17 October 1919||5,856||Deakin||Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of Qld
|2||Sir Edmund Barton||NSW||1849–1920||Justice||5 October 1903||7 January 1920||5,938||Deakin||None||Former Prime Minister|
Died in office
|3||Richard O'Connor||NSW||1851–1912||Justice||5 October 1903||18 November 1912||3,332||Deakin||None||Died in office|
|4||Sir Isaac Isaacs||Vic||1855–1948||Justice||12 October 1906||21 January 1931||8,867 [a]||Deakin||None||Resigned to be appointed Governor-General|
|Chief Justice||2 April 1930||21 January 1931||294||Scullin|
|5||H. B. Higgins||Vic||1851–1929||Justice||13 October 1906||13 January 1929||8,128||Deakin||None||Died in office|
|6||Sir Frank Gavan Duffy||Vic||1852–1936||Justice||11 February 1913||1 October 1935||8,267 [a]||Fisher||None|
|Chief Justice||22 January 1931||1 October 1935||1,713||Scullin|
|7||Sir Charles Powers||Qld||1853–1939||Justice||5 March 1913||22 July 1929||5,983||Fisher||None|
|8*||Albert Piddington||NSW||1862–1945||Justice||6 March 1913||5 April 1913||30 [b]||Fisher||None||Resigned before sitting|
|9||Sir George Rich||NSW||1863–1956||Justice||5 April 1913||5 May 1950||13,544||Fisher||Sup Ct of NSW|
|10||Sir Adrian Knox||NSW||1863–1932||Chief Justice||18 October 1919||31 March 1930||3,817||Hughes||None|
|11||Sir Hayden Starke||Vic||1871–1958||Justice||5 February 1920||31 January 1950||10,953||Hughes||None|
|12||Sir Owen Dixon||Vic||1886–1972||Justice||4 February 1929||13 April 1964||12852 [a]||Bruce||None|
|Chief Justice||18 April 1952||13 April 1964||4378 [a]||Menzies|
|13||H. V. Evatt||NSW||1894–1965||Justice||19 December 1930||2 September 1940||3,545||Scullin||None||Resigned to return to politics|
|14||Sir Edward McTiernan||NSW||1892–1990||Justice||20 December 1930||12 September 1976||16,703||Scullin||None|
|15||Sir John Latham||Vic||1877–1964||Chief Justice||11 October 1935||7 April 1952||6,023||Lyons||None|
|16||Sir Dudley Williams||NSW||1889–1963||Justice||15 October 1940||31 July 1958||6,498||Menzies||Sup Ct of NSW|
|17||Sir William Webb||Qld||1887–1972||Justice||16 May 1946||16 May 1958||4,383||Chifley||Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of Qld
|18||Sir Wilfred Fullagar||Vic||1892–1961||Justice||8 February 1950||9 July 1961||4,169||Menzies||Sup Ct of Vic||Died in office|
|19||Sir Frank Kitto||NSW||1903–1994||Justice||10 May 1950||1 August 1970||7,388||Menzies||None|
|20||Sir Alan Taylor||NSW||1901–1969||Justice||3 September 1952||3 August 1969||6,178||Menzies||Sup Ct of NSW||Died in office|
|21||Sir Douglas Menzies||Vic||1907–1974||Justice||12 June 1958||29 November 1974||6,014||Menzies||None||Died in office|
|22||Sir Victor Windeyer||NSW||1900–1987||Justice||8 September 1958||29 February 1972||4,922||Menzies||None|
|23||Sir William Owen||NSW||1899–1972||Justice||22 September 1961||31 March 1972||3,843||Menzies||Sup Ct of NSW||Died in office|
|24||Sir Garfield Barwick||NSW||1903–1997||Chief Justice||27 April 1964||11 February 1981||6,134||Menzies||None|
|25||Sir Cyril Walsh||NSW||1909–1973||Justice||20 September 1969||29 November 1973||1,531||Gorton||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|Died in office|
|26||Sir Harry Gibbs||Qld||1917–2005||Justice||4 August 1970||5 February 1987||6029 [a]||Gorton||Fed Ct of BK
Sup Ct of Qld
|Chief Justice||12 February 1981||5 February 1987||2184 [a][c]||Fraser|
|27||Sir Ninian Stephen||Vic||1923–2017||Justice||1 March 1972||11 May 1982||3,723||McMahon||Sup Ct of Vic||Resigned to be appointed Governor-General|
|28||Sir Anthony Mason||NSW||1925–||Justice||7 August 1972||20 April 1995||8,291 [a]||McMahon||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|Chief Justice||6 February 1987||20 April 1995||2995 [c]||Hawke|
|29||Sir Kenneth Jacobs||NSW||1917–2015||Justice||8 February 1974||6 April 1979||1,883||Whitlam||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|30||Lionel Murphy||NSW||1922–1986||Justice||10 February 1975||21 October 1986||4,271||Whitlam||None||Died in office|
|31||Sir Keith Aickin||Vic||1916–1982||Justice||20 September 1976||18 June 1982||2,097||Fraser||None||Died in office|
|32||Sir Ronald Wilson||WA||1922–2005||Justice||21 May 1979||13 February 1989||3,556 [c]||Fraser||None|
|33||Sir Gerard Brennan||Qld||1928–||Justice||12 February 1981||21 May 1998||6,307 [a][c]||Fraser||Fed Ct|
|Chief Justice||21 April 1995||21 May 1998||1126 [c]||Keating|
|34||Sir William Deane||NSW||1931–||Justice||25 June 1982||11 November 1995||4,887 [c]||Fraser||Fed Ct||Resigned to be appointed Governor-General|
|35||Sir Daryl Dawson||Vic||1933–||Justice||30 July 1982||15 August 1997||5,495 [c]||Fraser||None|
|36||John Toohey||WA||1930–2015||Justice||6 February 1987||2 February 1998||4,014 [c]||Hawke||Fed Ct|
