Skip to main content
Menu

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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

The Hon Lionel Murphy

1978
Judith O'Conal-Prinz

oil on board (frame: 93.0 cm x 80.5 cm, support: 63.5 cm x 76.2 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Lionel Murphy QC (1922-1986), High Court judge and Labor politician, grew up in Sydney, studied science and law at Sydney University, was admitted to the Bar in 1947, and became a QC in 1960. A long-term member of the Labor party, he was elected a senator for NSW in 1961, and was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1967 to 1972. During the Whitlam government he served as Attorney General and Minister for Customs and Excise. In February 1975 he was appointed a Justice of the High Court, a position he retained until his death in 1986. Murphy’s most important legislative achievement was the revolutionary Family Law Act 1975, which introduced the principle of no fault divorce and established the Family Court of Australia. He also passed legislation substantially abolishing appeals to the Privy Council; removing censorship; providing freedom of access to government information; reforming corporations and trade practices law; protecting the environment; abolishing the death penalty; and outlawing racial and other discrimination. He established a systematic legal aid service for all courts, set up the Australian Law Reform Commission (of which Michael Kirby was inaugural chairman) and the Australian Institute of Criminology, and took the French Government to the International Court of Justice to protest against its nuclear tests in the Pacific. A supernova remnant, SNR N86, is named The Lionel-Murphy SNR in tribute to his lifelong interest in science.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Lionel Murphy Foundation 2012

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

Judith O'Conal-Prinz

Lionel Murphy (age 56 in 1978)

Subject professions

Law and justice

Donated by

Lionel Murphy Foundation (1 portrait)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency