Passing of the Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE QC

Media release
29 Oct 2017
Prime Minister

Australia has lost a great statesman; Sir Ninian Stephen has died, aged 94.

A former Governor-General, Justice of the High Court of Australia, and Australian infantryman, Sir Ninian’s long and highly distinguished career was dedicated to the service of the Australian public.

Moving to Australia at age 17, he studied to become a lawyer at the University of Melbourne, before joining the Australian Imperial Force in the Second World War.

Sir Ninian served as Governor-General from 1982 to 1989, bringing a gentle dignity to the role and representing the very best of Australia while encouraging the very best from all Australians.

There are very few honours that Sir Ninian doesn’t have to his name—he’s been knighted five times, was a Justice of the High Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria, member of the Privy Council and Australian Ambassador for the Environment.

Internationally, he will be remembered for his work on the Northern Ireland peace talks and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, among other sensitive diplomatic and legal assignments.

Australia will remember Sir Ninian for his humility, his intellect, and his lifelong commitment to justice and the rule of law.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia, I send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Lady Stephen and their family at this sad time.

Sir Ninian’s family has accepted my offer of a State Funeral.