Chris Ellison

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The Honourable
Chris Ellison
Senator for Western Australia
In office
1 July 1993 – 30 January 2009
Preceded by Peter Durack
Succeeded by Chris Back
Minister for Justice
In office
30 January 2001 – 3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by Amanda Vanstone
Succeeded by Brendan O'Connor
Personal details
Born (1954-06-15) 15 June 1954 (age 64)
Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Alma mater University of Western Australia
Profession Lawyer

Christopher Martin Ellison (born 15 June 1954) is a former Liberal member of the Australian Senate. He represented Western Australia in the Senate from July 1993 to January 2009.


Chris Ellison was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and was educated at Trinity College, Perth and the University of Western Australia, where he gained a B.Juris(1977) and LLB(1978). He spent two years as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia, where he completed his articled clerkship. He was a barrister and solicitor as partner in his own law firm, Williams Ellison, for 13 years 1980-93.

He is known for his conservative and Catholic views, and is a strong constitutional monarchist and a member of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.[1] He has voted against abortion and euthanasia.[citation needed]

In 2001 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for Service to Society.[2] In 2017, he was named as the Chancellor of The University of Notre Dame Australia.[3]

He is married with three children.

Political career[edit]

Ellison was elected as Senator for Western Australia in 1993, replacing Peter Durack,[4] and immediately became involved in parliamentary committees and inquiries across a range of portfolios. He chaired the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee from 1993 to 1996, including chairing an inquiry which led to changes in Australia's treaty making process.[citation needed]

He entered the Howard ministry as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services and to the Attorney-General in 1997. He was promoted to Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General 1997, Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training 1997-98 and Special Minister of State 1998-2001. He was Minister for Justice and Customs between January 2001 and March 2007.[citation needed]

From March 2007 until the defeat of the Howard government in the 2007 election, Ellison was a member of cabinet as Minister for Human Services, overseeing the service delivery of Government agencies including Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.[4] He held the offices of Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, along with Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate from December 2007 to September 2008.[citation needed]

Following the change of Government in November 2007, Senator Ellison was appointed as Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. In addition, Senator Ellison was the Chair of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee.

Senator Ellison remains to date the longest serving Minister for Justice.


On 17 September 2008, Ellison announced he would be resigning, stating that he would like to spend more time with his family.[5] However, he did not formally resign until 30 January 2009.[6] The casual vacancy caused by his resignation was filled by Chris Back.


Political offices
Preceded by
Geoff Prosser
Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs
Succeeded by
Warren Truss
Preceded by
David Kemp
Minister for Schools, Vocational
Education and Training

Title abolished
Preceded by
Nick Minchin
Special Minister of State
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz
Preceded by
Amanda Vanstone
Minister for Justice and Customs
Succeeded by
David Johnston
Preceded by
Ian Campbell
Minister for Human Services
Succeeded by
Joe Ludwig