Attorney-General for Australia

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Attorney-General
George Brandis.jpg
Incumbent
Senator the Hon George Brandis QC

since 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18)
Attorney-General's Department
Style The Honourable
Appointer Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia
Inaugural holder Alfred Deakin
Formation 1 January 1901 (1901-01-01)

The Attorney-General for Australia[note 1] is the first law officer of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth of Australia, chief law officer of the Commonwealth of Australia and a minister of the Crown. The Attorney-General is usually a member of the Federal Cabinet, but need not be. Under the Constitution he or she is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister, and serves at the Governor-General's pleasure. In practice the Attorney-General is a party politician and his or her tenure is determined by political factors. By convention, but not constitutional requirement, the Attorney-General is a lawyer by training, either a barrister or solicitor.

Since 18 September 2013, the Attorney-General for Australia has been Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, a Liberal Party of Australia member of the Australian Senate for the state of Queensland.

Scope[edit]

The Attorney-General administers the Attorney-General's Department, and is the minister responsible for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Classification Board, the government agency responsible for classification of films, literature and video games. The Attorney-General also serves as a general legal adviser to the Cabinet, and has carriage of legislation dealing with copyright, human rights and a range of other subjects.

The Attorney-General is nearly always a person with legal training, and eleven former Attorneys-General have received senior judicial appointments after their ministerial service.

Billy Hughes was the longest-serving Attorney-General of Australia, serving for thirteen and a half years over four non-consecutive terms.

List of Attorneys-General[edit]

The following individuals have been appointed as Attorney-General for Australia:[1]

