chapter  6
17 Pages

Diversity without a judicial appointments commission

The Australian experience
ByAndrew Lynch

Australia, at the Commonwealth, state and territory levels, remains faithful to the practice of appointing judicial officers by essentially unconstrained executive discretion. However, the more positive catalyst appeared to be the changes to the selection of judges for the courts of England and Wales that were introduced by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, specifically the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). Enthusiasm for the JAC was not shared by Australia's elected representatives. No Australian government has taken the path of establishing a judicial appointments commission. This chapter explores consequence of the Australian reluctance to create a judicial appointments commission by asking what effect this has had on judicial diversity. It then moves to consider actual progress towards greater gender diversity in the courts of Australia compared with those of England and Wales. Attorney-General McClelland's initiation of a more transparent and consultative system of federal judicial appointments in Australia was a response.