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The Hon. Mary Gaudron QC
, 2006

by Sally Robinson

acrylic on canvas (frame: 137.0 x 122.0 cm)

Mary Gaudron (b. 1943) was the first female Justice of the High Court of Australia. The daughter of a train driver, she was born in Moree, New South Wales and went to high school in Armidale before winning a scholarship to the University of Sydney in 1960. By 1965, she had married, had her first child and graduated from law school winning the University Medal. She was admitted to the heavily male-dominated New South Wales Bar in 1968. Through the 1970s, Gaudron established an exceptional professional reputation focussing on industrial and defamation laws and appearing frequently in significant cases before the High Court. In 1981, she became the first woman in any Australian state to be appointed Solicitor General. The Australian Law Journal noted her ‘outstanding and ingenious’ advocacy. As a High Court Justice from 1987, Gaudron was among the majority in the landmark Mabo (1992) and Wik (1996) cases that recognised Indigenous land rights. She contributed to many significant decisions on free speech, natural justice, discrimination, criminal procedure, judicial power and procedural fairness. The fundamental principle of ‘equal treatment’ underpinned many of her judgments. Retiring from the High court in 2003, Gaudron served on the International Labor Organisation’s Administration Tribunal in Geneva to until 2014.

Collection: NSW Bar Association, Sydney
Accession number: LOAN2016.53