It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of the Hon Sir Francis Gerard Brennan AC KBE GBS QC. He was 94.
From 1976 to 1979, Sir Gerard served as the AAT’s inaugural President. He played a pivotal role in the development of administrative review under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth). He was instrumental in shaping the judicial method followed by the AAT, and a firm believer that the AAT should have a normative role and work to improve administrative decision-making and refinement of policy. The decision of Re Drake and Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (No 2) (1979) laid the foundations for how the AAT undertakes merits review of government decisions. Sir Gerard, within this decision, emphasised that the AAT should not merely follow government policies wilfully, but must first ask if a decision is lawful and then determine that it does not produce injustice.
In 1976, Sir Gerard was appointed as a Judge of the Australian Industrial Court, then appointed as a Judge of the Federal Court the following year.
In 1981, he was appointed to the High Court of Australia, where he served as Chief Justice from 1995 to 1998.
Sir Gerard handed down several notable decisions, including the leading judgement in Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) (1992), which overturned the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’, the 30th anniversary of which is today.
Our thoughts are with his family.