"Judges As Royal Commissioners" Reprised: The Involvement of Australian Judges In Extra-Judicial Work

Thursday, 13 February, 2014 - 17:00 to 18:30
New South Wales

The George Winterton Memorial Lecture 2014, delivered by Professor Fiona Wheeler  (ANU College of Law):


The late George Winterton, published "Judges as Royal Commissioners" in 1987. In this paper, he claimed there was "overwhelming" justification for the view "that judges should generally decline to undertake extra-judicial governmental duties". This was because the use of judges in such roles "can endanger public confidence in the independence, impartiality and competence of the judiciary". At the same time, he argued that the Boilermakers Case "should be overruled" and replaced by a more flexible principle preventing federal courts from exercising functions at odds with their role as repositories of judicial power. Over 25 years later, this lecture reprises the themes — notably the need for judges to avoid controversy arising from contact with political matters — that Winterton explored in this characteristically incisive essay. Drawing on archival research undertaken by the speaker, the lecture will provide a window into the rich, though neglected, history of the involvement of Australian judges in extra-judicial work and explore the reasons why Winterton's arguments remain valid today.


Supreme Court of NSW, Queens Square, Sydney, Banco Court (Level 13), 6:00–7.30pm
This joint event was organised by Sydney Law School, AACL and the University of Western Australia.