News National Susan Kiefel sworn in as Australia’s first female High Court chief justice

Susan Kiefel sworn in as Australia’s first female High Court chief justice

Susan Kiefel chief justice
Susan Kiefel has served on the bench of the High Court since 2007. Photo: AAP
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Australia’s first female High Court chief justice has been sworn in at an official ceremony in Canberra.

Justice Susan Kiefel took the oath of allegiance and office on Monday, replacing the retiring Robert French.

She is the only woman to fill the highest judicial role in the land in 113 years.

Attorney-General George Brandis said it was a privilege and great personal pleasure to congratulate Justice Kiefel on her accession.

“As I said as I announced your appointment, yours is truly a great Australian story,” he told the ceremony, attended by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove,

“A story to inspire women and men alike.”

He cited her decision to leave school at 15 and, with a steely determination, work hard to become a barrister.

She later went on to be a Queensland Supreme Court judge before joining the Federal Court in 2007.

James Edelman will also become one of the nation’s youngest appointments to the court when he’s sworn in during a separate, afternoon ceremony.

The 42-year-old Justice Edelman takes over Justice Kiefel’s role.

Born in Queensland, she left school at 15, worked as a legal secretary, studied at night to first complete her high school qualifications and then law through the Barristers Admission Board.

Justice Kiefel’s career is marked by groundbreaking achievements: she was the first woman in Queensland appointed a Queen’s Counsel; first to the state’s Supreme Court; the third woman appointed to the High Court.

Highly regarded by the judiciary and the legal profession, Justice Kiefel was the overwhelming favoured candidate to succeed Justice French.

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