Murray Baird

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Carey Medal recipient for 2020 is Murray Baird.

Murray was a student at Carey from 1966–71. He was Captain of Hickman House, a School Prefect and represented the School in hockey, athletics and public speaking. He was also involved in the performing arts: the School history By Courage and Faith by Stuart Sayers refers to the dedication of time, thought and energy by Murray Baird in the main role of the School’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III, a demanding part with more than a thousand lines to memorise. His older brother, Allen, also attended Carey, as did Murray’s sons, Cameron and Stuart. Murray’s father Brian was a staff member for over 30 years.

Murray graduated from Monash University with an Arts/Law degree and followed this with the Leo Cussen PTC (Practical Legal Training Course) in 1977. He had worked at Moores legal practice part time while at university, and his career saw him return to Moores, where he became a Partner and saw the firm grow to become a substantial Melbourne law firm. Murray was considered a generous and wise mentor of new intakes of law graduates, and he found a niche in not-for-profit (NFP) law and governance.

Later in his career, Murray left Moores and helped set up and actively lead the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) as its inaugural Assistant Commissioner and General Counsel. During this time, the ACNC established the national register of charities and provided guidance and support to the organisation and sector. Murray always took the view that charities responded better to guidance rather than censure.

Many lawyers make admirable contributions to the NFP sector in a pro bono capacity in their spare time, but Murray chose to make it his main job. Much of his public legal work assisted in defining the boundaries of charity through litigation. One significant case which had implications for the law of charities across the world was the Commissioner of Taxation v Word Investments Ltd. decision of the High Court that allowed charities to be involved in commercial activities. He has also since assisted governments around the world with advice on regulation of the charity sector.

Murray has held many roles on various NFP boards, contributing pragmatic suggestions, strategic insights and his deep understanding of governance responsibilities and duties. These roles are almost always unpaid and often low profile. This reflects Murray’s commitment to advancing the work of others, and not that of himself.

Murray now teaches charity law at the University of Melbourne and is an Adjunct Professor in the law school at The University of Western Australia.

Murray became a member of the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central at its Foundation meeting in April 1990 and served with distinction in many capacities. He was Club President in 1993–4 and Vice President in its inaugural year and again in 1996. Over his years of membership, Murray served on the Board on numerous occasions and chaired or served on every Standing Committee.

In 1997, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Rotary International, Murray was fittingly awarded a Paul Harris Fellow – an especially high honour named after Rotary’s founder.