Board of Enquiry

The Caretaker Management Team is pleased to be able to announce that Mr Ian Callinan AC QC, a former Justice of the High Court of Australia has agreed to Chair the Board of Enquiry regarding the current issues involving RSL NSW State Branch.

Mr Ian Callinan AC QC

Ian David Francis Callinan AC QC (born 1 September 1937) is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy.

Pre-judicial career

Callinan was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1960 and a barrister in 1965. He was appointed as a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1978. He was President of the Queensland Bar Association between 1984 and 1987 and President of the Australian Bar Association between 1984 and 1985.

He advised the then Deputy Premier of Queensland, Bill Gunn to establish an inquiry into police corruption following the broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Four Corners program of a report entitled "The Moonlight State" which detailed extensive police corruption. He subsequently appeared for the Queensland Government in the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct, more usually known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

Callinan was particularly noted for his work in defamation cases. He successfully defended what was then the longest civil jury trial in Australian legal history, when he appeared as leading counsel for Channel 9 in a 13-week defamation trial, in which Sir Leslie Thiess sought damages from Channel 9 following a report broadcast on that network that he had bribed the Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Judicial activity

He was appointed as a Justice of the High Court in February 1998. He remained a Justice of the High Court until 1 September 2007, when he was compelled to retire under the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901 (Cth) s 72 provision which requires all Federal judges to retire upon attaining theage of 70. He was replaced by fellow Queenslander Susan Kiefel.

He is considered a strong defender of federalism. His judgements show a willingness to innovate in common law areas (for example in, tort and contract law cases), but a strong reluctance to depart from the original intent of the Constitution.

In constitutional cases Callinan expressed a clear preference for a restrained interpretation of the Constitution and for significant developments to be by way of referendum rather than judicial decision. That view was most trenchantly expressed in his lengthy dissent in New South Wales v Commonwealth, a case concerned with the constitutional validity of the Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation. Callinan's judgement in that case is the longest in the history of the High Court, containing approximately 55,000 words and running for 165 pages.

Post-judicial activities

Government inquiries

Immediately upon his retirement from the High Court, Callinan was called back into public service through his appointment to conduct a Commission of Inquiry into the outbreak of equine influenza in Australia. His report was handed down in April 2008 and on 12 June 2008 the Commonwealth Government responded to the report, accepting all 38 of its recommendations and putting in place an implementation program.

On 11 October 2012, he was appointed by the Queensland Attorney-General to conduct a review of the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

On 20 August 2013, Callinan released a report commissioned by the Victorian Minister for Corrections and Minister for Crime Prevention, Edward O'Donohue, on the state of the parole system in Victoria. The report stated that the parole board frequently put the rights of prisoners ahead of community safety when issuing parole.

In March 2015, the New Zealand Government chose Callinan to review once again David Bain's claims for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment after rejecting an earlier report by Canadian judge Ian Binnie. On 26 January 2016, Callinan's report was delivered to New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams and on 2 August 2016, Ms Adams formally announced that his finding was that Bain did not meet the threshold of "innocent on the balance of probabilities".

Private arbitrations and mediations

Since leaving the High Court bench, Callinan has been appointed to arbitrate and mediate many disputes, including arbitrating claims by customers of the Commonwealth Bank arising out of the collapse of Storm Financial, mediating a dispute between a rebel Catholic parish and the Archbishop of Brisbane, mediating sexual assault claims involving the Catholic diocese of Toowoomba and acting as global mediator of claims arising out of the collapse of the Westpoint Corporation.

In July 2014 he was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Independent Review Panel for its Open Advice Review Program (OARP). The OARP was established by the Commonwealth Bank following a Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into ASIC's performance. The other Panel members are the Hon. Julie Dodds-Streeton and the Hon. Geoffrey Davies AO.


In 2003, Justice Callinan was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his services to the law, arts and the community. He received the Centenary Medal in 2001 for his service as a Justice of the High Court of Australia. Justice Callinan is also a life member of the Queensland Bar Association and of the Australian Bar Association and an honorary Fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators in Australia.