This is Gough Whitlam’s speech at the 175th anniversary of the Supreme Court of NSW.
Gough Whitlam’s speech at the 175th anniversary of the Supreme Court of NSW.
May it please the court, I have the honour and the privilege of speaking today on behalf of the Bar of New South Wales.
At Government House, on the corner of Bridge and Phillip Streets, on the 17 May 1824, Francis Forbes Esquire took the oath of office as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. We are gathered together to remember gratefully that day and its consequences. New South Wales had a Chief Justice before it had a Legislative Council or a Legislative Assembly or a Premier. For 175 years the Supreme Court has been primarily responsible for ensuring that the executive, legislature and judiciary of New South Wales obey the rule of law.
In Australia we do not learn and discuss our history as much as we should. For too many of us history happens in other countries. Except in New York State and a few of the other original States in the United States, no common law court in the world bears a name as old as the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Seven days before Chief Justice Forbes took his oath, John Lewes Pedder took the oath of office as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land. After the colonies of New Zealand, Victoria and Queensland were separated from the colony of New South Wales, Chief Justices of the new Supreme Courts took their oaths of office in January 1842, June 1852 and February 1863. The Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land became the Supreme Court of Tasmania in November 1855.