Sir Nigel Hubert BOWEN AC, KBE, QC , 1911–1994 (aged 83 years)
- Sir Nigel Hubert /BOWEN/ AC, KBE, QC
- Name prefix
- Given names
- Nigel Hubert
- Name suffix
- AC, KBE, QC
Born in a log cabin.
With the advent of World War II, he enlisted in the Australian military forces in 1941 before transferring to the 2nd AIF in 1942. He served in the South Pacific region for two years, then transferred to the reserves in 1946 with the rank of captain.
Made a Knight Commander of the British Empire.
Hansard of Australian House of Representatives of 10 October 1994:
"Mr KEATING (Blaxland-) (Prime Minister) —I move:
That the House expresses its deep regret at the death on Tuesday, 27 September 1994, of the Honourable Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen, AC, KBE, Member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Parramatta from 1964 to 1973, Attorney-General from 1966 to 1969 and in 1971, Minister for Education and Science from 1969 to 1971, Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1971 to 1972 and former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia from 1976 to 1990, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
Nigel Hubert Bowen was born on 26 May 1911 at Summerland, British Columbia. He came to Australia as a young boy, was educated at King's School, Parramatta, and studied law at St Paul's College and Sydney University. He was admitted to the New South Wales bar in 1936 and later to the Victorian bar.
With the advent of World War II, he enlisted in the Australian military forces in 1941 before transferring to the 2nd AIF in 1942. He served in the South Pacific region for two years, then transferred to the reserves in 1946 with the rank of captain. Sir Nigel resumed his legal career and took silk in 1953. He spent some time as President of the New South Wales Bar Council and from 1957 to 1960 held the post of Vice-President of the Law Council of Australia.
In 1963, Sir Nigel stood for and won the seat of Parramatta, which had been vacated by the resignation of Sir Garfield Barwick. In 1966, building on his already distinguished and successful legal career, he was appointed Attorney-General in the Holt ministry. He served in this portfolio in successive ministries until November 1969, making a brief return to the portfolio in 1971. From 1969 to 1971, he was Minister for Education and Science and from 1971 to 1972 he was foreign minister in the McMahon government. His parliamentary record shows that he also led numerous delegations on visits within Australia and overseas.
Sir Nigel left this House in 1973 to take up appointment as Chief Judge in Equity in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. This was followed by his appointment in 1976 as the first Chief Judge—later Chief Justice—of the then newly created Federal Court of Australia. He held this position with distinction until his retirement in 1990. His appointment to set up and head the new Federal Court was a particularly appropriate culmination to Sir Nigel's career, as he had long perceived the need for the establishment of a Commonwealth superior court below the High Court.
Indeed, it was Sir Nigel who as Attorney-General in 1968 first introduced a bill for the establishment of such a court. Although that bill was not proceeded with, it provided much of the foundation for the Federal Court of Australia Act that was eventually passed in 1976. In setting up the Federal Court, Sir Nigel was responsible for much of the procedural innovation for which that court is still highly regarded. He also played a significant part in developing the Federal Court's approach to the Commonwealth's administrative law jurisdiction, an area of the law in which Sir Nigel had a great interest.
As Attorney-General in 1968, Sir Nigel initiated the inquiry undertaken by the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee. That committee's report in 1971 formed the basis for the many remarkable developments in administrative law that took place later in the decade: the establishment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; the setting up of the Commonwealth Ombudsman; and the passage of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act.
A true Australian, it was also Sir Nigel who, with the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968, began the process of making the High Court the final court of appeal in Australia. Sir Nigel will also be remembered for his chairing of the Committee of Inquiry concerning Public Duty and Private Interest, which was established in February 1978 and reported in July 1979. The Bowen committee's report was an extremely thorough piece of work reflecting Sir Nigel's sound judgment which over the years has become an authoritative source for dealing with the various ethics and conflict of interest issues which parliamentarians, judicial and statutory office holders and public servants have to address from time to time.
Sir Nigel was a hardworking and dedicated man who served the Australian people well in both his legal and political careers. In recognition of his great service to Australia, he received a knighthood in 1976 and in 1988 was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia—one of Australia's highest awards—for his services to the law. I know he will be sadly missed by many people in the community, on the coalition side of politics in particular, and, of course, by his family. On behalf of the government, I extend to his wife Ermyn and family our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement."
Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen AC KBE (26 May 1911 – 27 September 1994) was an Australian politician.
Bowen was born in a log cabin in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada of Welsh and English parents. He came to Australia as a boy and was educated for two years in England and later at The King's School, Parramatta. He studied law at St. Paul's College, Sydney and the University of Sydney and then practised as a solicitor. He was admitted as a barrister in New South Wales in 1936 and later in Victoria. During World War II, he volunteered in 1941 and joined the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in 1942 and served in the South Pacific theatre for two years.
After the war, Bowen resumed his legal career, sharing chambers with Gough Whitlam, John Kerr and later Bob Ellicott. He took silk in 1953 in New South Wales and Victoria in 1954. He was president of the New South Wales bar council from 1959 to 1961 and was vice-president of the Law Council of Australia from 1957 to 1960. From 1946 to 1961, he was the editor of the Australian Law Journal.
Bowen was elected the Liberal Party of Australia member for Parramatta at a by-election in 1964, caused by the resignation of Sir Garfield Barwick to take up an appointment as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. He was appointed Attorney-General of Australia in the Second Holt Ministry in December 1966 and in 1968 he introduced a bill for the establishment of a federal court junior to the High Court of Australia. Although that bill was withdrawn, it provided the basis of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976. Bowen appointed the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee, which reported in 1971 and formed the basis for the establishment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the appointment of a Commonwealth Ombudsman and the enactment of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. He also introduced the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968, which began the process of abolishing appeals from the High Court to the Privy Council in London, culminating in the Australia Act 1986.
In November 1969, Bowen was appointed Minister for Education and Science in the Second Gorton Ministry. In the McMahon Ministry, he was Attorney-General from March to August 1971 and then Minister for Foreign Affairs until the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972. Following the election, he lost the contest for the leadership of the parliamentary Liberal Party by one vote to Billy Snedden.
In 1973, Bowen was appointed as Chief Judge in Equity in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He was appointed first Chief Judge (later Chief Justice) of the Federal Court of Australia in 1976 and held this until his retirement in 1990.
Bowen was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1976 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1988.
Hon Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen AC, KBE, QC 1911 1994 Nigel Bowen was the first Chief Justice of the Federal Court (1977-90). He was elected to the House of Representatives in June 1964 at a by-election for the seat of Parramatta held following the resignation of Sir Garfield Barwick. He was re-elected in 1966, 1969 and 1972. From 1966 to 1969 and in 1971 he was the Commonwealth Attorney-General.