Peter Costello


Ceremonial Sitting, Federal Court of Australia, Melbourne




May it please the Court, it is my honour today to represent the Attorney General, Philip Ruddock who is in Indonesia at the Australia Indonesia Ministerial Council and also in the capacity as Acting Prime Minister with the Prime Minister overseas. It is a pleasure to see so many familiar and friendly faces here today in this purpose-built Federal Court funded out of the 1996 budget, your Honour, with great assistance from the Chief Justice in the design features. It is a pleasure to welcome the Honourable Justice Christopher Jessup to the bench of the Federal Court of Australia.

Your Honour has had an outstanding career as a barrister and as a leader of the Bar and I am confident that this will continue on the bench of the Federal Court. You undertook your schooling at Malvern Grammar and Scotch College and following that at Monash University where you graduated with Honours degrees in both economics and law. After that you undertook post-graduate work at the London School of Economics completing a Doctorate of Philosophy in the area of industrial relations. Your thesis was entitled, "Some Aspects of the Operation of the Law upon Trade Unions and their Organisational Components in Britain and Australia."

Your Honour practised at the Melbourne Bar for over 30 years gaining a wealth of experience and expertise in the areas of employment and industrial law and practised also in areas of commercial and administrative law. In 1987 you were appointed Queen's Counsel and you have made a tremendous contribution to professional associations: in 1992 as Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council, in 1994 as Chairman of the Federal Litigation Section of the Law Council of Australia and as a founding member of the Australian Labour Law Association Management Committee.

During your Honour's career you have published widely, particularly on industrial law and you have made significant contributions to journals such as The Australian Journal of Labour Law. You are known to have a number of passions. You were, in your earlier life, a rally driver and could be seen as a young barrister driving an open sports car through the streets of Melbourne with hat, goggles and gloves; sometimes, I think, a mobile phone plugged in, just for effect. But in later days your passion has been wine. You come from a profession more known for its consumption than production of wine but you have developed a vineyard in central Victoria which specialises in shiraz and was recently highly commended by the American wine writer, Robert Parker.

I can remember being in cases with your Honour representing different clients. I can recall being a junior to your Honour. But, fortunately, I never did cases for clients opposed to your Honour which saved me the embarrassment of ever representing a losing litigant. I do recall being a Junior in Court Number One in the Federal Court - the old High Court in Little Bourke Street; a Court which I hope will be preserved - when your Honour and I were doing a particularly long case where the evidence, I recall before Sir Edward Woodward, finished shortly before Christmas.

He ordered us to produce written submissions in January. Your Honour was holidaying on the Peninsula and you ordered your Junior, me, to write the submissions and bring them down to the beach house for a conference. The submissions were impeccable and we soon finished our work. Your Honour decided we would play beach cricket, looked at me and gave me the new ball, ordered me to field in all the positions in front of the wicket and bowl out your 10 year old son. Three hours later he was still undefeated at the crease. But, your Honour was not unhelpful; you stood behind the wicket and gave helpful advice on my line and length for three hours as we tried to get your young son out.

On that personal note I should mention your Honour's wife and two children who are here today and have been heavily involved and supportive in your career. It is said that you have amazing powers of concentration. A colleague recalls you making a submission in Court with a glass of water in your hand and dropping it, but, not stopping; continuing the submission as if nothing had happened. It is certainly my belief that the Federal Court is the outstanding Court of superior jurisdiction in Australia. If it wishes to remain so it is important to have judges of the highest merit and I believe that the Federal Court does have judges of the highest merit exercising its jurisdiction.

Your Honour will add to the lustre of the Bench throughout Australia, but particularly in the Victorian Registry. You have a wealth of experience, outstanding integrity and personal attributes which will serve the people of Australia well. I wish you all the best for your future as a Judge of this prestigious Court. May it please the Court.

29 Jun 2006

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