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Appointment of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

Prime Minister of Australia
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Cabinet Secretary
The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

Joint media release

We are pleased to announce that the Governor-General, His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), has accepted the advice of the Government to appoint the Honourable Justice Debra Mortimer as Australia’s new Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court).

Justice Mortimer is only the fifth Chief Justice of the Federal Court and the first female Chief Justice appointed since the Court was established in 1976.

Justice Mortimer has served on the Federal Court since 2013. Her Honour’s appointment as Chief Justice will commence on 7 April 2023 upon the retirement of the Honourable Chief Justice James Allsop AC.

The Government congratulates Justice Mortimer on her appointment and looks forward to her distinguished contribution to the justice system as she leads the Federal Court.

The Attorney-General consulted extensively on the appointment, including all state and territory Attorneys-General, the heads of the Federal Courts and state and territory Supreme Courts, the Law Council of Australia, and the Australian Bar Association.

Justice Mortimer is widely recognised for her legal acumen, intellectual capacity and judicial leadership.

The Government is grateful to all members of the legal profession who provided nominations and assisted with its consideration of candidates for this very important role.

We also take this opportunity to thank Chief Justice Allsop for his outstanding judicial service. Chief Justice Allsop’s affiliation with the Federal Court first began in 1980 when he commenced his distinguished legal career as an associate to the inaugural Chief Justice, Sir Nigel Bowen. In 2001, Chief Justice Allsop was appointed as a judge of the Court, and spent several years on the Bench, before moving from the federal courts in 2008 to take up an appointment as President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. In 2013, Chief Justice Allsop returned to the Federal Court, this time as Chief Justice, where he has since served with great distinction.

On behalf of the Australian Government we thank Chief Justice Allsop for his dedicated service to the Federal Court and broader contribution to the Australian legal system, and wish him all the very best for the future.