Sir William Deane


Sir William Deane opens the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

This statement was prepared by Sir William Deane, Queens Counsel, former Judge of the Federal and High Courts of Australia, Companion of the Order of Australia and the 22nd Australian Governor-General for the Mornington Peninsula Peace Vigil, October 2001.

We Australians, directly or indirectly, come from all the regions, cultures, races and religions of the world. Our greatest achievement is the multiculturalism which has enabled us to make our diversity of origins and backgrounds a source of national strength and national unity. The essence of that multiculturalism is mutual respect and acceptance.

Those qualities also lie at the heart of true Peace. We must be vigilant to safeguard them.

In recent weeks, decent people everywhere have been outraged by the terrorist murders of the 11th September in the United States and have become rightly determined to join in crushing the evil of terrorism. It would, however, be a great tragedy for us all if the terrible events of that September day and the natural anger and apprehension which they have aroused were allowed to undermine either our commitment to true Peace or our loyalty to the qualities of mutual respect and acceptance which sustain our multicultural Australian nation.



Sir William Deane graduated in Arts and Law from the University of Sydney before attending The Hague Academy of International Law. Called to the Sydney Bar in 1957, Deane was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1966. A former Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Deane was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia and President of the Australian Trade Practices Tribunal before replacing Sir Ninian Stephen as a Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1982. During 14 years on the High Court bench, Deane presided over the 1983 Franklin River case and the landmark Mabo case of 1992. Deane was sworn in as the 22nd Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia in February 1996, a position he held until February 2001. As Governor General, Deane became increasingly outspoken on social issues, voicing his desire to see meaningful reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Deane actively supported racial tolerance and a multicultural Australia.