|Senator The Honourable
|Attorney-General for Australia|
18 September 2013
|Prime Minister||Tony Abbott|
|Preceded by||Mark Dreyfus|
|Vice-President of the Executive Council|
18 September 2013
|Prime Minister||Tony Abbott|
|Preceded by||Tony Burke|
|Minister for the Arts|
18 September 2013
|Prime Minister||Tony Abbott|
|Preceded by||Tony Burke|
|Senator for Queensland|
16 May 2000
22 June 1957 |
|Political party||Liberal Party|
|Alma mater||University of Queensland
Magdalen College, Oxford
George Brandis, QC (born 22 June 1957), is the 36th Attorney-General for Australia and has been a Liberal member of the Australian Senate representing Queensland since May 2000. Brandis has served as Attorney-General in the Abbott Government since 18 September 2013. He also held the post of Minister for the Arts and Sport from 23 January 2007 until the Howard Government lost the 2007 election.
Education and early career
Brandis was born in Sydney. He attended Villanova College and then the University of Queensland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. Following his graduation he served as Associate to Justice Sheahan of the Queensland Supreme Court. He was then elected a Commonwealth Scholar and obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law from Magdalen College, University of Oxford.
Brandis was called to the Queensland Bar in 1985 and quickly developed a large commercial practice with a particular emphasis on trade practices law. He appeared as junior counsel in the High Court of Australia in the important equity case Warman v Dwyer. He was also the junior barrister for the plaintiff in the long running Multigroup Distribution Services v TNT Australia litigation in the Federal Court of Australia.
Brandis was appointed a Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court of Queensland in November 2006. In June 2013 the original title of Queen's Counsel was restored by the Queensland Government and Brandis was one of 70 (out of 74) Queensland SCs that chose to become QCs.
He has co-edited two books on liberalism and published academic articles on various legal topics, one of which was cited by the High Court of Australia in the landmark defamation case ABC v O'Neill.
While at the Bar he was a board member of UNICEF Australia for 10 years. He has also been an Associate of the Australian Institute for Ethics and the Professions.
In his period as a senator, he has served as Chairman of the Economics Committee and featured prominently as the Chairman of the Senate's highly publicised Children Overboard Inquiry. In the wake of this inquiry, Brandis gained widespread attention when it was reported that he called Prime Minister John Howard "a lying rodent", a report he denied.
Brandis also attacked the Greens in the Australian Senate where he stated "I intend to continue to call to the attention of the Australian people to the extremely alarming, frightening similarities between the methods employed by contemporary green politics and the methods and the values of the Nazis". Prime Minister John Howard later distanced himself from Brandis's claim that the Greens use Nazi-style fanaticism in Australian politics.
On 23 October 2006, Brandis made headlines when he wanted Good Shepherd Catholic College in Mount Isa to ban from its school library the book "100 Greatest Tyrants" by British author Andrew Langley, which places Sir Robert Menzies, the longest serving Australian Prime Minister, in such company as Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and Augusto Pinochet. The book claims that Menzies was a tyrant (an abuser of political power) and that Menzies' most tyrannical act was when he wanted to ban the Communist Party of Australia. The school principal Mr Durie said "Obviously it's twaddle to suggest Menzies was a tyrant in the same class as Attila the Hun and that crowd", but refused to withdraw the book as it would be a resource for the generation of debate.
On 6 December 2007 the new Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, Brendan Nelson, appointed Brandis Shadow Attorney-General, a position he continued to hold under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull.
On 2 June 2008 Brandis, in his capacity as Shadow Attorney-General, referred the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008 to a Senate committee for review. The aim of the Labor Party's Bill was to remove legislative provisions that discriminated against gay and lesbian citizens, in this case relating to superannuation. Brandis stated that the Opposition believed discrimination of this type should be removed and supported the Labor party's Bill against the more conservative elements of his own Party, however he insisted on a review of the proposed legislation prior to enactment. The Bill had bipartisan support and was passed into law on 9 December 2008.
He has been outspoken in his opposition to a Bill of Rights.
