Tasmania’s 29th Governor

Peter Gutwein,Premier

I have received approval from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for Ms Barbara Baker to be appointed Tasmania’s 29th Governor.

Ms Baker will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role following a distinguished career as a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, and extensive service in the administration of justice and the law more broadly.

She has also been a significant leader for women in Tasmania, having become the first female partner of the law firm, Murdoch Clarke in 1993, and the first Tasmanian woman to be appointed as a Federal Magistrate in 2008.

Ms Baker has also excelled on the sporting field, having represented Tasmania in the sports of Hockey and Real Tennis.

Congratulations to Ms Baker on her appointment, and I am sure she will bring the same commitment and enthusiasm to the role that she has displayed throughout her extensive career.

I would like to recognise the dedication and service of Tasmania’s outgoing Governor, Her Excellency Professor Kate Warner AM.

I also thank Her Excellency for continuing beyond her initial term to provide stability for the State as we responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. At an appropriate time at the conclusion of Her Excellency’s term we will appropriately recognise both her and Mr Warner for their outstanding service to our State.

Ms Baker is now the Governor Designate and will take Office next month following the end of Her Excellency’s term on 9 June.

Barbara Baker – Biography

Barbara Baker retired as a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on 31 January 2021 after becoming the first Tasmanian woman to be appointed as a Federal Magistrate in 2008. She is currently practising as a barrister at Burbury Chambers.

Prior to her appointment to the Federal Magistrates Court, Ms Baker worked as a legal practitioner for over 23 years ultimately specialising in family law and relationship matters. Ms Baker was one of the first lawyers to join the Tasmanian Bar practising exclusively in family law.

Ms Baker graduated from the University of Tasmania with a combined Arts/Law degree in 1980. She was admitted to the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1983. After working as a solicitor at Simmons Wolfhagen and then as a Legal Officer at the Office of the Solicitor General of Tasmania, she joined the law firm of Murdoch Clarke becoming the first female partner in 1993.

Throughout her career Ms Baker has held numerous additional responsibilities including serving as:

  • member of the Law Council Tasmania (1994 – 1996)
  • member of the executive of the Law Council Tasmania (1995 and 1996),
  • chairperson of the Public Relations Committee of the Law Council Tasmania (1994 – 1996)
  • member of the organising committee of the National Family law Conference Hobart (1998)
  • law reporter for the Council of Law Reporting (1995 – 1998)
  • chairperson of legal aid conferences (1996 – 2000)
  • President of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association (2002)
  • appointee to the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Tasmanian Law Society (2007 – 2008).

Additionally, during her years in private practice and at the Tasmanian Bar, Ms Baker has made significant contribution to the profession and to the Tasmanian Legal Practice Course having:

  • mentored junior practitioners and provided professional training and support
  • lectured in Family Law Practice and Procedure at the Tasmanian Legal Practice Course
  • been involved in professional advice and support of legal practitioners as a member of the judiciary
  • presided over moot interim hearings for the Legal Practice Course students; and
  • delivered an annual lecture about practice and procedure in the Federal Circuit Court.

Ms Baker is known for her enormous contributions made to the administration of justice, the advancement of specialist advocacy in the family law jurisdiction and the promotion of women at the bar. She is renowned her firm but fair demeanour and clear and decisive decision-making.

In addition to her successful professional career, Ms Baker’s sporting achievements include:

  • U18 Tasmanian State Lawn Tennis Team
  • U18 Tasmanian State Hockey Team
  • Australian Women’s Hockey Squad
  • Tasmanian Indoor Hockey Team Captain
  • Named in Australian Indoor Hockey Squad
  • Royal Tennis Tasmanian Ladies Single Champion
  • Royal Tennis Australian Amateur Ladies Champion
  • Royal Tennis Australian Open Singles Champion
  • Royal Tennis Open Doubles Champion
  • Member of Australian Royal Tennis Team to play in Holyport Great Britain.

Ms Baker is married to Distinguished Emeritus Professor Don Chalmers AO FAAL FAHMS, has two daughters and is grandmother to two grandsons. She enjoys reading, the Arts, walking her two border collies and spending time with family and friends.

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