Order Minister Party Prime Minister Prior legal experience Alma mater Term start Term end Term in office
1 Alfred Deakin KC   Protectionist Barton Barrister University of Melbourne 1 January 1901 (1901-01-01) 24 September 1903 (1903-09-24) 2 years, 266 days
2 Senator James Drake Deakin Barrister King's College School, London 24 September 1903 (1903-09-24) 27 April 1904 (1904-04-27) 216 days
3 H. B. Higgins QC Labor1 Watson Barrister University of Melbourne 27 April 1904 (1904-04-27) 17 August 1904 (1904-08-17) 112 days
4 Senator Josiah Symon QC Free Trade Reid Barrister Free Church Training College 17 August 1904 (1904-08-17) 5 July 1905 (1905-07-05) 322 days
5 Isaac Isaacs QC Protectionist Deakin Barrister University of Melbourne 5 July 1905 (1905-07-05) 12 October 1906 (1906-10-12) 1 year, 99 days
6 Littleton Groom KC Lawyer University of Melbourne 12 October 1906 (1906-10-12) 13 November 1908 (1908-11-13) 2 years, 32 days
7 Billy Hughes2 Labor Fisher Barrister n/a 13 November 1908 (1908-11-13) 2 June 1909 (1909-06-02) 201 days
8 Paddy Glynn KC Free Trade Deakin Barrister Trinity College, Dublin 2 June 1909 (1909-06-02) 29 April 1910 (1910-04-29) 331 days
n/a Billy Hughes KC Labor Fisher Barrister n/a 29 April 1910 (1910-04-29) 24 June 1913 (1913-06-24) 3 years, 56 days
9 William Irvine KC Commonwealth
Liberal
Cook Barrister Trinity College, Dublin; and
University of Melbourne
24 June 1913 (1913-06-24) 17 September 1914 (1914-09-17) 1 year, 85 days
n/a Billy Hughes KC Labor Fisher Barrister n/a 17 September 1914 (1914-09-17) 27 October 1915 (1915-10-27) 7 years, 95 days
Hughes 27 October 1915 (1915-10-27) 14 November 1916 (1916-11-14)
National Labor 14 November 1916 (1916-11-14) 13 June 1917 (1917-06-13)
Nationalist 13 June 1917 (1917-06-13) 21 December 1921 (1921-12-21)
n/a Littleton Groom KC Lawyer University of Melbourne 21 December 1921 (1921-12-21) 9 February 1923 (1923-02-09) 3 years, 362 days
Bruce 9 February 1923 (1923-02-09) 18 December 1925 (1925-12-18)
10 John Latham KC Barrister University of Melbourne 18 December 1925 (1925-12-18) 22 October 1929 (1929-10-22) 3 years, 308 days
11 Frank Brennan Labor Scullin Barrister University of Melbourne 22 October 1929 (1929-10-22) 6 January 1932 (1932-01-06) 2 years, 76 days
n/a John Latham KC United Australia Lyons Barrister University of Melbourne 6 January 1932 (1932-01-06) 12 October 1934 (1934-10-12) 2 years, 279 days
12 Robert Menzies KC Barrister University of Melbourne 12 October 1934 (1934-10-12) 20 March 1939 (1939-03-20) 4 years, 159 days
n/a Billy Hughes KC Barrister n/a 20 March 1939 (1939-03-20) 7 April 1939 (1939-04-07) 2 years, 201 days
Page 7 April 1939 (1939-04-07) 26 April 1939 (1939-04-26)
Menzies 26 April 1939 (1939-04-26) 29 August 1941 (1941-08-29)
Fadden 29 August 1941 (1941-08-29) 7 October 1941 (1941-10-07)
13 Dr. H. V. Evatt KC Labor Curtin Barrister, Judge University of Sydney 7 October 1941 (1941-10-07) 6 July 1945 (1945-07-06) 8 years, 73 days
Forde 6 July 1945 (1945-07-06) 13 July 1945 (1945-07-13)
Chifley 13 July 1945 (1945-07-13) 19 December 1949 (1949-12-19)
14 Senator John Spicer KC Liberal Menzies Barrister University of Melbourne 19 December 1949 (1949-12-19) 14 August 1956 (1956-08-14) 6 years, 239 days
15 Senator Neil O'Sullivan Solicitor 15 August 1956 (1956-08-15) 12 October 1958 (1958-10-12) 2 years, 58 days
16 Sir Garfield Barwick QC Barrister University of Sydney 12 October 1958 (1958-10-12) 4 March 1964 (1964-03-04) 5 years, 144 days
17 Billy Snedden QC Barrister University of Western Australia 4 March 1964 (1964-03-04) 26 January 1966 (1966-01-26) 2 years, 285 days
Holt 26 January 1966 (1966-01-26) 14 December 1966 (1966-12-14)
18 Nigel Bowen Barrister University of Sydney 14 December 1966 (1966-12-14) 19 December 1967 (1967-12-19) 2 years, 333 days
McEwen 19 December 1967 (1967-12-19) 10 January 1968 (1968-01-10)
Gorton 10 January 1968 (1968-01-10) 12 November 1969 (1969-11-12)
19 Tom Hughes QC Barrister University of Sydney 12 November 1969 (1969-11-12) 10 March 1971 (1971-03-10) 1 year, 130 days
McMahon 10 March 1971 (1971-03-10) 22 March 1971 (1971-03-22)
n/a Nigel Bowen Barrister University of Sydney 22 March 1971 (1971-03-22) 2 August 1971 (1971-08-02) 133 days
20 Senator Ivor Greenwood QC Barrister University of Melbourne 2 August 1971 (1971-08-02) 5 December 1972 (1972-12-05) 1 year, 125 days
21 Gough Whitlam QC3 Labor Whitlam Barrister University of Sydney 5 December 1972 (1972-12-05) 19 December 1972 (1972-12-19) 14 days
22 Senator Lionel Murphy QC Barrister University of Sydney 19 December 1972 (1972-12-19) 10 February 1975 (1975-02-10) 2 years, 53 days
23 Kep Enderby QC Barrister University of Sydney
University of London
10 February 1975 (1975-02-10) 11 November 1975 (1975-11-11) 274 days
n/a Senator Ivor Greenwood QC Liberal Fraser Barrister University of Melbourne 11 November 1975 (1975-11-11) 22 December 1975 (1975-12-22) 41 days
24 Bob Ellicott QC Barrister University of Sydney 22 December 1975 (1975-12-22) 6 September 1977 (1977-09-06) 1 year, 258 days
25 Senator Peter Durack QC Barrister University of Western Australia
Lincoln College, Oxford
6 September 1977 (1977-09-06) 11 March 1983 (1983-03-11) 5 years, 186 days
26 Senator Gareth Evans QC Labor Hawke Barrister University of Melbourne
Magdalen College, Oxford
11 March 1983 (1983-03-11) 13 December 1984 (1984-12-13) 1 year, 277 days
27 Lionel Bowen Solicitor University of Sydney 13 December 1984 (1984-12-13) 4 April 1990 (1990-04-04) 5 years, 112 days
28 Michael Duffy 4 April 1990 (1990-04-04) 27 December 1991 (1991-12-27) 2 years, 354 days
Keating 27 December 1991 (1991-12-27) 24 March 1993 (1993-03-24)
29 Duncan Kerr4 Labor Keating Barrister University of Tasmania 1 April 1993 (1993-04-01) 27 April 1993 (1993-04-27) 26 days
30 Michael Lavarch Solicitor Queensland University of Technology 27 April 1993 (1993-04-27) 11 March 1996 (1996-03-11) 2 years, 319 days
31 Daryl Williams QC Liberal Howard Barrister University of Western Australia
Wadham College, Oxford
11 March 1996 (1996-03-11) 7 October 2003 (2003-10-07) 7 years, 210 days
32 Philip Ruddock Solicitor University of Sydney 7 October 2003 (2003-10-07) 3 December 2007 (2007-12-03) 4 years, 57 days
33 Robert McClelland Labor Rudd Solicitor University of New South Wales
University of Sydney
3 December 2007 (2007-12-03) 24 June 2010 (2010-06-24) 4 years, 11 days
Gillard 24 June 2010 (2010-06-24) 14 December 2011 (2011-12-14)
34 Nicola Roxon Solicitor University of Melbourne 14 December 2011 (2011-12-14) 2 February 2013 (2013-02-02) 1 year, 50 days
35 Mark Dreyfus QC Barrister University of Melbourne 2 February 2013 (2013-02-02) 26 June 2013 (2013-06-26) 228 days
Rudd 26 June 2013 (2013-06-26) 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18)
36 Senator George Brandis QC Liberal Abbott Barrister University of Queensland and Magdalen College, Oxford 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) incumbent 297 days

