The late Justice Lionel Murphy QC BSc LLB made a significant contribution to the development of Australian Law, to the development of the Australian political process, and to social reform. He devoted his career in public life to the achievement of a more just and compassionate society.
The Lionel Murphy Foundation was established after his death in 1986 to provide a permanent institution to honour the unique contribution to public life in Australia of the Honourable Lionel Keith Murphy BSc, LLB.
The principal object of the Lionel Murphy Foundation is to provide postgraduate scholarship opportunities for the study of law and/or science, or other disciplines where there is opportunity for some common good in Australia or overseas.
Apart from providing postgraduate scholarships, the Foundation annually conducts the Lionel Murphy Memorial Lectures, which provide a forum for stimulating public consideration of some contemporary, and often controversial, subject.
The Commonwealth Government made an initial government grant of $250,000 to the Lionel Murphy Foundation in 1987-88, with an undertaking to provide further annual grants of $100,000 for each of the nine (9) subsequent years. The Foundation received eight of those annual grants under the Commonwealth Labor Government, a gesture which was very much appreciated. However, in 1996 the newly elected Howard Coalition Government withheld the final grant. Representations to them for the restoration of the grant were unsuccessful, despite grants being made to other foundations and centres.
In 1987 the New South Wales Government gave the Foundation a one-off grant of $175,000. The Foundation acknowledges the generosity of the Hawke and Keating Governments and the New South Wales Labor Government and thanks them for providing the necessary funds to firmly establish this scheme of scholarships.
In March 1987, world famous pianist, Roger Woodward, performed a recital at the Opera House, which resulted in more than $18,000 being raised. Donations have been received from organisations and friends of the Lionel Murphy Foundation. The Commonwealth Government regulated to allow gifts to the Foundation of $2-00 or more to be tax deductible under the Income Tax Assessment Act, and also granted the Foundation an exemption from the payment of income tax.