Yesterday, the Herald Sun published a feature interview with the Chief Justice of Victoria, Marilyn Warren. She discusses the issue of criticism of “the number of women being appointed” as judicial officers in Victoria.  The article states:

At a recent celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Victorian Women lawyers, she [Justice Warren] queried the masculinity of male lawyers who had anonymously criticised the numbers of women being appointed. “It is difficult to answer or debate with those who have no face – or anything else,” Justice Warren told her delighted audience. …

“Many of the criticisms in the media start with “a male barrister who did not want to be named said”, and the Chief Justice finds this exasperating. “I think those individuals are lacking in intestinal fortitude,” she said. “I would like to engage in a debate with those people, but how can I if I don’t know who they are? “If they are barristers they’re used to engagement in court, and if they want to have the debate, well, bring it on. I’d like to have it.”

To my knowledge, many male barristers felt insulted that the Chief Justice should publicly state that they had no balls (that is, they were not men) because they did not engage in public debate with her. She now says they are gutless as well.

The Chief Justice has now made an offer to debate. Yesterday I accepted the challenge in these terms: I am a male barrister. I criticise “the numbers of women being appointed” (the Herald Sun today). I am opposed to affirmative action in judicial appointments. I thus qualify as a “male critic’. I accept your public challenge.

I look forward to a very interesting debate. Bring it on.

Peter Fray

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