Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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Issue 15: December 2006
Swearing-in of His Honour Judge Anthony Rafter SC DCJ Print E-mail

main_05SwearingIn.jpgOn 15 December 2006, His Honour Judge Anthony Rafter SC was sworn in as a Judge of the District Courts. The Association was represented at the ceremony by the President, Martin Daubney SC, whose speech is reproduced below.


“Even a cursory perusal of Your Honour’s curriculum vitae reveals the depth of legal acumen and breadth of experience which so eminently equip you for the important office you have assumed today.

The Honourable the Attorney-General has already mentioned most of the defining events which have marked Your Honour’s professional career to date, from your time working in the Public Defender’s Office through your career at the private Bar, and I won’t go over them again at length. But a couple of matters are worthy of a little emphasis.

AMP_loans.jpg When Your Honour took silk in 2003, you were already widely regarded as one of the pre-eminent criminal appellate counsel n this State. You had appeared in a large number of significant appeals in the Court of Appeal and in the High Court, including Robinson’s Case1 , Gilbert’s Case2 Doggett’s Case3 , Harwood’s Case4 , and Murray’s Case5. Your abilities were widely known through the profession, your services highly valued by your clients, and your skills as an advocate highly respected by the Courts. Your Honour mastered the detail of every brief, marshalled the relevant law, and knew how to present them most persuasively and effectively. Perhaps most importantly for your status as a barrister, the Courts had implicit trust in you as an advocate. In the course of argument in Doggett’s Case in the High Court, McHugh J. observed of you:

Mr Rafter, you are living proof that candour is not only an obligation but it is a weapon.

That would have to be one of the greatest compliments a barrister could receive.

Your Honour’s flourishing career in your chosen fields of criminal and disciplinary work after taking silk was, however, rudely interrupted from November 2004 to June 2005, when Your Honour was engaged in the vital service of restoring public confidence in the thoroughbred racing industry in this State. Those present will forgive me the indulgence of observing that it is a matter of great personal pride for me to have been associated with you in that endeavour. The significant benefit of Your Honour’s appointment to that Inquiry, of course, was that it meant someone on the team actually knew something about horse racing. Apart from your family, who indisputably hold the position of pre-eminence in Your Honour’s life, your extra-curricular activities over the years have in large part been devoted to matters equine, not always with great fiscal success but always with great enthusiasm.

However, in the course of the Racing Inquiry, I did uncover a little known fact about Your Honour, namely that you are bilingual. In the early stages of the Inquiry, we received evidence in closed session from a large number of racing identities. The evidence, of course, remains confidential, but there is an aspect of those hearings which I can safely reveal. We were visited by a succession of gentlemen, dressed almost uniformly in pork pie hats, loud check sports coats, and with cigarettes glued to their bottom lips. When they opened their mouths to speak, it appeared to me at least as if they were suffering some form of glossolalia – the words from their lips sounded like English, but no language that I had ever heard before. I felt as if I had been dropped into the middle of a Damon Runyon story. What disturbed me greatly was the fact that, not only could Your Honour understand them, you could converse freely with them in their native tongue!

The other things I learned about you during the course of the Inquiry are things your family and friends already knew – that your modesty hides a razor sharp eye and memory for detail, that you are constitutionally incapable of discourtesy, that you are loyal and have an unerring sense of fairness, that you are never too busy to have a chat and a laugh, that you are a man of dignity, and honesty and integrity. Were one to compile a catalogue of personal attributes for judicial office, this list would be a good place to start.

Your Honour has given freely of your time to the profession over the years, including by having served as a director of Barristers Services. It is only regrettable that your appointment cuts short your tenure on the Board of Legal Aid Queensland and as Chair of the Nursing Tribunal.

We have already mentioned Your Honour’s family. Your wife Fiona, herself a senior and highly respected solicitor, your sons William, Harold and George, and your parents can be justifiably proud of you, and we would presume to associate ourselves with that sentiment.

I have the privilege, on behalf of the Bar, to extend our warmest congratulations to Your Honour on your appointment to this Court. It goes without saying that you, like every other judicial officer in this State will enjoy the support and confidence of the Bar in the discharge of your duties of office.”

Martin Daubney SC
Bar Association of Queensland

1 Robinson v The Queen (1999) 197 CLR 162 
2 Gilbert v The Queen (2000) 201 CLR 414
3 Doggett v The Queen (2001) 208 CLR 343
4 Harwood v The Queen (2002) 188 ALR 296
5 Murray v The Queen (2002) 211 CLR 193

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