DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS: My question without notice is directed to the Attorney General, and Minister for Justice. When is it expected that the new Chief Judge of the District Court will be announced?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: On 12 December Jim Staunton, the present Chief Judge of the District Court, will retire. He was appointed on 1 April 1971. He has spent almost 23½ years as the Chief Judge and has been an outstanding judicial officer. On behalf of all members of this House, I note his outstanding contribution to judicial administration in this State and to the welfare of the people of this State. I am now able to announce that the Governor today approved the appointment of Mr Justice Blanch as the Chief Judge of the District Court. His appointment will take effect from 13 December. Mr Justice Blanch obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree from Sydney University and was admitted as a solicitor in 1966 and as a barrister in 1972. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1980.
Mr Justice Blanch was appointed as a public defender in 1972 and became Senior Public Defender in 1980. He was appointed Crown Advocate in 1984. In 1987 he was appointed as the first Director of Public Prosecutions in New South Wales. It would be fair to say that at the time of his retirement from that position he had the reputation of being the most outstanding Director of Public Prosecutions in this country. He was formerly a consultant in criminal law to the Australian National University and a tutor and lecturer in criminal law with the Solicitors Admission Board and the Barristers Admission Board. I welcome his appointment as the Chief Judge and wish him all the best.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: He has big shoes to fill.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The Hon. J. R. Johnson correctly states that he has remarkably big shoes to fill, but I have every confidence that Reg Blanch will be able to fill those shoes. Since being appointed to the Supreme Court on 28 February this year, he has been shown himself to be an outstanding judicial officer. I have heard nothing but complimentary remarks about him during his term of office on the Supreme Court. I welcome his acceptance of the appointment as Chief Judge of the District Court.