The Honourable John Anthony Nader RFD KC 1931–2023

Kevin Tang

The Honourable John Anthony Nader KC, barrister, silk, and former Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, died on 22 April 2023 at the age of 91.

Nader KC was educated at St Ignatius College, Riverview, and commenced a degree in Medicine immediately after matriculating. He only lasted one year in Medicine and realised that his true calling was for the Law. In his early years, he even tested the idea of becoming a priest, but fortunately for his wife and children, that was not to be.

He completed his law degree at the University of Sydney in 1962, and in the same year was admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 9 March.

Nader KC practised generally across a broad range of areas for some years and came to specialise in time, particularly in the areas of industrial and criminal law.

In November 1974, Nader KC accepted a commission as Crown Prosecutor. He was the Chief Crown Prosecutor in Penrith. He prosecuted criminal trials until 1979 and appeared for the Crown in the Court of Criminal Appeal often. He remained a Crown Prosecutor in New South Wales from 1974 until he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in April 1982. Prior to this, he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1981.

Nader KC was a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory from 1982 until 1992. These were significant years, and his judicial life was significant.

Nader KC was a member of the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal where he was the Presiding Judge, and quashed the convictions of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain after their daughter, Azaria, was found to have been taken by a dingo.

While living in Darwin, he took up flying light planes as a hobby. This continued as one of his great passions for more than 30 years. It was a delight to him.

After retirement from the court, Nader KC moved permanently from his lifelong home in Sydney and spent his remaining years on his property, ‘Worendai’, in Merriwa, New South Wales, raising a heard of black Angus cattle with his wife, Sandra. It was a wonderful rural setting and Nader KC loved the quiet life and the contact with animals. This was, and remained until his last days, one of his favourite pastimes.

Nader KC was an active member of the Australian Army Legal Corp. He held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Australian Army Legal Corp Reserve and was awarded the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) in the late 1980s.

Nader KC served as a Judge Advocate at Courts Martial and was an honorary Colonel of the Cadet Corps of the Northern Territory.

Following his time in Darwin and his return to New South Wales, Nader KC continued as an acting Judge of the District Court of New South Wales. He was readily recognisable in legal circles despite his lengthy judicial life in the Northern Territory. He attracted much good feeling among the Judges of the District Court who sat during those years.

Nader KC was the Chairman of the Criminal Code Review Committee from 1990 to 1992.

During the 1990s he also served as a Commissioner of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Nader KC also conducted some inquiries for the New South Wales Government during this period, including the Franca Arena Inquiry in the 1990s.

Remarkably, Nader KC was the lead prosecutor in the Wagner war crimes trial, which concerned a Nazi war criminal hiding in Australia. The trial ran from 1992 to 1993, only to have the prosecution halted due to Heinrich Wagner’s ill health. It was noted that there would have been reasonable prospects of conviction if the trial had continued, and that public interest would have warranted the trial. The prosecution of Wagner involved Nader KC travelling to the USA, Ukraine, Austria, and Germany to interview witnesses and prepare the case for trial. He subsequently wrote a book called Tardy Justice in 2011, in which he reflects about the case in significant detail.

Nader KC was Chairman of the Innocence Panel from 2001 until 2003.

In September 2002, Nader KC was appointed as a part-time Deputy President of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales and Divisional Head of the Legal Services Division of the Tribunal, a role he carried out until August 2005.

Nader KC remained a lifelong member of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory.

Otherwise, Nader KC had many passions included translating Latin text to English, a language he loved and remembered from his school years. It was from Latin that his love of words and reading and writing derived. He played the piano exceptionally well. He loved sailing and was a keen horseman. He also loved baking bread and reading poetry. Such were his literary tastes that Nader KC especially loved Hiawatha, the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and of course, Paradise Lost by John Milton. His life’s passions were many and varied and made for the fullest life.

Nader KC is survived by his wife Sandra, daughters Sarah and Amanda, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

John Nader KC lived a long and wonderful life.

May he rest in peace. BN

Kevin Tang

8 Wentworth Chambers