The Hon Jeffrey W Shaw, QC BA (1971), LLB (1974)

11 May 2010

Photo: courtesy of The Sunday Telegraph

The Sydney Law School would like to express its condolences to the family and friends of The Hon Jeffrey W Shaw, QC BA (1971), LLB (1974) following his passing this morning.

His family and colleagues released this statement:

New South Wales today lost one of its finest legal minds and most effective reformist legislators, the friends and colleagues of former Supreme Court Judge and NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw said today.
Jeff Shaw died early this morning, aged 60 from complications arising from pneumonia.
Jeff Shaw served as Attorney General between 1995 and 2000 and served as a Supreme Court Judge between 2003 and 2004.
Jeff Shaws legislative legacy covers nearly aspect of life in NSW, including:

  • fair workplace laws via the NSW Industrial Relations Act
  • strengthening NSW workplace safety laws
  • enacting gender pay equity laws
  • reforming asbestos compensation law to end the inhuman practise of death-bed hearings
  • introducing ground-breaking gay law reform
  • pioneering youth conferencing in the criminal law
  • strengthening anti-domestic violence laws,
  • introducing shield laws for journalists when all other States opposed them
  • strengthening anti-discrimination laws, banning discrimination against transgender people.
  • and championing drug law reform and legal aid.

Jeff Shaw was an activist Attorney General who remained true to his principles throughout his political and legal life.
Prior to his political career he was a respected barrister, a QC, who fought some of the nation's most significant industrial cases, arguing cases at all levels including the High Court and was one of the last Australian lawyers to argue in the Privy Council.
Jeff was a contributor to legal journals and an inveterate reviewer of books on Labour history and industrial relations.
As a politician, Jeff was unique. He was an old fashioned, Whitlamesque type of politician, he said, his agenda was change.
He wanted to do things - the right things - not be popular. In the end, he achieved both, contributing much to the legal, industrial and social fabric of NSW, but at great personal cost.
He wasn't there when Gough Whitlam, in a speech delivered at NSW Parliament House, declared him the best Attorney General in Australian history. He was working.
For those who didn't know Jeff personally, this is what he was like. Brilliant but totally self-effacing. Committed and loyal, unusually again for politics, he stood by his staff, and didn't succumb to careless political expediency.
He had a great sense of humour and of fun. He laughed at jokes at his own expense, and made them too.
He will be missed by all who worked with him and were inspired by him.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 251d4e1d4f025b300123083620584125070b25292e167a502c246d3346