The law and administration of divorce and related matters and the clauses of the Family Law Bill 1974
Drug problems in Australia
In 1976 the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs began an inquiry into whether a compulsory retirement age for High Court judges should be set. Its October report recommended constitutional amendment to prescribe a retirement age of 70, reasoning that it ‘will bring to the bench new ideas and fresh social attitudes’ by creating opportunities for younger judges.
The committee’s recommendations were adopted by the Australian Constitutional Convention and received widespread community support, with a national referendum in May 1977 passing the proposal.
But increasing life expectancy and the abolition of compulsory retirement in most workplaces has led to growing concern. Many people believe that judges with significant legal expertise are now being forced to retire prematurely, while still ‘at their peak’, and advocate either increasing or scrapping the retirement age. In either case, the committee may well find itself revisiting this important issue in future.
Justice Sir Edward McTiernan in 1954, National Archives of Australia, A1200, L16865