A “home-grown appointment” was celebrated in Cairns today with Magistrate Michael Dalton officially welcomed to the bench.
Colleagues, family and friends gathered at the Cairns Magistrates Court for the welcoming ceremony led by Chief Magistrate Janelle Brassington, and which followed Mr Dalton’s swearing-in on 24 July in Brisbane.
Described as a “son of Far North Queensland”, “local practitioner” and “local boy”, Mr Dalton’s background is pure Queenslander – from an early education via School of the Air at Cape Flattery, then attending Parramatta State School in Cairns and Trinity Bay State High School, to studying at James Cook University in Townsville.
He congratulated the speakers from the Queensland Law Society, Bar Association Queensland and Prosecutor Philip McCarthy KC on “their research” as his background and achievements from childhood to a stint in London as a prosecutor were read to the court.
Mr Dalton said he was “overwhelmed by the congratulations and well wishes” since his appointment and “truly humbled” to share the moment.
“It will be a miracle if I get through this speech without blubbering like a baby,” he said.
“I’m delighted to be sitting here today in this particular courtroom. It is where I have had some of my most memorable moments as a barrister over the past decade. But if I may be a little self-indulgent, none as memorable as today at least for me.
“It seems a lifetime ago now that I started my career in another ‘Court 1’ on the ground floor of this very building. It is still a little surreal to me that I have now returned to where it all began so many years ago.”
Mr Dalton was admitted as a solicitor in 1995 before being called to the Bar in Queensland in April 2010. His legal experience includes working as a solicitor in private practice in Cairns for nearly a decade, as a Senior Crown prosecutor in England, working for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and as a barrister in private practice for the past decade.
He said the majority of his law career had been spent in “the North” except for his time in London and Brisbane.
“What those experiences in the big smoke taught me was that I was good enough to successfully compete in a much bigger pond,” he said.
“It gave me a lot of confidence as a lawyer moving forward in my career, and underscored what I’d learnt in practice in Cairns was invaluable and transferrable to anywhere in the world. We punch above our weight.
“On that note I would like to thank the Attorney-General for having the confidence in appointing me, a local lawyer. In my view, it’s important to signal potential pathways for regional practitioners.”
He said he was “deeply honoured to serve this city and the Far North region” as a Magistrate, and he acknowledged his “beloved Edge Hill Tigers” (the Edge Hill Football Club).
He thanked friends, family and colleagues for their support as he put in long hours during his career.
In particular he mentioned his mother who was in the court but originally had other plans for her son’s career.
“Thank you for your constant love and support over the years. You always wanted me to be a lawyer, even when I wanted me to a physio. You, of course, were right, and here I am.”
Chief Justice Brassington said Mr Dalton would be “an immense asset” to a “busy court”.
She said there were 104 Magistrates in Queensland resident in 33 places and sitting in 122 local communities from Saibai Island to Goondiwindi.
Chief Justice Brassington said Mr Dalton’s travels would hold him in good stead for travel over “vast distances” required for remote court hearings where things “can and do indeed go wrong” due to distance and technology.
She said there were two more appointments to the bench expected and a new coroner to be appointed.