A Radical Tory: Reflections and recollections
Sir Garfield Barwick
Publication Date :
1 Jan 1996
Sir Garfield Barwick wrote the story of his public life. At the age of 92, he had been at the centre of Australian legal and political life for over half a century. The story starts in the inner suburbs of Sydney walking to the renowned Fort Street High School. Sydney University in the 1920s follows and a struggling career at the Bar takes hold before all is lost in the Great Depression. Civilian service in World War II was followed by triumph in the Bank Nationalisation Case. The defeat of the Chifley Government's legislation established Sir Garfield's reputation as an advocate in Australia and in the United Kingdom. It led to a decade of unparalleled dominance of the Australian Bar when he continually appeared in the High Court and led in such public inquiries as the Petrov Royal Commission. It also established Sir Garfield in the public mind as a Liberal Party man and in 1958, at the age of 56, he entered Parliament. He served six years, almost all on the front bench as a reforming Attorney-General as Minister for External Affairs focussing on Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. He resigned to become Chief Justice of the High Court in 1964 and in the next 18 years gave judgments delineating power in modern Australia: citizen and government, States and the Commonwealth, executive and legislature. Most notably, he provided crucial and controversial advice to the Governor-General in the 1975 Dismissal Crisis.