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The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie MP

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

Welcoming Ceremony for His Honour Judge Burnett and

Her Honour Judge Bowskill QC
District Court of Queensland

18 November 2014


Banco Court
Level 3, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law
415 George Street, Brisbane

Your Honour Chief Judge OBrien;

Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo;

Your Honours;

Mr Shane Doyle, President, Bar Association of


Mr Ian Brown, President, Queensland Law Society; and

Distinguished guests.

May it please the Court.

This mornings ceremony represents a significant milestone in
the development of the District Court in Queensland.

The appointment of two new District Court judges signifies a

changing of the guard. With the recent retirements of Her
Honour Chief Judge Wolfe and their Honours Judge Robin and
Judge Griffin this court has lost 53 years of dedication and
experience within a two week period.

This is a significant void to fill.

However, I regard it as a great privilege to have recommended

to His Excellency the Governor the appointment of His Honour
Judge Burnett and Her Honour Judge Bowskill to this court.

I should point out once again that, in considering these

appointments, I was guided by the words of Lord Hailsham
who, as Lord Chancellor, said in 1985:
My first and fundamental policy is to appoint solely on merit the
best potential candidate ready and willing to accept the post.
No considerations of party politics, sex, religion, or race must
enter into my calculations and they do not.

Personality, integrity, professional ability, experience, standing

and capacity are the only criteria, coupled of course with the
requirement that the candidate must be physically capable of
carrying out the duties of the post, and not disqualified by any
personal unsuitability. My overriding consideration is always
the public interest in maintaining the quality of the Bench and
confidence in its competence and independence.

I have complete confidence that their Honours meet His

Lordships six criteria to the fullest possible measure.

The importance of this is evident when the challenges facing

the modern District Court are considered.

The District Court has undergone a massive transformation

from its reconstitution in 1958 with an initial three judges to a
court of 39 judges later this month.

The magnitude of that change was described by His Honour

the Chief Judge upon his swearing in only a matter of weeks
ago when he said:

the Court today is a large and complex institution. Last

year, there were more than 5000 criminal lodgements in this
Court and a similar number of civil lodgements. Of course, not
all of those civil matters proceeded to trial, but they all required
the attention or management, to some degree, of the Judges or
of the Court Registries. The Judges of this Court perform
important work not only in the civil and criminal jurisdictions, but
also in the appellate jurisdiction, in the Planning and
Environment Court and in the Childrens Court

It is difficult to imagine changes to a court over such a relatively

short period of time that have encompassed such significant
increases in jurisdiction and breadth of matters dealt with.
That the District Court and its member judges over the past
56 years have been able to respond so effectively, efficiently
and professionally to these changes is a credit to the institution
and to those who serve on it.
However, the challenge to the court remains like all
institutions it is under greater public scrutiny, it faces greater
demands upon its resources and time, and it confronts an
increasingly complex and demanding world.

I believe the appointments of His Honour Judge Burnett and

Her Honour Judge Bowskill will bring to the court practitioners
with the experience, commitment and professionalism that have
been the hallmark of the District Court over many years.

His Honour Judge Burnett brings to this Court a wide range of

legal and community experiences. A graduate in Commerce
and Law from the University of Queensland Judge Burnett
practised as a solicitor before being admitted to the Bar in

He was subsequently awarded a Master of Laws from Bond

University and a Master of Business Administration from the
Queensland University of Technology.

After 22 years practise at the Bar His Honour was appointed to

the Federal Magistrates Court, now the Federal Circuit Court,
where he presided principally in the areas of bankruptcy and
administrative law.

His Honour has an extensive list of extra curricular

achievements. He was first commissioned in the Australian
Army Reserve in 1985 and in 1991 transferred to the RAAF
Specialist Reserve taking up appointment as a legal officer.

His Honour was appointed Deputy Judge Advocate General in

2010 and promoted to the rank of Air Commodore. He
maintains an active involvement in the RAAF Reserve, served
as Deputy Chairman of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and is
an enthusiastic private pilot.

I have been informed that His Honour, following a family

tradition, involved himself for a time in the brewing industry
though he may have wished he enjoyed the success of his
father and brother in this endeavour. Others may say that the
brewing industrys loss is the legal professions gain.

I am pleased to acknowledge that next year His Honour will

take up his appointment in Rockhampton where he served as
associate to His Honour Judge Shanahan.

Her Honour Judge Bowskill has developed a reputation at the

Bar as one of the pre-eminent practitioners in the area of native
title. Indeed, she has been acknowledged as a barristers
barrister enjoying great respect as a thorough and professional

That Her Honour holds a first class honours degree in law from
the University of Technology and was a University medallist is
well known.

That Her Honour commenced employment as a barristers

secretary may be less well known but attests to her
determination and dedication to succeed.

Prior to her admission to the Bar in 1998 Her Honour served as

an associate to Justice Drummond of the Federal Court and
was employed as a solicitor by the firm, Minter Ellison. Her
Honour was appointed silk in 2013 attesting to the regard in
which she is held by her professional colleagues.
Her Honours commitment to hard work is widely acknowledged
and her skills in the increasingly complex area of native title are
recognised by all sides. It should be noted that Her Honours
appearance in Akiba v Commonwealth and Queensland [2013]
HCA 33 resulted in the resolution of the conflict between the
impact of the granting of fishing licences and native title claims.
I trust that Her Honours elevation to the bench will not deter
her from following her other maritime connections and allow
her to rediscover her sea legs.

I am delighted to welcome Your Honours to the District Court.

You have both achieved significant professional success. I am

confident, with the support of your families and your colleagues,
that you will both continue to make significant contributions to
Queenslands judicial and legal system.

May it please the Court.