Laurence Street

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Sir Laurence Whistler Street

Commodore Sir Laurence Whistler Street.png
14th Chief Justice of New South Wales
In office
28 June 1974 – 1 November 1988
Appointed byElizabeth II
Preceded bySir John Kerr
Succeeded byMurray Gleeson
Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales
In office
1 July 1974 – 24 July 1989
Preceded bySir Leslie Herron
Succeeded byMurray Gleeson
Personal details
Born(1926-07-03)3 July 1926
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died21 June 2018(2018-06-21) (aged 91)
NationalityAustralian
MotherLady Jessie Street
FatherSir Kenneth Whistler Street
RelativesStreet family
Alma materSydney Law School
Military service
AllegianceCommonwealth of Australia
Service/branchRoyal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Naval Reserve
RankCommodore
Battles/warsWorld War II

Commodore Sir Laurence Whistler Street, AC, KCMG, KStJ, QC (3 July 1926 – 21 June 2018) was an Australian jurist; formerly the fourteenth and second youngest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales.[1] He was the third consecutive generation of his family to have served New South Wales in these offices; the only such case in Australian history.[2]

Following retirement from the judiciary at age 62, Street became renowned as a pioneer of alternative dispute resolution, notably conducting the first mediation over the return to Australia of Aboriginal Australian human remains held by the National History Museum in London.[3] Among a range of other offices, he served as Chairman of Fairfax Media and Director of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world. A veteran of World War II, he was a Commander of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve for most of his career and was made an honorary Commodore in his final years.[4]

Early life[edit]

Street was born in Sydney, Australia, the son of Sir Kenneth Whistler Street and Jessie, Lady Street. He attended the Cranbrook School in Bellevue Hill. At age 17, he lied about his age to serve with the Royal Australian Navy and fight in World War II. Returning from the war, he studied law at Sydney Law School. Street became a barrister at the New South Wales Bar in 1951. As a barrister, he practised extensively in equity, commercial law and maritime law.

Juridicial career[edit]

In 1965, he was appointed as a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court in the Equity Division.[5] In 1974, at age 47, Street became the state's second youngest Chief Justice (Sir Alfred Stephen was 42 when appointed Chief Justice in 1844).[6] In 1976 he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.[7] He retired in 1988[5] and was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia in 1989.[8]

Later years[edit]

From 1989, he worked as a commercial mediator and an alternative dispute resolution consultant. This work included 1,500 mediations, mainly involving major commercial disputes.[5] In 2007 he branched out into criminal law, heading a review of a decision by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecution in the Chris Hurley case.[9]

In 2007, he upheld his mother's legacy of support for Aboriginal Australians by conducting the first mediation over the return to Australia of Aboriginal Australian human remains held by the National History Museum in London. In early 2008 he chaired an Inquiry which led to an agreed procedural protocol between the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Commonwealth Director of Prosecutions governing the investigation and prosecution of terrorist activities.

In 2008, he chaired an in-depth Inquiry established by the Chief of Defence into the Defence Force Disciplinary System. He has carried out a number of other public assignments including the Inquiry for the Queensland Government into the Palm Island aboriginal death in custody (2008), senior probity auditor for the Defence Department on the $8 billion air warfare destroyer project (2005), and senior probity auditor for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the Immigration Detention facilities project (2007).

In recent years, he was a Director and later Chairman of Fairfax Media and a Director of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world. He also held office as Australian and World President of the International Law Association, London of which he was a life Vice President.

He was a member of several professional organisations, including an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Building.[10] and an Honorary Member of the Society of Construction Law Australia. He was a patron of the Jessie Street National Women’s Library and the Jessie Street Trust, both created in memory of his mother.

Family[edit]

Street's father Sir Kenneth Whistler Street was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales between 1950 and 1960, as was his grandfather Sir Philip Whistler Street.[11] Street's mother Lady "Red Jessie" Street was known for her extensive campaigning for human rights, particularly women's rights and Australian Aboriginal rights. She "masterminded the formation of the Aboriginal Rights Organisation, which led to the successful referendum held in 1967".[12] Jessie was daughter of Mabel Harriet, daughter of Edward David Stewart Ogilvie, a New South Wales politician and businessman, and Charles Alfred Gordon Lillingston.[13]

