10th Annual Hawke Lecture

Consensus and Dissent in Australia

With The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Podcast available HERE 

Bob Hawke was famous for his commitment to a search for consensus in politics and in industrial relations.  It was the theme of his Boyer Lectures and a feature of his leadership of the union movement and the nation.
This year's Hawke Lecturer, Justice Kirby, has the highest dissenting rate in the history of the High Court, even out-flanking the dissents of Justice Issacs, Justice Evatt and Justice Murphy.  In his Hawke Lecture, Justice Kirby will explore consensus and dissent in society.  When is it appropriate, in the law and in the community, to seek agreement?  And when do we have to stand up and disagree?  By reference to law and life, this year's Annual Hawke Lecture will examine consensus and dissent in Australia.


Michael Kirby delivering the 2007 Annual Hawke LectureJustice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia.  Justice Kirby is now the longest serving judicial officer in the nation.  He was first sworn in as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in December 1974.  In February 1975 he was appointed inaugural chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission.  He held that post until 1984.

In 1983, he was appointed by the Hawke Government a judge of the Federal Court of Australia.  In 1984 he was appointed President of the NSW Court of Appeal, the busiest appellate court in Australia.  In 1996 he was appointed one of the seven Justices of the High Court.

Justice Kirby has also served in many international bodies.  He was Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Human Rights in Cambodia; a member of the Global Commission on AIDS of WHO; a member of the ILO Mission to South Africa on its Labour Laws 1992; and President of the International Commission of Jurists.

Currently he serves as a member of the UNAIDS Global Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights and as a member of the Judicial Integrity Group of UNODC.

Famously, he gives his recreation as work but lately he has begun to ponder life after the High Court which he must leave early in 2009.

Published copies of the Annual Hawke Lecture series are available from the Hawke Centre.

Hawke Logo  


While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.