The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
The Baird Institute is very grateful to have The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG*, as our Patron.
Justice Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. He was the President of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW, for 13 years from 1984 to 1996.
He was a friend to Professor Douglas K Baird for even longer.
In 1985 when Justice Kirby’s mother suffered a heart attack, it was Professor Baird who came to the rescue. Within hours he had seen her, reassured her, and within days he had operated on her.
“I will never forget how, in the middle of the long operation, he came out to reassure my father and I that all was going well,” said Kirby.
“He was a gentle surgeon. He never lost interest in his patients. He understood their anxieties and the fears of their families.”
These stories emerged as Kirby delivered Baird’s eulogy at Sydney University in 1995, where the pair had first met as under-graduates decades earlier .
“What a model he was for the best of medical practice that our country can produce,” said Kirby.
“I want to speak here for the thousands and thousands of patients of Douglas Baird.”
“…In the extended lives of the multitude of his patients, including my mother and thousands like her, is a love for him, and a gratitude, which is enduring and which I, their surrogate, express on their behalf.”
Praise from one as accomplished as Michael Kirby is high praise indeed.
Kirby was first appointed in 1975 as Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he became the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission, from 1975-1984.
Later, Kirby was appointed as a Judge at the Federal Court of Australia, then President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal from 1984-1996 and, concurrently, President of the Court of Appeal of the Solomon Islands from 1995-1996.
In addition to this, Kirby was Chancellor of Macquarie University from 1984 to 1993.
Kirby’s appointment to the High Court of Australia followed in 1996 and he served thirteen years. He has since been Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.
Since his retirement from the High Court of Australia on February 2, 2009, Kirby has continued to undertake many international activities for the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the World Health Organisation and UNESCO.
He participates regularly in local and international conferences and meetings and has served on many international committees for the UN, the Commonwealth of Nations and on the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Essential Medicines (2015-16).
Kirby is regularly engaged in international arbitrations, domestic mediations and teaching law. He has been appointed as an Honorary Visiting Professor by no less than 12 universities.
The Baird Institute is truly honoured to have the Hon Justice Michael Kirby on board as our patron. His willing involvement is a true testament to the value of the life and work of Douglas Baird who was, in Kirby’s words:
“A fine citizen. A true teacher. An exemplar of all that is best in a profession of faithful service to others.”
*AC-(Companion of the Order of Australia)
CMG (Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George)
* Link to external website (will open in a new tab)