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William Deane

At the outset, I acknowledge the traditional custodians on whose ancestral land Queensland’s first university stands.

It is now approaching eight years since I retired from the Bench. In the time since then, I have effectively ceased to be a lawyer. Consequently, I do not feel qualified to offer any really worthwhile professional advice to those of you who are setting out on legal careers.

The most I can do is to urge you to be true to your own personal principles and to the ethical standards which are essential to the proper practice and administration of law in this country. That having been said, I venture to share a few thoughts with you about the nation, which will be increasingly reliant on the leadership of people like yourselves as it passes through its third half-century.

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Directions by William Deane & Sir William Deane by Tony Stephen

February 2003, no. 248

Does Australia have a soul? I have been asked this question recently, in slightly different ways, by Russian, German, and French friends. They comprehend that Australians have an identity, but their question is about something deeper than words. About what animates us at a profound level, and which is related to our identification with the land. They say Australians demonstrate many estimable qualities, but they think that, apart from the indigenous peoples, our roots are still shallow. They think we have shed our European histories but are culturally adolescent.

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