Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 September 2007) . . Page.. 2655 ..
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Death of Justice Terry Connolly
Motion of condolence
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts): I move:
That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Justice Terry Connolly, ACT Supreme Court Judge, former member of the Legislative Assembly and former Attorney-General for the ACT, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.
Mr Speaker, Justice Terry Connolly was a man whose too brief a career encompassed the spectrum of the administration of justice and who sat variously on both sides of that profound gulf that we call the separation of powers. He had seen the complexities of justice from every angle: from the perspective of an advocate, from the point of view of a policy maker and politician, and from the bench. But Terry Connolly was more than this. To his wife, Helen, and his daughters, Lara and Maddy, he was a husband and father taken too soon, far too unfairly—if there ever was such a thing as justice in the world beyond the kind of justice dealt out by man.
Each of us, today, will have memories of Terry Connolly—the man, the politician, the friend and the jurist—to relate. But common to each will be the image of a man with a sense of justice who was at once acute, and yet profoundly deep; realistic, yet rigorous. Each of us, including those in the visitors gallery today, has almost certainly been inspired by Terry Connolly too, professionally or personally. Even if we might have argued with the legal position he took, or a legal conclusion he drew over the course of his precocious and stellar career, we knew that his position was heartfelt, intelligently argued and based on conviction and study and contemplation.
I, as Attorney-General in 2004, had the honour of completing the work begun by Terry Connolly in 1995 when he, as Attorney-General, made the first bold attempt to give this territory a Bill of Rights. While there is an elegant symmetry in the fact, I am sure that none of us could have imagined even with the passage of the Human Rights Act 2004, let alone back in 1995, during that initial attempt that the first statutory Human Rights Commissioner of this territory would turn out to be Terry Connolly’s wife, Dr Helen Watchirs.
In pursuing a Bill of Rights, almost a decade before one became politically possible anywhere in this country, Terry Connolly was displaying the courage and unswerving commitment to righteousness and to justice that broke through political barriers and enabled him to persuade even those who, in this place, played a role of enemy combatant to somehow play nicely.