A tribute to...

Robin Roy Speed OAM

Published: 13/2/2023

Robin Roy Speed OAM

December 24, 1943 - February 5, 2023

Robin Speed, a gifted and widely respected Australian lawyer, has passed away in Sydney, having lived an extraordinary life. His great loves were his family, Australia, the law firm Speed & Stracey (which he co-founded), the law, promoting the rule of law, and numerous charitable and other activities for the benefit of the community.   

Having migrated to Australia in 1957, Robin attended Manly Boys High School, and Sydney University Law School, attaining bachelor and masters degrees in law with honours. In 1966 Robin joined the legal firm Bartier Perry and was appointed partner and remained there until 1 January 1976 when he founded Speed & Stracey Lawyers with his long term business partner, Bruce Stracey. Speed and Stracey remains successfully in operation today as one of Australia's leading boutique tax law firms.

Robin's great specialty was taxation law, an area of practice in which he was held in high esteem by his peers, clients, the Bar and the Australian Tax Office, publishing numerous articles in respected taxation journals and news bulletins.

However, his legal skills were wide and varied and extended far beyond the confines of tax law. Robin had the rare ability to combine in equal measure technical expertise with sound commercial judgement to arrive at practical common sense outcomes for clients, never abstaining from making a call on the way forward. He was a brilliant tactician and a deep thinker on strategy. In this way, he built up an impressive client following based on loyalty, trust and expertise.  

Clients appreciated Robin's commitment and judgement, his taking ownership of their problems, his empathy and importantly, his long standing friendship.  

Robin also actively encouraged and mentored the careers of many lawyers who worked at Speed and Stracey, including his partners, to their great benefit. Many of the lawyers who worked with him continue at the firm today after decades of service.  

It was not only in the practice of law that Robin excelled. Possessing an acute desire for fighting injustice, believing in a "fair go" for all in their dealings, particularly with the executive arm of government and its agencies, and a commitment to helping the community and to promoting Australia's interests, Robin became involved in numerous pursuits.  

In 1991, he helped establish the Australian Owned Company's Association Limited, an organisation that encouraged Australians to support Australian owned and Australian made products and services. Its aim was to keep jobs and profits in Australia. Robin was a lead opponent to the proposed acquisition by private equity of Qantas, which remains in majority Australian ownership.   

In 2003, Speed and Stracey helped establish the Lowy Institute for International Policy which is a registered charity. Robin was appointed Secretary, a position he held until 2015. The Institute is an independent non-partisan international policy think tank located in Sydney providing high-quality research and perspectives on international trends shaping Australia and the world.    

In 1999, Robin assisted with the formation of the Temora Aviation Museum which owns and maintains historic military aircraft which are on display to the public. The purpose of the Museum is to inspire the community to acknowledge the role played by historic aircraft in Australia's military history. Robin helped establish and was an officer of the following charitable foundations - The Lowy Foundation, the Judith Neilson Foundation and the Mill House Foundation.   

In 2016, Robin supported the establishment of the Sydney Blood Cancer Research Institute and was appointed Director and Secretary assisting with fundraising. The objective of the Institute is to engage in research into the causes, prevention and cure of diseases, in particular blood cancers and blood diseases. This Institute is a registered charity.  

Robin founded, as President, the Rule of Law Education Centre and the Rule of Law Institute of Australia to promote freedom of speech, presumption of innocence, separation of powers between legislature executive and the judiciary and the model litigant rules. The Institute and Centre aim to educate Australians about the rule of law and to hold governments accountable when they overstep their power and act above the law. The Rule of Law Education Centre creates resources, videos and studies to help teachers explain the principles of the rule of law to school students. It also runs a "Law Day Out" program for legal studies high school students to enable them to see the 'law in action'.   

In 2019, Robin was awarded an OAM for services to the law and charities. 

Robin's achievements will continue to inspire us at Speed and Stracey, whilst we celebrate his life, and in the years ahead. To Robin's wife Susan, and his children Matthew, Peter, Emily and Sally, and their children, the firm extends its heartfelt condolences.       


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