Golden Jubilee of the Academy: with memories of Dooley, Oscar, Bill and other supreme Individualists

NSW – 50th Anniversary Plenary Session
Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Hon Michael Kirby AC, CMG, FAAFS,
Onetime President of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences

In these remarks, Michael Kirby, past president of the Academy and former Justice of the High Court of Australia will reflect on the original and unusual intellectual work of the Academy over the past 50 years and some of the memorable characters who have inspired its scientific sessions since its creation. The Academy has always been willing to take on difficult, controversial and often curious topics. For much of its existence this inclination was, in part, the product of the quirky intelligence of its longtime Secretary General, Dr Oscar Schmalzbach. He never hesitated to take on controversies and indeed he revelled in them. Sometimes, they appeared to be ill-conceived and politically incorrect. However, occasionally they proved forward-looking and imaginative, going down pathways that greater prudence and dignity might have denied. One such pathway concerned the problem of dealing with heads of government/state who turn out to be mad or bad. When Oscar proposed a serious examination of this subject, some Fellows were dubious. But perhaps he was simply looking forward to an age in which Donald J Trump and Kim Jong un had their fingers on the nuclear buttons and held in their hands the survival of the human species. The speaker will propose the toast to the Academy, suggesting that its future lies in challenging orthodoxy and encouraging good science and multidisciplinary discourse.