Attorney-General for Australia

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Attorney-General
George Brandis CeBIT2014.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)
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Australia

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 they are 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 their 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). 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; 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 QC 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 National Abbott Barrister University of Queensland; Magdalen College, Oxford 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) 3 years, 13 days
Turnbull 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15) incumbent

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 themselves 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]