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No case for increasing size of High Court.

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Senator the Hon George Brandis SC Shadow Attorney-General

The Shadow Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, today called on the Attorney-General Robert McClelland to put an immediate end to rumours that the Government planned to legislate to increase the size of the High Court from seven Justices to nine.

''In recent days, the legal profession has been awash with rumours that the Government plans to increase the size of the High Court,'' Senator Brandis said.

''In particular, there are persistent stories that Greens Senators have been sounded out by the Attorney-General's office about their willingness to support an amendment to the High Court of Australia Act to increase the High Court, with an additional two appointments, to a bench of nine.''

''There is no justification whatever to increase the size of the High Court, and none of the Judges has called for it.

''With two appointments to the Court to be announced shortly to replace the retiring Chief Justice and Justice Kirby, any increase in the size of the Court would mean the Rudd Government would be appointing four judges within the space of six months. Such a move would profoundly alter the shape of the Court for a generation and in the absence of any calls from the judiciary, it cannot be seen as anything but politically motivated.''

Senator Brandis said that the Opposition had always made it clear that it would support the appointment of suitably eminent candidates to replace the Chief Justice and Justice Kirby. But any move to expand the size of the Court, in the absence of any demonstrated need to do so, would be a transparent a grab for power which the Opposition would vigorously resist.