In January 2010, Brandis made media headlines with his comments regarding a controversial debate between Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the topic of advice given to children regarding abstinence. Brandis suggested that as Ms Gillard did not have children, she did not have the understanding to comment on the issue of pre-marital sex.
Senator Brandis was re-elected in the 2010 election and appointed Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in the Abbott Shadow Ministry.
In 2011 Brandis submitted specific accusations to NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione that sitting Federal Member of Parliament Craig Thomson committed larceny and fraud for misuse of a credit card in the Health Services Union expenses affair, which in turn led to public concern about the separation of powers between legislature and the judiciary.
Brandis faced public scrutiny when it was revealed that in 2011 he had billed the taxpayer for attending a wedding ceremony of Sydney radio shock jock Michael Smith, who incidentally had worked closely with Brandis on the Craig Thomson media saga.  
In early 2013 Brandis became prominent in the media for his views on free speech and media regulation. Brandis did not support the Labor party's proposed media reforms in 2013, and was outspoken in support of greater press freedom, particularly for Andrew Bolt who was found to have breached racial vilification laws for public comments made on Indigenous Australians of mixed genetic descent. Brandis believed section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) should be repealed in favour of greater freedom of expression.      
As Attorney-General in 2014, Brandis furthered his push to amend the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), in part to allow media commentators such as Andrew Bolt greater freedom of expression, and to legally ensure that "people do have a right to be bigots". Brandis labelled Bolt’s comments on mixed descent aboriginals, which were considered during the court case, as ‘quite reasonable’, although the federal court found Bolt violated the RDA and the plaintiffs were awarded an apology and legal costs. Professor Marcia Langton was a vocal public critic of Brandis’ proposed repeal of the part of the RDA on which the Bolt case was based.
Brandis proposed draft legislative amendments in March 2014. The proposal met with criticism from the ALP, Liberal MP Ken Wyatt, and an alliance of racial minority representatives including Jewish lobby groups concerned with holocaust denials in the media.
Brandis supported and approved a December 2013 ASIO raid on Bernard Collaery’s Canberra office (a legal representative for East Timor), where all documents and computers were seized by the government, and which Brandt claimed was for national security interests. Shortly after the raid, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the Australian government was not permitted to use or view any of the raid evidence. Brandis claimed the ICJ ruling was a good outcome for the government. The Timor Gap case involved allegations of ASIS spying during commercial negotiations with the East Timorese over the $40 billion oil and gas reserves of the contested Greater Sunrise fields within the East Timorese exclusive economic zone.
Additionally Brandis approved the ASIO raid and passport cancelation of a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) agent, who was a director of technical operations at ASIS and the whistle-blower on the allegations of commercial spying done by Australia on East Timor, which consequently prevented the unnamed former agent from testifying at the ICJ in the Netherlands.
- "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". smh.com.au. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- Swain, Harriet (12 June 2008). "Scholarship funding cuts have appalled academics and students alike". The Independent (London). Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "Warman International Ltd v Dwyer  HCA 18; (1995) 182 CLR 544; (1995) 128 ALR 201; (1995) 69 ALJR 362 (23 March 1995)". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Multigroup Distribution Services Pty Ltd v TNT Australia Pty Ltd  FCA 226 (12 March 2001)". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "States divide over restoration of 'Queen's Counsel' title". The Australian. 14 June 2013.
- "Australian Broadcasting Corporation v O'Neill  HCA 46; 80 ALJR 1672; 229 ALR 457 (28 September 2006)". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Australian Institute of Ethics and the Professions". Uq.edu.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Seccombe, Mike (2 September 2004). "... but rats, Lib MP really did call Howard a rodent". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "Brandis defends Greens-Nazis comments". Lateline (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 31 October 2003. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- Kingston, Margo (29 October 2003). "Nazi Greens an enemy of democracy, government decrees". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "PM revokes backbencher's comments". Lateline (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 31 October 2003. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- Christiansen, Melanie (29 October 2003). "Call for book ban". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "Sydney Morning Herald". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Australian Human Rights Commission". Hreoc.gov.au. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Harrison, Dan (26 September 2008). "New Libs' stance as senator supports same-sex reforms". The Age (Melbourne).
