Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Trevor Russell Hartigan (1940–1990)

by Doug Drummond

This article was published:

Trevor Russell Hartigan (1940-1990), barrister and judge, was born on 20 February 1940 at Greenslopes, Brisbane, son of Queensland-born parents Reginald Russel Hartigan, electrician, and his wife Enone Elizabeth, née Short. Educated at St Laurence’s (Christian Brothers’) College, South Brisbane, and at the University of Queensland (LL B, 1965), Trevor was admitted to the Bar on 15 December 1965. At the Catholic Church of St Peter and St Paul, Bulimba, on 23 August 1967 he married Marie Theresa Conlon, a bank officer.

In 1966 Hartigan had set up a private practice in Brisbane that developed to include trial and appellate work in criminal, civil, industrial and administrative law. He took silk on 23 November 1981. Active in the Bar Association of Queensland, he served as a member of its committee (1979-84) and as vice-president (1984-87) before being elected president in 1987. He had considerable skills in Bar politics: a more prominent silk had quickly abandoned his challenge to Hartigan for the presidency and stood as vice-president, on a joint ticket with him. Hartigan was also chairman (1985-87) of the Barristers’ Board of Queensland. With (Sir) Gerard Brennan and then F. N. Albietz, he co-authored three editions of An Outline of the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace in Queensland (1967-87).

On 13 August 1987 Hartigan was appointed president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and a judge of the Federal Court. He oversaw the relocation in 1989 of the tribunal’s principal registry from Canberra to Brisbane. This decentralisation of Commonwealth administrative power beyond Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne provoked controversy—generated in part by Hartigan’s residence in Brisbane and, in part, by Sydney, a busier registry, being passed over—but the attorney-general Lionel Bowen insisted that administrative efficiency required the move from Canberra and that cheaper accommodation costs justified choosing Brisbane over Sydney. At the time of Hartigan’s appointment a large expansion in the tribunal’s workload had occurred, due, in part, to the transfer to it of some seventy-five thousand tax cases following the abolition of the taxation boards of review in mid-1986. Working with a reduced staff, he supervised a system that, by early 1989, had halved this tax backlog while dealing efficiently with the general work of the tribunal.

Dignified in dress and manner, and precise in his enunciation, Hartigan was solidly built but not tall. He was a practising Catholic and an Australian Labor Party supporter. A good citizen, he gave conscientious service to a number of Queensland organisations, not all of which, in the Bjelke-Petersen era, attracted ambitious barristers. He served on various professional, church and other bodies, including two involved with homeless and unemployed youth, and on the committee of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, of which he was a founding member and, later, secretary for five years.

His career cut short by cancer, Hartigan was unable to show the full extent of his leadership and administrative skills. He died of a melanoma on 24 April 1990 in Royal Brisbane Hospital and was buried in Nudgee cemetery. His wife and their two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Senate), 4 Apr 1989, p 907
  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Annual Report, 1989-90
  • Australian Law Journal, vol 64, no 7, 1990, p 446
  • Queensland Bar News, June 1990, p 9
  • Bar Association of Queensland records
  • private information.

Citation details

Doug Drummond, 'Hartigan, Trevor Russell (1940–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 19 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


20 February, 1940
Greenslopes, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


24 April, 1990 (aged 50)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.