Gerard Brennan

Sir Francis Gerard Brennan AC KBE GBS QC (22 May 1928 – 1 June 2022) was an Australian lawyer and jurist who served as the 10th Chief Justice of Australia. As a judge in the High Court of Australia, he wrote the lead judgement on the Mabo decision, which gave rise to the Native Title Act.

Gerard Brennan
Gerard Brennan.jpg
10th Chief Justice of Australia
In office
21 April 1995 – 21 May 1998
Nominated byPaul Keating
Appointed byBill Hayden
Preceded byAnthony Mason
Succeeded byMurray Gleeson
Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
12 February 1981 – 21 April 1995
Appointed byMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byHarry Gibbs
Succeeded byWilliam Gummow
Personal details
Born
Francis Gerard Brennan

(1928-05-22)22 May 1928
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Died1 June 2022(2022-06-01) (aged 94)
NationalityAustralian
Spouse(s)
Patricia O'Hara
(m. 1953; died 2019)
Children7

Early life and educationEdit

Brennan was born on May 22, 1928 in Rockhampton, Queensland.[1] He was the son of Frank Tenison Brennan, a Labor Party politician, lawyer and judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland.[2][3] He was raised as, and continued to be, a Catholic and has said: "Egalitarianism, tolerance and the respect for conscience are the practical manifestations of faith, hope and charity."[4]

CareerEdit

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser appointed Brennan to the court in 1981.[3] During his career, Brennan wrote the lead judgement on the Mabo decision, which gave rise to the Native Title Act.[5]

He was appointed by prime minister Paul Keating to become the 10th Chief Justice of Australia in 1995.[6]

After retirementEdit

Following his retirement from the High Court, Brennan was a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (2000-2012)[7] and an external judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji (1999–2000), chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney (1998–2004) and Foundation Scientia Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales (1998). He was an honorary visiting professor of law at the University of New South Wales.

In June 2021, Brennan intervened in a public debate over a family of asylum seekers, supporting the family with a letter in major newspapers.[8] It begins:

Are other Australians ashamed, as I am? How can Australia, proud of our freedoms, respectful of all our peoples, and insistent on human dignity, inflict cruelty on Australian children as a means of achieving a goal of government policy?[9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1953, Brennan married Patricia O'Hara. Lady Brennan died on 3 September 2019.[10] Their first child, Frank Brennan, born in 1954, became a Jesuit priest, a human rights lawyer and an advocate for the rights of Aboriginal peoples.[4][1] He is known for his involvement in the Wik debate when Paul Keating referred to him as "the meddling priest".[11] A daughter, Bernadette, married Justin Gleeson, who later became Solicitor-General of Australia.[12]

Brennan died on 1 June 2022 in Sydney, aged 94,[13][1][14] two days before Mabo Day and the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision.[5][15]

HonoursEdit

In 1981, Brennan was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire[16] and, in 1988, appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the law.[17]

Brennan was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Melbourne (Hon. LL.D.), the University of Technology, Sydney (Hon. LL.D.), the University of Queensland (Hon. LL.D.), Griffith University (Hon. D.Univ.), Central Queensland University (Hon. D.Litt.), Trinity College Dublin (Hon. LL.D.) and the Australian Catholic University (Hon LL.D). He was a life fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.[18] He served as chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney, from 1998 to 2004.[19]

In 2013, Brennan was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.[20]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Judge who abolished notion of terra nullius was a dedicated advocate for human rights". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 2002. p. 755.
  4. ^ a b "Online Catholics Issue 52 – Comment – Kate Mannix". Onlinecatholics.acu.edu.au. Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Radford, Antoinette; Byrne, Elizabeth (2 June 2022). "Gerard Brennan, former High Court Chief Justice who wrote lead judgement on Mabo decision, dies age 94". ABC News. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  6. ^ "The National Legal Eagle : Who's Who in the Legal Zoo: Sir Gerard Brennan AC, KBE – Former Chief Justice of the High Court". Epublications.bond.edu.au. 2010. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal – Former Judges – The Honourable Sir Gerard BRENNAN, GBS". Hkcfa.hk. Archived from the original on 30 December 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  8. ^ Crowe, David (11 June 2021). "Deliberate cruelty to punish parents: Former High Court chief justice slams Tamil treatment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Obnoxious cruelty towards Tamil girls is un-Australian". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 June 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021. The title covers several letters.
  10. ^ "Homily for Patricia Brennan: Fr Frank Brennan SJ", Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Father Frank Brennan". acu.edu.au. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  12. ^ Gadfly, The Saturday Paper, 14–20 May 2016, p. 17.
  13. ^ Radford, Antoinette; Byrne, Elizabeth (2 June 2022). "Gerard Brennan, former High Court Chief Justice who wrote lead judgement on Mabo decision, dies age 94". ABC News. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  14. ^ Pelly, Michael (1 June 2022). "Former High Court chief justice Gerard Brennan dies". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  15. ^ Horn, Emma (3 June 2022). "It is the 30th anniversary of Mabo Day. What is it and why is it significant?". St George & Sutherland Shire Leader. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Brennan, Francis Gerard: The Order of the British Empire – Knights Commander (Civil)". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 3 April 1981. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  17. ^ "Brennan, Francis Gerard: Companion of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1988. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  18. ^ "Australian Academy of Law – Member public profile". Australian Academy of Law. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Timeline". About the University. University of Technology Sydney. 2011. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Civil And Miscellaneous Lists : Recipients of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Honours and Awards Grand Bauhinia Medal (G.B.M.)". Info.gov.hk. 15 September 2016. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of Australia
1995–1998
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
none
Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney
1998–2004
Succeeded by