Sir Gerard Brennan

Statement on the death of Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE GBS QC

Sir Gerard Brennan was one of Australia’s greatest jurists and most revered judicial elders. His passing is a great sadness, for his family’s loss, and gratitude, on the part of the country, for his service. The Mason High Court of which he was a leading member, and the court of which he was Chief Justice, were among the finest in the common law world. These were courts of the highest calibre, and no Australian student of the law could be prouder of them.

His judgments in Koowarta, Mabo (No 1), Gerhardy v Brown, Tasmanian Dams and of course, Mabo (No 2), are justly famous and will endure for the ages. It is strangely fitting that he should pass on the eve of the 30th anniversary of his most astounding leading judgment in Mabo (No 2) – a magisterial tour de force of impeccable legal history and justice.

When he delivered on 3 June 1992 those immortal lines that the dispossession of the Aborigines “underwrote the development of the nation” he not only brought the country to the truth of its history but its very morality.

Noel Pearson
Cape York Institute

Photo credit: Andrew Taylor


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