The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG delivered the 2018 Archbishop Sir James Duhig Memorial Lecture. Invited guests returned to the College for dinner thereafter.
It was a busy day for Justice Kirby. At his suggestion, he arrived early at St Leo’s and received Year 12 students from fourteen local Brisbane schools. They included nearby Indooroopilly High and Ironside State School, but amongst others from Toowoomba Grammar, All Hallows and St Joseph’s Nudgee College.
At his retirement after thirteen years on the High Court, Justice Kirby was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead an enquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea. The first of the two lectures considered North Korea and its ongoing human rights violations. It was framed by a history lesson about the links between the reach of the nuclear blasts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II and the tragedy that is unfolding in the Kim dynasty today.
In turn he considered four points of the “deal” struck by President Trump with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore in June. Justice Kirby unpacked the strengths of the commitment the President was able to extract. At the heart of Justice Kirby’s concern is a need for respect and inclusion and acceptance of diversity. He noted how life for the people in North Korea is a sickly and pale impression of the rights and privileges enjoyed by most citizens in western countries.
After being mobbed by students and teachers alike, Justice Kirby walked with the Head of College to the GHD Advanced Engineering Building’s main auditorium where he delivered the 2018 Duhig, explaining the great virtues of James the Builder and the huge contribution of Archbishop Duhig to the state of Queensland, the city of Brisbane and the University of Queensland.
From this consideration of Duhig, Justice Kirby segued into a consideration of LGBTIQ rights and the Catholic Church. He lit upon this issue from the vantage of the light that Pope Francis has shone upon the importance of loving all of God’s children. He spoke about his upbringing in the Anglican tradition and the underlying humanity in all faiths. At the heart of both of Justice Kirby’s lectures was a message of the importance of giving people respect and dignity. Above all else, ensuring your starting point is one of kindness and inclusion; and to be sure to always thank your teachers.
St Leo’s was delighted and honoured to have Michael Kirby deliver the 2018 Duhig. He joins a pantheon of distinguished Australians. Amongst them prime-ministers, playwrights, other high court judges, diplomats and rock ‘n roll lead singers.
Following the lecture Justice Kirby hopped on a plane back to Canberra. Invited guests headed back to St Leo’s for dinner.
Dominus Illuminatio Mea.
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