"For the first time in the history of this country there was an aboriginal voice in the parliament and that gave me an enormous feeling of overwhelming responsibility. I made people aware, the lawmakers in this country, I made them aware of indigenous people. I think that was an achievement. "


"The test to be applied in ascertaining what are fair and reasonable conditions of remuneration of labour, under the Excise Tariff 1906, is, in the case of unskilled labourers - what are the normal needs of the average employee regarded as a human being living in a civilised community?"

HENRY, BOURNES HIGGINS - Commonwealth Arbitration Reports, 1906

"Racists are able 'utterly to disregard' the sufferings of their victims. If they are to see the evil they do, they must first find it intelligible that their victims had inner lives of the kind which enable the wrongs they suffer to go deep. "


"The more you learn about perspectives other than your own, the greater the chance you will be able to judge objectively."


"A moral crime is all the worse when it is sanctioned by law: the worst excesses of the Nazi regime were carried out under colour of the Nuremberg laws. At its best, practising law can be instrumental in achieving Justice. But there are times when to uphold the law is to betray Justice. Any society which legitimises the mistreatment of a defenceless group poses a great challenge for lawyers. We face a stark choice: we can lend ourselves to the enforcement of immoral laws, or help to resist them, and perhaps change them. "

JULIAN, BURNSIDE - Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture, Newcastle University Law School, 2004

"To recognize the equal humanity of every broken spirit of the stolen generations; to see your own child in the face of every child fretting and grieving in a detention centre, would be a terrible burden. This blindness protects the privileged."


"Without the law, you can't have society. But without the arts, you can't have civilisation"


"How can it be, in an egalitarian society, that injustice to the marginalized creates scarcely a ripple? The answer I think is found at the threshold: most Australians do not recognize the original inhabitants, the stolen generations, the faceless asylum seekers, as people: at least, not in the same sense that we are people. Their humanity is of a different order."


"This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs. "


"The history of human suffering of the indigenous people of this country cannot be assuaged by legal decisions or the opening of a purse. It can be assuaged only the opening of hearts."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Martung Upah Indigenous Conference, February 2005

"In this role my wish is to build our understanding of what it means to protect the rights and human dignity of all Australians. Upholding human rights is about looking out for each other, taking the idea of fairness seriously. And it goes to the heart of who we are as a nation."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Australian of the Year Presentation 2009

"You have to see human rights as an all-embracing concept. It could be something that would unite the world, if it could only be seen in that light."


"One brave person has to stand up, to be exposed to the limelight, go through the trauma of a sex harassment or rape case. But the force of an actual individual case can be very strong indeed, a bargaining tool, a powerful influence for change."


"I believe every woman should have the right to live in a home free of deadly weapons."


"We love, but they 'love'; we grieve, but they 'grieve'; and of course we may be dispossessed, but they are 'dispossessed'. "

RAI, GAITA - on the Mabo case

"We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of a life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within."


"A model woman according to a very prevalent conception of the character is little better than an amiable idiot; and any woman who evinces strength of mind and vigour of intellect becomes an object of derision and a butt for the feeble sarcasm of the mentally destitute of the other sex."


"There are three stages of history:
When the stars rule men, this is religion
When men rule men, this is politics;
And when men rule machines, this is anarchy..."

HARRY, HOOTON - Law and Disorder

"I have always thought that the essential foundation of fundamental human rights is love. Love for one another. Empathy for fellow human beings."

MICHAEL, KIRBY - But The Greatest of These is Love Graduation Speech, Griffith University December 2008

"I am the result of a loving upbringing in a peaceful country, with wonderful parents and siblings, a very long-term relationship, stability, support - but a feeling that life isn't always just and that there is injustice for people and we should do something about it."


"And one way to give it a stimulus is to give the courts the opportunity to respond to something over which the politicians can't wield control - that is, people who go to court and say: 'Steady on, you have ignored or you have breached a basic principle. It affects me and I believe you should be reminded of this and if possible, that the law be interpreted so that it conforms to the basic principle."

MICHAEL, KIRBY - on making the democratic process work more effectively

"Do not tamely acquiesce in what your elders say, and meekly imitate what your elders do, and unquestioningly adopt the life mapped out for you by the wisdom of your elders. "


"There are two sides to every question. I have always believed that to insist on this truth, in season and out of season, is to play one's humble part in civilising one's country. For a civilised country is a country which weighs, without heat, without passion, without violence, both sides of a question. "


"There seems to be little, if any, feeling in Australia that there are some matters which should be beyond the reach of politicians or bureaucrats."


"The stress that they're under is absolutely extreme. Indefinite detention. Not knowing when you're going to get out. The threat of being sent back to a country that you fear you're going to be murdered or tortured upon return. I mean, this is the most extreme form of stress you can possibly conjure up. And our country is doing this to these people."

PATRICK, McGORRY - on refugees in detention centres, 2000

"Globalization has gone wrong, as it has no rules. Multinationals are almost above the law. They are so huge they are bigger than governments."


"I cannot condone the systematic destruction of the hope and spirit of people who have suffered hardship and pain to reach our shores. They are people who believe that they have been or are at risk of being persecuted in their own country. "