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Sir William Deane 2008

by Merilyn Fairskye

Blu-Ray digital video, colour, sound, duration 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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2011
Accession number: 2011.19