|Senator The Honourable
|Leader of the Government in the Senate|
20 September 2015
|Prime Minister||Malcolm Turnbull|
|Preceded by||Eric Abetz|
|Attorney-General of 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 – 21 September 2015
|Prime Minister||Tony Abbott
|Preceded by||Tony Burke|
|Succeeded by||Mitch Fifield|
|Minister for the Arts and Sport|
30 January 2007 – 3 December 2007
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Rod Kemp|
|Succeeded by||Kate Ellis Minister for Sport
Peter Garrett Minister for the Arts
|Senator for Queensland|
16 May 2000
|Preceded by||Warwick Parer|
22 June 1957 |
|Political party||Liberal Party|
|Liberal National Party|
|Alma mater||University of Queensland
Magdalen College, Oxford
George Henry 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 served as Attorney-General in the Abbott Government from 2013 to 2015, then the Turnbull Government thereafter. He is also Leader of the Government in the Senate and has been the Vice-President of the Executive Council during that period. He also held the post of Minister for the Arts and Sport from 23 January 2007 until the Howard Government lost the 2007 election.
- 1 Education and early career
- 2 Legal career
- 3 Parliamentary career
- 4 Ministerial career
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Education and early career
Brandis was born in Sydney to and was brought up in the Inner-West suburb of Petersham. He attended Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham before moving to Brisbane and attending Villanova College and the University of Queensland, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with First-Class Honours in 1978 and a Bachelor of Laws with First-Class Honours in 1980.
Following graduation, Brandis served as Associate to Justice Charles Sheahan of the Queensland Supreme Court. He was then elected a Commonwealth Scholar and obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law from Magdalen College, Oxford in 1983.
After a brief period as a solicitor in Brisbane, 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 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, and lectured in jurisprudence at the University of Queensland from 1984 to 1991.
Brandis was first chosen by the Parliament of Queensland to fill a casual vacancy following the resignation of Senator Warwick Parer. He was elected to a further six-year term at the 2004 election.
In his period as a senator, he has served as Chairman of the Economics Committee and as Chairman of the Senate's 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 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 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 government'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 was passed into law with bipartisan support on 9 December 2008.
Brandis consistently opposed proposals for a bill of rights.
In January 2010, Brandis commented on 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.
In 2011 Brandis submitted specific accusations to NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione that sitting federal M.P. Craig Thomson committed larceny and fraud through 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 the wedding ceremony of Sydney radio shock-jock Michael Smith, who had colluded with Brandis to publicise the Craig Thomson media saga.  
As Arts Minister, Brandis received significant criticism from the arts industry for a $105 million cut to the Australia Council for the Arts funding in the 2015-16 Australian Federal Budget. The money was reallocated to a new program, The National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA). The NPEA in turn has been criticised by many artists and arts organisations for lacking the "arms-length" funding principles that have applied to the relationship between the government and the Australia Council since its inception in the 1970s. These principles have traditionally had bipartisan support. Brandis had been criticised previously for giving Melbourne classical music record label Melba Recordings a $275,000 grant outside of the usual funding and peer-assessment processes. Brandis's changes to funding arrangements, including the quarantining of the amount received by Australia's 28 major performing arts companies, are widely seen to disadvantage the small-to-medium arts sector and independent artists. Following Malcolm Turnbull's successful spill of the leadership of the Liberal party in September 2015, Brandis was replaced as arts minister by Mitch Fifield.
Racial vilification issue
In early 2013 Brandis gained media publicity for his views on free speech and media regulation. Brandis did not support the Labor government'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 in commenting on Indigenous Australians of mixed-race 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 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, found by the Federal Court to be racial vilification, 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's 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. His view was ultimately not supported by his Cabinet colleagues.
East Timor spying case
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 Brandis 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 cancellation 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.
Dealings with the Australian Human Rights Commission
In February 2015, Brandis made headlines when he questioned the independence and impartiality of the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, following the public release of a report by the Commission into children in detention which was critical of the Government. Brandis said he had lost confidence in Triggs and the Commission because in October 2014 she had given "inconsistent and evasive" evidence to Senate estimates when explaining the timing of her decision to hold the investigation into children in detention which resulted in the report. Brandis said that the "political impartiality" of the Commission had been "fatally compromised" because the Commission had only investigated the issue after the Liberal-National Coalition were elected to power, even though there had been a large number of people in detention under the previous Labor government. This, Brandis claimed, was a "catastrophic error of judgement".
Triggs defended her decision to commence the investigation in early 2014, saying that although the number of detainees had begun to fall while the Coalition were in Government, the length of time in detention had been rising.
Further controversy arose when Triggs told a Senate Estimates hearing that Brandis' departmental secretary had on 3 February 2015 asked her to resign, just prior to the public release of the Commission's report. Triggs said that she was told that she would be offered "other work with the government" if she resigned. Initially the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, denied that any offer of any other role was made to Triggs. However, Bishop conceded that an international role had been discussed with Triggs in early February, during a meeting in her office with the secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, Chris Moraitis.
