Catherine Holmes

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Catherine Holmes
19th Chief Justice of Queensland
In office
11 September 2015 – 19 March 2022
Nominated byAnnastacia Palaszczuk
Preceded byTim Carmody
Succeeded byHelen Bowskill
Royal Commissioner into the Robodebt Scheme
In office
18 August 2022 – 7 July 2023
Personal details
Born (1956-10-12) 12 October 1956 (age 67)
Brisbane, Queensland
Alma mater

Catherine Ena "Cate" Holmes AC SC (born 12 October 1956) is a retired Australian jurist who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland, the highest ranking court in the Australian state of Queensland. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2000, to the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2006 and appointed chief justice on 11 September 2015.[1][2] She retired on 19 March 2022.


Holmes attended Oxley State High School and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Darra, Queensland. She attended the Australian National University graduating with a Bachelor of Economics in 1977 and then attended the University of Queensland graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 1980. She completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the Queensland Institute of Technology in 1983, a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1989 and a Master of Laws (advanced) in 1998 both at the University of Queensland.[3] Holmes was awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from The University of Queensland in 2016.[4]


Holmes was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1982. In 1984 she was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland and was a Foundation Member of the Women's Legal Service in Queensland. She was a Crown Prosecutor in the Office of Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions from 1984 to 1986. In 1986 she began a law firm private practice focused on criminal and administrative law. She served as a Member of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal from 1994 to 2000.

Holmes was appointed deputy president of the Queensland Community Corrections Board in 1997. From 1998 to 1999 she served as the counsel assisting the Forde Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse. In 1999 she was appointed senior counsel and was made acting judge on the District Court of Queensland.

On 16 March 2000 Holmes was appointed as a judge on the Supreme Court of Queensland. From 2004 to 2006 she was a judge on the Queensland Mental Health Court. On 26 May 2006 she was appointed to the Queensland Court of Appeals of the Supreme Court of Queensland.

On 18 January 2011, it was announced that Justice Holmes would be appointed to head an inquiry into the 2011 Queensland floods.[5] The following day the Bar Association of Queensland criticised the appointment, suggesting that it would be unconventional for a sitting judge to head an inquiry. However, Paul de Jersey, then chief justice of Queensland, defended the appointment, arguing that it was appropriate because of the apparent absence of any suggestion of political or institutional corruption.[6] Since then, there have been several inquiries led by sitting judges, without giving rise to questions of convention.[7][8]

On 7 September 2015, Holmes was announced as the new Chief Justice of Queensland, replacing Tim Carmody who resigned on 1 July.[1][3]

She was sworn in on 11 September 2015, becoming the first female chief justice of the state.[9]

Holmes was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours for "eminent service to the judiciary, notably to criminal, administrative, and mental health law, and to the community of Queensland."[10]

Holmes has been appointed as the head of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Catherine Holmes named as Queensland chief justice". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Judges Schedule Superior Courts – Graduates from the Law School". TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Who is Catherine Holmes, Queensland's first female chief justice? By Kym Agius". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  4. ^ "The Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes". 2 November 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Flood inquiry announced as death toll rises – ABC News". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Bar attacks flood inquiry judge appointment | The Australian". Archived from the original on 20 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Independent Commission of Inquiry into Queensland Police Service responses to domestic and family violence". Independent Commission of Inquiry into Queensland Police Service responses to domestic and family violence. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  8. ^ "Final report". Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  9. ^ "Former Queensland chief justice Tim Carmody absent as successor Catherine Holmes sworn in – By Louisa Rebgetz". Australia: ABC News. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  10. ^ Stehle, Mark (25 January 2020). "Australia Day Honours 2020: Full list of recipients". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  11. ^ "'Shameful chapter': Federal government announces Royal Commission into Robodebt". Australia: ABC News. 25 August 2022. Retrieved 25 August 2022.
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of Queensland
Succeeded by