Coalition defends record on women judges

·2-min read

The Morrison government has defended failing to appoint any women Federal Court judges in Melbourne since the coalition came to power in 2013.

Officials at Senate estimates confirmed on Tuesday the nine appointees to Melbourne's registry were all men.

Six men have been appointed by Attorney-General Christian Porter during his tenure, which started in late 2017.

Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker accused the opposition of focusing on one registry as she defended the government's record on boosting the ranks of female judges.

Comparing the numbers to under the previous Labor administration, she said the Federal Court had increased from 11 to 13 women judges under the coalition.

Female Federal Circuit Court judges increased from 24 to 26, while the numbers of women on the High Court and Family Court were consistent at three and 18 respectively.

"If you just look at one little registry you get a very unbalanced picture of just how committed this government is," Senator Stoker told the hearing.

Victorian Labor senator Kim Carr railed against the description of Melbourne as just one little registry.

"Every other state in the Commonwealth managed to be able to find senior women suitably qualified to be appointed to the Federal Court," he said.

"Why is it in Victoria there are no qualified senior women according to this government, this attorney-general, to be appointed to the Federal Court?"

Senator Stoker said she rejected the premise of his question.

"We are always on the lookout for great female appointments as we are on the lookout for great male appointments," she said.

"We judge these things on who is the best available person at the time of the appointment."

The Liberal frontbencher noted boards within the attorney-general's portfolio comprised 49 per cent women, and 44 per cent of appointees on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal were female.

Senator Stoker said Mr Porter consulted broadly on all appointments.