Vale Lew Wyvill

The first march from the University of Queensland on 12 September 1977
after Bjelke Petersen banned street marches. Inset is a picket against uranium export at Hamilton No 4 wharf in Brisbane in the month leading up to the suspension of democratic rights on 4th Sept 1977. Mark Oliver Plunkett who brought charges against Bjelke-Petersen is in the foreground holding camera gear.

On the 29th February the Qld Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL) marked the passing of its former President Lew Wyvill QC who fought for civil liberties, social justice and the environment. Lew was a member of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody 1988-1991. Lew investigated the death in custody of Daniel Yock finding no intent by police to kill this young 18 year old aboriginal man. Many (myself included) disagreed with his findings and marched to stop similar deaths.

Lew Wyvill 1926 – 2020

I remember Lew Wyvill as a kindly advocate who helped Mark Plunkett bring charges against Bjelke-Petersen after a student was bashed by police Inspector Mark Beattie. The courts dismissed the charges and Bjelke-Petersen changed the law so private complaints could not be brought against Ministers of the Crown.

The story is re-told by the woman who was bashed in Student Marcher, first published in Bjelke Blues stories of repression and resistance in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland 1968 – 1987 edited by Edwina Shaw.

Lew gave me some advice when Bjelke-Petersen’s police brought charges against me. I recollect a time when I had been re-fused bail and the public defender, William ‘Wild Bill’ O’Connor went to the Supreme Court to have the judge overuled and see me released from jail.

Lew Wyvill and others like him came from that generation that served in World War II who came back from war with higher expectations of civil society. Lew joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944, saw no active service outside Australia but had friends who did. It is not romance to say they looked after each other after the war.

Condolences to his family and friends.

Ian Curr
3 March 2020

A Student Marcher

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