Vale - The Hon. Dr Raymond Moyle Northrop QC


Bar Roll No: 474 

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death of the Hon. Dr Raymond Moyle Northrop QC on 31 December 2021.  He was 96. 

Ray, as he was known, was born in 1925 in New Britain, Papua New Guinea. He came to Australia two years later. He was educated at Melbourne High School and was a life member of the school’s old boys’ association. In January 1943, after finishing school, Ray joined the Royal Australian Navy. He served as a seaman on the Tribal Class destroyer, HMAS Arunta from March 1943 until September 1945, seeing active service in the south-west Pacific, New Guinea, the Philippines and Borneo. 

On completion of his naval service, Ray studied Law at Melbourne University, graduating LLB with honours in 1949 and LLM in 1950. Ray was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria on 2 April 1951. He signed the Bar Roll on 1 February 1952, reading with The Hon. Clifford J Menhennitt.  Initially Ray had a general practice however ultimately specialised in industrial law.  He had one reader James Hall.  Ray was appointed Queen’s Counsel in Victoria on 4 November 1970 and in New South Wales in 1974. Ray was a founding member of Hyland’s List.

Ray began his long and distinguished career in public service in 1972 when he was appointed as Chairman of the Stevedoring Industry, a position he held for 4 years. In 1976 he was appointed as a judge of the Australian Industrial Court and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.  From 1976-1977 Ray was president of the Trade Practices Tribunal. 

In 1977 Ray was appointed as a judge of the newly formed Federal Court of Australia.  Between 1994-95, Ray served as a judge in the Industrial Relations Court of Australia and from 1990 to 1995 he was President of the Defence Forces Discipline Appeal Tribunal.  Ray retired from the Federal Court of Australia, and as the last remaining judge of the Australian Industrial Court, in August 1998, after 22 years of distinguished service. 

Ray was a member of the Standing Committee of Convocation of the University of Melbourne between 1965 and 1975, serving as the Warden of Convocation of between 1972 and 1975. He was a member of the University of Melbourne Council between 1975 and 1993, President of Graduates in 1975 and Deputy Chancellor from 1985 to 1993.  In 1995 the University of Melbourne conferred on Ray the degree of doctor of laws, honaris causa, for the long and distinguished service to the community, particularly in the fields of law and education.

Away from the law, Ray was a well-respected member of the Presbyterian Church, serving as procurator from 1974-1976. His time as procurator coincided with the complex amalgamation of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches to become the Uniting Church in Australia. Ray continued to his active involvement in the Uniting Church. Ray was a member of the Presbyterian Ladies College Council between 1968 and 1980, the last eight years as Chairman during a difficult transitional period for the school. Ray also served as president of the board of directors of Austin Research Institute from 1992 until 1998.  

Ray was admired and respected by his many friends and colleagues at the Bar. For many years he and a group of barristers and judges enjoyed regular lunches at the RACV Club in Queens Street each Friday. 

After his retirement from public life, Ray actively resumed his interest in Naval matters and the welfare of former shipmates. He became a member of the Naval Historical Society and was for a time President of the HMAS Arunta association. He was the leader of the ANZAC Day March in 2012. 

Ray is survived by his five children Merinda, Nerida, Christopher, Rohan and James, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.  His wife of over 50 years, Joan, died in 2008.

Ray’s funeral is to be held at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, 12 January 2022 at Toorak Uniting Church and will be livestreamed. 

Dated: 5 January 2022

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