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The Hon. Michael Kirby on the Marriage Plebiscite


The Honourable Michael Kirby – jurist, academic and former Justice of the High Court of Australia, has warned that holding a plebiscite on same-sex marriage legislation would set a dangerous precedent in this country.

Mr Kirby is a well-known advocate for Marriage Equality but his concerns regarding the use of a plebiscite extend well beyond the issue in question. They go to the heart of our democratic traditions and the institutions of government, eroding the power vested in them and creating an environment where any controversial or difficult issue can be sent to a plebiscite rather than dealt with by the parliament.

Join the Hon. Michael Kirby at the Whitlam Institute for a public conversation on the democratic implications of the ‘marriage plebiscite’.

Complimentary refreshments from 5:00pm. The talk starts at 5:30pm.

The Hon Michael Kirby looks at three former Australian Prime Ministers - Menzies, Howard and Whitlam and asks, what would they have done? Filmed at the Whitlam Institute 30 September 2016.
The Hon Michael Kirby joins the Whitlam Institute to discuss the Marriage Plebiscite. View the full address from Mr Kirby and the following question and answer component with the audience.

About the Hon. Michael Kirby
When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge.

He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he was seconded as inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84). Later, he was appointed a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, concurrently, the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. His appointment to the High Court came in 1996 and he served thirteen years.

He is as well known for his service beyond the bench having served on many national and international bodies. Amongst the latter have been service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007-) and a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights; since 2009 he has served as a member of the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) Council.

Since his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby has been active on the national and international stage including as a Commissioner of the UNAIDS Commission on Sustainable Health (2013-14) and head the Commission of Inquiry on Alleged Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2013-14).