Notes

1 A member of the Protectionist Party, Higgins served in the Labor ministry of Chris Watson, because Labor had no suitably qualified lawyer in Parliament.
2 Hughes took silk in 1909, and became a King's Counsel.[2]
3 Whitlam served as part of a two-man ministry together with Lance Barnard for fourteen days, until the full ministry was commissioned.
4 Prime Minister Paul Keating's original choice for Attorney-General in 1993 had been Michael Lavarch, but Lavarch's re-election was delayed by the death of an opposing candidate for the seat of Dickson; Duncan Kerr held the portfolio in the interim until Lavarch won the resulting supplementary election. Kerr served as Attorney-General for 26 days. There was no Attorney-General for the eight days between Duffy's commission ending on 24 March 1993 and Kerr's commission commencing on 1 April 1993.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The title is officially "Attorney-General". For the purposes of distinguishing the office from other Attorneys-General, and in accordance with usual practice in the United Kingdom and other common law jurisdictions, the Australian Attorney-General currently refers to himself as the "Attorney-General for Australia" or the "Commonwealth Attorney-General": see Attorney-General website. Historically, "Attorney-General of Australia" was also used.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ministries and Cabinets". 43rd Parliamentary Handbook: Historical information on the Australian Parliament. Parliament of Australia. 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "William Morris Hughes: Before office". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 

External links[edit]