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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 71


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:29): Kep Enderby had a mighty intellect and a great Labor heart. He was a humanitarian for all seasons. Born and educated in Dubbo, where his parents owned the local milk bar, he joined the RAAF in 1944 as a trainee pilot. He then went on to study law in London. An outstanding golfer, as we have heard, he competed in the 1951 British Open as an amateur, but he chose instead a career in the law over a life on the links. Kep came to Canberra as a lecturer at the Australian National University. He was quickly drawn to politics and elected as the member for the ACT in 1970. His political career was brief, but memorable. Enderby's first federal campaign was 'It's Time', and his last came amongst the acrimony and the recriminations of the Dismissal.

In February 1975 Enderby succeeded Lionel Murphy as Attorney-General after Murphy had been made a High Court judge and Kep had done some less than subtle lobbying of his Prime Minister. But despite the less than inauspicious beginning, and a Senate that was turbulent on its best day while openly hostile on the rest, Kep Enderby delivered nation-changing reforms as Attorney-General, reforms that stand the test of time and have changed the lives of thousands of Australians. No-fault divorce, the Racial Discrimination Act, decriminalising abortion in the Commonwealth territories: he swept away discriminatory laws from Canberra to Darwin, laws that laid the foundations for the modern, confident, progressive and tolerant Australia that we all are.

Kep Enderby lost his seat in the landslide of 1975, but he spent the next 40 years as a servant and an advocate of justice. For a decade he adjudicated with honour on the bench of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In retirement he remained a tireless champion of civil liberties, peace and respect for universal humanity. He even learnt the world language, Esperanto, in the hope that breaking down language barriers would help a shared understanding. To the very end, Kep Enderby was a powerful voice for many progressive causes, from the rights of prisoners through to the debate on euthanasia. Today we honour his life, his enduring faith in doing the right thing. We draw inspiration from his courage, from his conviction and from his truth and we offer our heartfelt condolences to all who loved him. May he rest in peace.

Honourable members standing in their places.

Debate adjourned.