Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby has paid tribute to Gough Whitlam for his commitment to proving Australia could be a participant in international forces.
Kirby's Lecture, "Whitlam as Internationalist" delivered at the University of Western Sydney's Whitlam Institute for the 2010 Whitlam Lecture last week, explored how Australia became further engaged in international treaty law under the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975.
Kirby said that Whitlam's contribution was significant, and noted that one of the greatest changes in the law during his lifetime has been the increased impact of international law on Australian domestic law - including international human rights.
"A world of princes and empires has been replaced by a world of trade and shared commitments, however imperfectly these commitments are yet fulfilled," he said.
Kirby added that Whitlam had been a child of such changes. "But he has also contributed to them. He has been in sympathy with them. And he has helped to shape Australia's responses to them," said Kirby.
"He did not alone fashion Australia's adjustment to the new age. But his contribution was very great, as I shall show."