Some government sources had suggested that Triggs had wanted to be "looked after" if she quit the Commission. However, Triggs said she "categorically denies any suggestion that the issue of a job offer and resignation came at [her] instigation". Triggs said at the Senate hearing that she considered the offer made to her a "disgraceful proposition".
These events prompted Mark Dreyfus, Labor's Shadow Attorney-General, to refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police. Dreyfus said that an offer by Brandis to an independent statutory officer of an inducement to resign, with the object of affecting the leadership of the Commission to avoid political damage, may constitute corrupt or unlawful conduct. The Australian Senate also took up the matter, passing a motion to censure Brandis on 2 March.
- "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". smh.com.au. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- Bolt, Andrew (25 February 2011). "What country is Brandis describing?". Herald Sun.
- Baker, Mark (6 July 2013). "The art of compromise". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
- "Seven in Running for upcoming High Court Vacancies". The Australian.
- Swain, Harriet (12 June 2008). "Scholarship funding cuts have appalled academics and students alike". The Independent. London. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "Senator the Hon George Brandis QC". aph.gov.au.
- "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.
- Yaxley, Louise (1 September 2004). "Russell Galt accuses George Brandis of calling PM a 'lying rodent'". AM. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- Yaxley, Louise (31 August 2004). "Brandis denies 'lying rodent' slur". PM. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- "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.
- "100 greatest tyrants (Open Library)". openlibrary.org.
- Christiansen, Melanie (29 October 2003). "Call for book ban". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- Katharine Murphy. "Labor probes Dyson Heydon link to Liberal fundraiser – question time live". the Guardian.
- The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 June 2008 http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/threat-to-stall-samesex-reforms/2008/06/01/1212258652642.html. Retrieved 20 May 2011. Missing or empty
- "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. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. 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". Crikey. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "George Brandis turns arts into 'political football' with $104.7m Australia Council cuts". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Private arts donors Neil Balnaves and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis accuse George Brandis of neglecting arts community, politicising funding". ABC News.
- "The regrettable rise of the arts bureaucrat". The Age.
- Stuart Glover (20 July 2015). "Writers and publishers are all at sea under Brandis and the NPEA". The Conversation.
- "The Australia Council must hold firm on 'arm's length' funding". The Conversation.
- Ben Eltham. "George Brandis and the arts funding crisis: one hell of a one-man show". The Guardian.
- Holmes, Jonathan (15 May 2013). "Correcting the record on 'The Freedom Wars'". The Drum (ABC). 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. (Access available to members only)
- 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.
- Griffith, Gareth (October 2011). "Racial vilification laws: the Bolt case from a State perspective". NSW Parliament Library Research Centre.
- 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 (29 September 2011). "Coalition signals bid to change race laws breached by columnist Andrew Bolt". The Australian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Harrison, Dan; Swan, Jonathan (24 March 2014). "Attorney-General George Brandis: 'People do have a right to be bigots'". The Age. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Alexander, Harriet (25 January 2013). "Crossin a victim of prejudice: Brandis". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Langton, Marcia (22 March 2014). "Keeping Andrew Bolt in Business". The Saturday Paper. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Merritt, Chris (8 November 2013). "Attorney-General George Brandis's first task: repeal 'Bolt laws' in name of free speech". The Australian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Owens, Jared (26 March 2014). "George Brandis rejects concerns Holocaust denial will become lawful". The Australian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Danby, Michael (25 March 2014). "George Brandis has given Australia's racists a free rein". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Aston, Heath; Swan, Jonathan (26 March 2014). "ALP to rally migrants to fight race hate law changes". The Age. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Massola, James; Swan, Jonathan (25 March 2014). "George Brandis releases planned sweeping changes to race hate laws". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Aston, Heath; Massola, James. Tony Abbott government backdown on race law The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 August 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014
- Allard, Tom (5 March 2014). "George Brandis pleased with court ruling in East Timor spying case". The Age. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- AAP, AAP (4 March 2014). "International Court of Justice bans Australia from spying on East Timor". The Australian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Deutsch, Anthony (14 March 2010). "Australia gas deal renews tension". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Whinnett, Ellen (5 December 2013). "East Timor takes Timor Gap case with Australia to the Hague amid bullying claims". The Herald Sun. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Taylor, Lenore (4 December 2013). "Timor-Leste spy case: Brandis claims 'ridiculous', says ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Whyte, Sarah (24 February 2015). "'A fatal perception of bias': George Brandis admits he asked Gillian Triggs to resign'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Fact check: Triggs correct on the length of time children spent in detention". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Kenny, Mark (27 February 2015). "Julie Bishop admits role with Triggs was discussed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Gogarty, Brendan (26 February 2015). "Comment: did Brandis break the law in requesting Triggs' resignation?". SBS Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Gordon, Michael (25 February 2015). "Labor refers offer to find another job for Gillian Triggs to federal police". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Attorney-General George Brandis censured over Gillian Triggs affair". The Age. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- Media related to George Brandis at Wikimedia Commons
- Summary of parliamentary voting for Senator George Brandis at TheyVoteForYou.org.au
|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
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate