STREET, Sir Philip Whistler (1863-1938)


STREET, Sir Philip Whistler (1863-1938)
chief justice of New South Wales
was the son of John Rendell Street, managing director of the Perpetual Trustee Company, and for a time member of the legislative assembly of New South Wales, and grandson of John Street, an early pastoralist. He was born at Sydney on 9 August 1863, and was educated at the Sydney Grammar School and the university of Sydney. He graduated B.A. in 1883, was admitted to the bar in 1886, and developed a good practice especially on the equity side. In 1906 he was appointed an acting judge of the supreme court, and in February 1907 was made a judge. He at first presided principally over bankruptcy and probate cases, but afterwards had wide experience as deputy president of the old court of arbitration, judge in vice-admiralty, judge in divorce, and from 1918 chief judge in equity. He was acting chief justice in 1924, and on 25 January 1925 succeeded Sir William Cullen (q.v.) as chief justice. He became lieutenant-governor in 1930, and administered the government from May to October 1934, January to February 1935, and January to August 1936. He resigned as chief justice in 1933. Outside his profession Street had many interests and undertook many duties. He was chairman of the trustees of the Sydney Grammar School from 1912 to 1929, a member of the senate of the university of Sydney from 1915 to 1934, and deputy chancellor in 1926. He was greatly interested in art, was a trustee of the national art gallery of New South Wales from 1923, and he was also a trustee of the Australian Museum. In connexion with social movements he was president of the New South Wales division of the Boy Scouts Association, of the Boys' Brigade, of the New South Wales Home for Incurables, and of the Institute of Public Administration. He was in 1934 appointed American non-national member of the international commission provided for by the treaty between the United States of America and Greece. He died on 11 September 1938. He married in 1888 Belinda Maud, daughter of F. Poolman, who survived him with two sons. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1928.
Street had the culture, dignity and temperament suitable for his position. He had a wide knowledge of law and the ability to quickly reach the heart of the matter; however complicated a case might seem on the surface, the real issue involved soon became apparent to him. Though he had a keen sense of humour his court never lost its dignity and decorum, and though he would not allow himself to be fettered by mere technicalities, he insisted on the maintenance of the basic principles of law. His courtesy was universal and he never lost the affection and respect of the members of his profession.
Street's elder son, Kenneth Whistler Street, born in 1890, educated at Sydney Grammar School and Sydney university, also followed the law with success, and became a judge of the supreme court of New South Wales, possibly a unique case of a father and son sitting on a supreme court bench together. A nephew, Geoffrey Austin Street (1894-1940), a great athlete at Sydney Grammar School and the university of Sydney, fought with distinction in the 1914-18 war, was in the landing on Gallipoli, was awarded the military cross, returned with the rank of major, and keeping his connexion with the forces became colonel and temporary brigadier. He was elected to the Commonwealth house of representatives for Corangamite, Victoria, in 1934, became parliamentary secretary to the department of defence in July, and minister for defence in November 1938. His death in an aviation accident at Canberra on 13 August 1940 cut short a promising career.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 1938; The Times, 12 September 1938; The Australian Law journal, 16 September 1938; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1938; The Herald, Melbourne, 13 August 1940; The Argus, Melbourne, 14 August 1940; Who's Who in Australia, 1938; Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook, 1938.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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