Street's sister Philippa married the Australian Test cricketer and journalist Jack Fingleton.[14] Street's first wife was Susan Gai Watt, the first female Chair of the East Sydney health service (now amalgamated with Illawarra) and the granddaughter of Australian politician John Brown Watt. By Susan, Street had four children: Kenneth, Sylvia, Alexander and Sarah. By his second wife Penelope, he had one daughter, Jessie, who is god-daughter to Prince Charles of Wales.[15] All three of Sir Laurence's daughters are Sydney Law School graduates, as he was. His son Sandy Street is a Federal Circuit Court Judge and a Commander in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.[16] His daughter, Justice Sylvia Emmett, is a Federal Circuit Court Judge, a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and the spouse of Arthur Emmett, a fellow Federal Circuit Court Judge and Challis Lecturer in Roman Law at Sydney Law School.[17]

Further details[edit]

Street once said: "I've never felt constrained in my private life by the cast-iron requirements of society. I got divorced, I remarried, and had a second family of one. I have led a life that has not necessarily always conformed to the strict Victorian standards".[18] Street died on the night of 21 June 2018.[19]

Sir Laurence was buried with a state funeral at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall in July 2018.[20] Sir Laurence's wife Lady Penny Street recalled her husband's love of the bush, music, literature and horses. His son Justice Alexander Street recounted: "Laurence knew the importance of the art of storytelling in building the fabric of society and virtues of self-worth, family, community and patriotism [...] The bushie tried to fatten weaners and sell them as forward stores in good seasons. We lost nearly all of the beloved horses in the bushfires of 1979 […] Like most bushies, he battled droughts, fires, floods and would tell us round the campfire about the stars in the Milky Way and night sky navigation […] A great lion has fallen. On behalf of my siblings, Sylvia, Ken, Sarah, Jessie and I, forever and ever, love father, hail and farewell."[21]

In an elegy before 700, incumbent Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke of his mentor: "As a barrister, he was as eloquent as he was erudite, as formidable as he was fashionable […] Laurence had movie star good looks coupled with a charisma, charm and intellect, a humility, a humanity that swept all before him […] His nickname, Lorenzo the Magnificent, was well earned." The Prime Minister recalled how Sir Laurence had provided a reference for him to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford. Incumbent Australian Attorney General Mark Speakman hailed Sir Laurence as "a giant of the law in NSW".[22] Incumbent Chief Justice of Australia Tom Bathurst remembered Sir Laurence as "one of the outstanding jurists of the 20th Century."[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sir Alfred Stephen, 3rd Chief Justice of NSW, 1844 to 1873 Archived 23 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Sun-Herald (Sydney), 20 Feb 1972.
  3. ^ Who's Who Legal
  4. ^ Accredited Biography
  5. ^ a b c The Honourable Sir Lawrence Street, Sir Lawrence Street, 2003 Archived 19 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Sir Alfred Stephen, 3rd Chief Justice of NSW, 1844 to 1873 Archived 23 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ It's an Honour: KCMG
  8. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  9. ^ Aboriginal leaders applaud Mulrunji review appointment, ABC News Online, 4 January 2007 Archived 30 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ www.aib.org.au, AIB List of Honorary Members, 19 March 2006 Archived 6 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Bennett, J. M. (2002). Street, Sir Kenneth Whistler (1890–1972). Australian Dictionary of Biography. 16. Melbourne University Press. p. 332.
  12. ^ Papers of Jessie Street (1889–1970), National Library of Australia, 4 December 2006
  13. ^ National Archives of Australia
  14. ^ Growden, Greg (2008). Jack Fingleton: the man who stood up to Bradman. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. pp. 136–152. ISBN 978-1-74175-548-0.
  15. ^ https://www.smh.com.au/national/sir-laurence-street-the-very-model-of-a-modern-chief-justice-20180622-p4zn3f.html
  16. ^ "Judge Sandy Street". Judges and Senior Staff. Federal Circuit Court of Australia. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Judge Sylvia Emmett". Judges and Senior Staff. Federal Circuit Court of Australia. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  18. ^ Steve Dow, Journalist
  19. ^ Maddox, Garry (2018-06-22). "Sir Laurence Street remembered as an outstanding legal figure". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  20. ^ https://www.afr.com/business/legal/sir-laurence-street-remembered-as-an-outstanding-jurist-20161013-gs1uzk
  21. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-05/sir-laurence-street-remembered-in-state-funeral/9942930
  22. ^ https://www.afr.com/business/legal/sir-laurence-street-remembered-as-a-man-for-all-seasons-20180705-h12at2
  23. ^ https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/prime-minister-leads-tributes-at-state-funeral-for-former-chief-justice/news-story/9ee9bc39345ca285b6329895c7c7eb7d?memtype=anonymous

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir John Kerr
Chief Justice of New South Wales
1974–1988
Succeeded by
Murray Gleeson
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Leslie Herron
Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales
1974–1989
Succeeded by
Murray Gleeson