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Stephen Gageler Appointed Justice Of The High Court

The Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler, has been appointed a judge of the High Court of Australia.

Stephen GagelerThe appointment was announced today by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon. Gageler will replace Justice William Gummow who will reach the constitutionally-mandated retirement age of 70 on October 9.

Gageler is 54 years old. If he serves until he turns 70, he will remain on the High Court until July 8, 2028.

Gageler was appointed Solicitor-General by the previous Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, in 2008. As Solicitor-General, he is the Second Law Officer to the Attorney-General. The Solicitor-General appears on behalf of the Commonwealth, especially in the High Court.

Gageler grew up in NSW, studied law at the Australian National University and completed his Master of Laws at Harvard University in 1987.

Early in his career, Gageler was an Associate to Sir Anthony Mason, a former Justice and Chief Justice of the court. It is Mason’s seat that Gageler will take. It is the position originally held by Australia’s first prime minister, Sir Edmund Barton. Like Gageler, Mason also held the position of Solicitor-General between 1964-69.

Gageler is the 49th appointment to the High Court since it was established in 1903. He replaces the last of the Hawke-Keating appointments. When Gageler takes his seat in October, the court will consist of four appointments by the Howard government, two by the Rudd government and one by the Gillard government.

Gageler’s appointment maintains the balance of three NSW judges, two from Victoria, one from Queensland and one from Western Australia. There has never been a High Court judge appointed from South Australia or Tasmania.

Media release by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon:

New Justice of the High Court of Australia

21 August 2012

I am pleased to announce the Governor-General Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC CVO has today appointed Mr Stephen Gageler SC as Australia’s new Justice of the High Court of Australia following a recommendation from the Government.

Mr Gageler will be the 49th person appointed to the High Court since Federation.

Mr Gageler’s appointment will follow the retirement of the Honourable Justice William Gummow AC in October 2012 after 17 years of outstanding service to Australia’s highest court.

Mr Gageler has served as the Commonwealth Solicitor General since September 2008. He is a highly distinguished barrister and specialised in constitutional, administrative, revenue and commercial law in Sydney.

Mr Gageler studied Law and Economics at the Australian National University and completed a Master of Laws at Harvard University.

Mr Gageler served as associate for the Hon Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE QC, while he was a Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The Government thanks Mr Gageler for his work as the Solicitor-General and congratulates him on his appointment. It is a role that he will fill with distinction.

As Attorney, I consulted extensively in the lead up to the making of this decision.

This included consultation with all State and Territory Attorneys-General, the Federal Opposition, the Chief Justice and other Justices of the High Court, the Chief Justice of Federal Court, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, the Chief Federal Magistrate, the Chief Justices of the State and Territory Supreme Courts, the Council of Australasian Tribunals, the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Bar Association, State and Territory Bar Associations and Law Societies, Australian Women Lawyers, the National Association of Community Legal Centres, National Legal Aid, and Deans of law schools.

The Government is grateful to all those who took the time to put forward suggestions, which greatly assisted the Government’s consideration of the breadth and depth of talent in Australia’s legal profession.

A short biography of Mr Gageler follows.

Biography of Stephen Gageler SC, 49th Justice of the High Court of Australia

Current office:

  • Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia since 2008

Previous employment:

  • Barrister, Eleven Wentworth Chambers, Sydney 1992-2008
  • Barrister, Ground Floor Wentworth Chambers, Sydney 1990-1992
  • Tutor, Constitutional Law, Australian National University, 1988-1989
  • Principal Legal Officer and Assistant to the Solicitor-General, Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra 1987-1989
  • Legal Officer and Senior Legal Officer, Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra 1985-1987
  • Associate to the Hon Sir Anthony Mason KBE, High Court of Australia 1983-1985
  • Solicitor, Erlingtons Solicitors, Canberra 1982-1983


  • Appointed, Senior Counsel 2000
  • Admitted, Barrister, Supreme Court of New South Wales 1989
  • Master of Laws, Harvard University 1987
  • Admitted, Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of the ACT and the High Court of Australia 1982
  • B Laws (First Class Hons), Australian National University 1982
  • B Economics Australian National University 1980

Other professional activities:

  • Chairman, Constitutional Law Section, NSW Bar Association 2000-2008
  • Editor, Australian Law Reports 2006-2008
  • Member, Administrative Review Council 1996-2006
  • Member, Board of the 11th floor Wentworth Limited 1996-2006

Date of birth:

  • 5 July 1958


  • Mr Gageler was born and brought up in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, where he and his family lived on a four-hectare property that also housed his father and grandfather’s sawmill business C. Gageler and Son.
  • Mr Gageler attended his local state primary school (Giants Creek Primary) and high school (Muswellbrook High School).
  • Mr Gageler is married to Carla Gageler and has three children.
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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