It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of one of NSWCCL’s founding members, Kep Enderby QC, on 8 January 2015. Kep was lifelong advocate for civil liberties and an active progressive force in Australian politics for decades.
Kep had a distinguished career as lawyer and academic before being elected to the House of Representations of the Australian Parliament in 1970. He held a range of ministerial positions in the Whitlam Government from 1972 before becoming Attorney-General of Australia in 1975.
In Canberra he worked tirelessly for progressive law reform. He decriminalised abortion and homosexuality in the ACT, as well as introducing legal aid and the Racial Discrimination Act. Family law was another active area for Kep, where he implemented no-fault divorce laws and established the Family Court of Australia.
Following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government Kep returned to practice as a Barrister in Sydney, a Queen’s Counsel since 1973. In 1982 he was appointed a Justice of the NSW Supreme Court.
He also served a five-year term as head of the NSW Serious Offenders Review Council, taking a critical stance on the number of prisoners behind bars. He warned against letting public hysteria about crime lead to rising incarceration rates. He was outspoken about prison reform and prisoners being wrongly kept in jail after their non-parole periods expired.
A co-founder of NSWCCL, in his own words Kep was always "a fighter for human rights and human liberties" (article here). He was active with the late Ken Buckley in the early years of the CCL and was Vice-President for a number of years. He became active on the CCL committee again after his retirement and was engaged in a number of campaigns including opposition to mandatory sentencing and euthanasia. Kep was always present and engaged in NSWCCL social events and dinners until recently.
In addition, he was a staunch advocate for the freedom of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and refugees, publicly criticising the Rudd government’s policies in these regards.
NSWCCL Legal Panel Convenor Malcolm Ramage QC says: "Kep was a great civil libertarian with a highly developed nose for injustice, compassionate, and always aware of government encroachments on civil liberties."
We know our members and supporters will join with CCL Executives and Committee in offering condolences to Kep’s family.