John Greenwood to be farewelled

John Greenwood pictured with one of his three children, Liz. His daughter Kate is also lawyer. Photo: Supplied

Political and legal circles will farewell John Greenwood later this month, after he sadly passed away on 23 December 2023.

Colonel the Honourable John Ward Greenwood RFD QC started his legal career as a law clerk with Brisbane firm Flower & Hart before being called to the bar in 1958.

John served as Honorary Secretary of the Queensland Bar Association from 1959 to 1961. He was appointed as a QC in 1980 and practised up until his retirement in 2017.  John was also admitted to appear in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. 

He appeared as counsel for conservation interests at the Royal Commission into Oil Drilling on the Great Barrier Reef from 1970 to 1972. He appeared in several constitutional cases before the High Court and Privy Council. He formulated the arguments for the Thayorre peoples in the Wik case.

In the words of retired High Court Judge Michael Kirby: “the Wik peoples were fortunate in the advocacy of Walter Sofranoff, Sir Maurice Byers, JW Greenwood and their team”.

He also appeared in matters raising constitutional and rule of law issues in Papua New Guinea and the Solomons. John’s admission to the bar in the Solomons 2001-2002 prevented the disputed leader of the Solomons Government throwing him out of the country in order to thwart the legal challenge to his rule in November 2001. 


John was one of Queensland’s delegates to the Australian Constitutional Convention. He served in the Queensland Parliament from 1974 until 1983 in the seat of Ashgrove, and in the Cabinet from 1976 to 1980 as Minister for Survey and Valuation.

He was a member of the Australian Army reserve from 1952 until 1994. He transferred his commission to the Army Legal Corps in 1973. He served as a senior legal officer in the counter-terrorism exercises for Expo 88.

His defence appointments included that of a Defence Force Magistrate, and subsequently a member of the panel of Reviewing Judge Advocates ADF, with the rank of Colonel. 

He graduated with a BA (1956) and LLB (1957) from the University of Queensland.  John was also a part-time lecturer in commercial law from 1962 to 1965, served on the Law Faculty Board from 1960 to 1966 and 1968 to 1974, and was a member of the University of Queensland Senate from 1960 to 1966.

Friends and former colleagues are welcome to attend his funeral service on Monday, 22 January, at 11am at St John’s Cathedral, Ann St, Brisbane.

St John’s Cathedral will be live-streaming the funeral.

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