The Brennan Legacy: Blowing the winds of legal orthodoxy
Publication Date :
1 Jan 2002
This book commemorates the achievements of Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE in the field of administrative justice. Through the eyes of judicial colleagues (Sir Anthony Mason, former Justice Davies, Justice Wilcox, Justice Balmford)), practitioners (Stephen Gageler SC), a former associate (Associate Professor Gerard Carney) and an eminent public lawyer (Stephen Skehill), we develop a picture of this key figure in Australian legal history. Sir Gerard's own voice is heard on the limits of the court's role in an era of corporatisation and lamenting its removal on politically sensitive issues such as migration. Through the three themes of the work - judicial review, human rights (including the impact of international law) and administrative tribunals - we view a man who adhered strictly to principled reasoning, consistency and constitutional propriety, a man who impressed on administrative law the standards, integrity and high standing which marked his judicial career. Sir Gerard is a man of principle and of compassion, sensitive to constitutional boundaries, a champion of individual rights, a guardian of judicial integrity and a principled common lawyer. It was to this figure that the stewardship of some of Australia's key administrative law institutions, particularly the Commonwealth's Administrative Appeals Tribunal, was entrusted. It was his wise initial captaincy which set that institution apart, preserved it from a hostile public sector, and ensured that the concept of a merit review tribunal with wide jurisdiction has been or is being copied in most Australian States and Territories. Sir Gerard's contribution did not end there. His understanding of the need for respect between and tolerance of each arm of government, especially between the executive and the courts, progressed with him to the Federal Court and ultimately the High Court of Australia, where he was Chief Justice from 1995-1998. At each level he produced outstanding and insightful judgments tempered by those personal qualities, and enriched by his deep understanding of law and government.