This is the first comprehensive biography of Sir Gerard Brennan, who is best known for his judgment in the Mabo case. It highlights the significant role Brennan played in the development of Australian law and in society more broadly. It traces his family background and life, education, and early career in Queensland before turning to the roles for which he is best known – inaugural president of the AAT, judge of the Federal Court and High Court, and finally, Chief Justice of Australia. It provides detailed analysis of Brennan’s most significant judgments and compares his reasoning with that of other members of the court. In so doing, it provides valuable insight into his judicial methodology. The book explores how Brennan dealt with the sometimes competing demands of the strict application of legal precedent, and of the need to do justice in a changing social context.
The book also considers the way he sought to balance the compelling demands of his judicial duties and those he saw inherent in both his family responsibilities and his Catholic faith. The portrait which emerges does justice to Brennan the man, as well as Brennan the judge.
As Registrar at UTS, the author worked closely with Brennan during the period he was Chancellor. He interviewed Brennan extensively, was given access to personal documents, and interviewed more than sixty of Brennan’s colleagues, associates, family members and friends. The resulting book is an important historical record of the life and times of a great Australian and will give readers a deeper understanding of the inner dynamics of the Australian court system.