- "Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—General Law Reform) Act 2008". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Atkins, Dennis (10 December 2008). "George Brandis in battle for bill of rights". The Courier-Mail.
- "Brandis lashes out at childless Gillard". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- "Department of the Parliamentary Library – Shadow Ministry". Aph.gov.au. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Barnes, Greg (29 August 2012). "What sort of A-G would George Brandis make?". ABC. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Maley, Jacqueline (29 September 2013). "George Brandis pays back wedding expenses". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Knott, Matthew (30 September 2013). "Michael Smith: Brandis honest, legit over wedding night expenses". Crickey. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Holmes, Jonathan (15 May 2013). "Correcting the record on 'The Freedom Wars'". ABC The Drum. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Ackland, Richard (10 May 2013). "Brandis has huge job being seen as a freedom fighter". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Brandis, George (October 2012). "In Defence of Freedom of Speech". Quadrant. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Kerr, Christian (8 May 2013). "Dreyfus says Brandis stands for hate speech". The Australian. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Emma, Alberici (7 May 2013). "Brandis applauds defeat of media regulation". ABC Lateline. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Brandis, George (11 June 2013). "The Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech". The Sydney Institute. Retrieved 13 @ERROR@ 2013.
- Bolt, Andrew (10 July 2012). "Brandis on the Labor menace to free speech". Herald Sun. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "Brandis 'alarmed' at medal for Bolt case lawyer". ABC News. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Hirst &Keeble, Martin & Kathryn (5 November 2011). "'I am not a racist' Andew Bolt and free speech". Academia.edu. Retrieved 14 @ERROR@ 2013.
- Griffith, Gareth (October 2011). "Racial vilification laws: the Bolt case from a State perspective". NSW Parliament Library Research Centre. Retrieved 14 @ERROR@ 2013.
- Vasek, Lanai (29 September 2011). "Coalition signals bid to change race laws breached by columnist Andrew Bolt". The Australian. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Brandis, George (30 September 2011). "Section 18C has no place in a society that values freedom of expression". The Australian. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Vasek, Lanai (September 29, 2011). "Coalition signals bid to change race laws breached by columnist Andrew Bolt". The Australian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Harrison, Dan; Swan, Jonathan (March 24, 2014). "Attorney-General George Brandis: 'People do have a right to be bigots'". The Age. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Alexander, Harriet (January 25, 2013). "Crossin a victim of prejudice: Brandis". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Langton, Marcia (March 22, 2014). "Keeping Andrew Bolt in Business". The Saturday Paper. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Merritt, Chris (November 8, 2013). "Attorney-General George Brandis's first task: repeal 'Bolt laws' in name of free speech". The Australian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Owens, Jared (March 26, 2014). "George Brandis rejects concerns Holocaust denial will become lawful". The Australian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Danby, Michael (25 March 2014). "George Brandis has given Australia's racists a free rein". The Guardian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Aston, Heath; Swan, Jonathan (March 26, 2014). "ALP to rally migrants to fight race hate law changes". The Age. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Massola, James; Swan, Jonathan (March 25, 2014). "George Brandis releases planned sweeping changes to race hate laws". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Allard, Tom (March 5, 2014). "George Brandis pleased with court ruling in East Timor spying case". The Age. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- AAP, AAP (March 4, 2014). "International Court of Justice bans Australia from spying on East Timor". The Australian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Deutsch, Anthony (March 14, 2010). "Australia gas deal renews tension". Financial Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Whinnett, Ellen (December 5, 2013). "East Timor takes Timor Gap case with Australia to the Hague amid bullying claims". The Herald Sun. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- Taylor, Lenore (December 4, 2013). "Timor-Leste spy case: Brandis claims 'ridiculous', says ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
|Minister for the Arts and Sport
as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
as Minister for Youth and Sport
|Attorney General of Australia
|Vice-President of the Executive Council
|Minister for the Arts