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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Sir William Deane 2008

Merilyn Fairskye

single channel moving image, colour, sound, 2 minutes, 47 seconds

Sir William Deane AC KBE QC (b. 1931), High Court judge, was Governor-General of Australia from 1996 to 2001. Spending his primary school years in Canberra, Deane was educated in Catholic schools and the University of Sydney. He returned to the ACT to work in the Attorney-General’s Department before undertaking postgraduate study in international law in The Hague. Called to the Bar in 1957, he lectured for five years at Sydney University before being appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1966. Eleven years later he was appointed a judge in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and the President of the Australian Trade Practices Tribunal. In July 1982, he was appointed a Justice of the High Court of Australia, on which he served until he retired in late 1995 to take up his appointment as Governor-General. Sworn in by Paul Keating and farewelled by John Howard, Deane is popularly renowned as a champion of the common person, and Indigenous Australians in particular. ‘The ultimate test of our worth as a nation will be how we treat our most vulnerable’, he said on his last day in office, when he hosted a lunch for homeless children at Government House and expressed regret that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians had not yet formally reconciled. Deane stayed in Canberra after retirement and is now Patron of the Canberra Centenary celebrations.

Purchased 2011
© Merilyn Fairskye/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Merilyn Fairskye

Sir William Deane AC KBE QC (age 77 in 2008)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

My Favourite Australian
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Previous exhibition, 2008

My Favourite Australian is a project developed in collaboration with ABC TV and the people of Australia.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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