|37||Mary Gaudron||NSW||1943–||Justice||6 February 1987||31 January 2003||5,838 [c]||Hawke||None|
|38||Michael McHugh||NSW||1935–||Justice||14 February 1989||31 October 2005||6,104 [c]||Hawke||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|39||William Gummow||NSW||1942–||Justice||21 April 1995||8 October 2012||6,381 [c]||Keating||Fed Ct|
|40||Michael Kirby||NSW||1939–||Justice||6 February 1996||2 February 2009||4,745 [c]||Keating||Sup Ct of NSW
Pres, NSW Ct of App
|41||Kenneth Hayne||Vic||1945–||Justice||22 September 1997||5 June 2015||6,465 [c]||Howard||Sup Ct of Vic
Vic Ct of App
|42||Ian Callinan||Qld||1937–||Justice||3 February 1998||31 August 2007||3,496 [c]||Howard||None|
|43||Murray Gleeson||NSW||1938–||Chief Justice||22 May 1998||29 August 2008||3,752 [c]||Howard||Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of NSW
|44||Dyson Heydon||NSW||1943–||Justice||1 February 2003||28 February 2013||3,681 [c]||Howard||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|45||Susan Crennan||Vic||1945–||Justice||1 November 2005||2 February 2015||3,381 [c]||Howard||Fed Ct|
|46||Susan Kiefel||Qld||1954–||Justice||4 September 2007||Incumbent||4,652 [a][c]||Howard||Sup Ct of Qld
|Chief Justice||30 January 2017||Incumbent||1,216 [c]||Turnbull|
|47||Robert French||WA||1947–||Chief Justice||8 September 2008||29 January 2017||3,072 [c]||Rudd||Fed Ct|
|48||Virginia Bell||NSW||1951–||Justice||3 February 2009||Incumbent||4,134 [c]||Rudd||Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
|49||Stephen Gageler||NSW||1958–||Justice||9 October 2012||Incumbent||2,790 [c]||Gillard||None|
|50||Patrick Keane||Qld||1952–||Justice||1 March 2013||Incumbent||2,647 [c]||Gillard||Sup Ct of Qld
|51||Geoffrey Nettle||Vic||1950–||Justice||3 February 2015||Incumbent||1,943 [c]||Abbott||Sup Ct of Vic|
|52||Michelle Gordon||Vic||1964–||Justice||9 June 2015||Incumbent||1,817 [c]||Abbott||Fed Ct|
|53||James Edelman||WA||1974–||Justice||30 January 2017||Incumbent||1,216 [c]||Turnbull||Fed Ct
Sup Ct of WA
- Terms as Puisne Justice and Chief Justice combined
- Albert Piddington resigned from the High Court before being sworn in. He never sat on the High Court bench.
- Justices to whom mandatory retirement (age 70) applied/applies; appointments since 1977
Composition of the High CourtEdit
13 politicians, serving or former, have been appointed to the High Court of Australia. Nine justices have served in the Parliament of Australia: Edmund Barton, Richard O'Connor, Isaac Isaacs, H. B. Higgins, Edward McTiernan, H. V. Evatt, John Latham, Garfield Barwick, and Lionel Murphy. All but Evatt were appointed after their parliamentary service; Evatt resigned from the bench in order to pursue his federal political career, although he had previously served in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. In addition to the above, four justices served in colonial parliaments: Samuel Griffith, Charles Powers, Albert Piddington and Adrian Knox, although all concluded their political careers more than 10 years prior to their appointments. As of 2020, the most recent justice to serve in state or federal parliament is Lionel Murphy.
This following chart illustrates the composition of the High Court. It indicates the seven seats of the court, and who has occupied each seat at different points in the court's existence. The red portions represent the future part of a judge's term and show the date at which they are bound to retire from the court (although they may choose to retire before that date). The blue portions of a judge's term show a period in which that judge was Chief Justice.
- Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, s 71 ("Judicial power & courts"). From Australian Legal Information Institute (AUSTLII), "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act: Chapter III: The Judicature: Section 71". Accessed 26 January 2007.
- Bell, Virginia (29 May 2017). "Examining the Judge: Launch of Issue 40(2) UNSW Law Journal" (PDF). High Court of Australia. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- "Callinan retires from High Court", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31 August 2007. Accessed 31 August 2007.
- "Chief Justice honoured at retirement ceremony". ABC News. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- "Michael Kirby leaves High Court bench with 'faith' in law intact". The Australian. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2009.
- "Solicitor-General Gagelar appointed to High Court". ABC News. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "About the Justices". High Court of Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
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