It seems that Kevin Rudd is developing a penchant for appointing former Liberal and National Party members.
First it was Tim Fisher as Ambassador to the Holy See ahead of a long list of Labor Party hopefuls and now Bob French as Chief Justice of the High Court.
Justice French is a former member of the Western Australian Liberal Party and for a period as the President of the Fremantle Division of the Liberal Party he served on the Party’s State Executive. He was also at one time an endorsed Liberal candidate.
By Western Australian Liberal Party values, Bob French was seen within the Party as a small “L” Liberal. It is perhaps trite to observe that he and Charles Court had little in common. At a time when the Liberal/ National Party governed in large measure through country weighting, with great courage and in the face of the entire State Executive, Bob moved and argued passionately for one vote one value.
Thirty years later one vote one value legislation passed through the Western Australian parliament with the vote of a disendorsed Liberal member of the Legislative Council.
At a time when the Western Australian Liberal Party was furiously opposed to Native Title and furiously in favour of electoral weighting and federalism, Bob French held entirely opposed views.
Justice French is unquestionably an outstanding black letter lawyer with considerable moral courage and I would be very surprised if he is a passive Chief Justice.