George Newhouse

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George Newhouse
Councillor of Waverley Council
In office
Constituency Hunter Ward
Personal details
Born Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party

George Newhouse is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University, an Australian human rights lawyer and a former local councillor.

He was Mayor of Waverley in the eastern suburbs of Sydney from 2006 to 2007, and the Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Wentworth at the 2007 Australian federal election.

Newhouse is the Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project a human rights and social justice legal service. He is Australian legal practitioner and a certified practicing accountant (CPA)

Professional career[edit]

Newhouse attended Sydney Grammar School and then studied Law and Commerce at the University of New South Wales.

After leaving university, Newhouse joined JPMorgan in Sydney as a corporate finance executive and was later transferred to JPMorgan's New York office. From New York. He moved to London where he worked for two years as a capital markets lawyer for Clifford Chance. In 1990 he returned to Sydney and continued working as a lawyer with Swaab & Associates. He became an accredited mediator and was a member of the Consumer Trader Tenancy Tribunal from 1999 to 2007 and a mediator for the Workers Compensation Commission from 2001 to 2010.

In addition to his expertise in Social Justice Law, Newhouse specialises in Defamation, Privacy, Negligence, Property, Finance and Planning Law. He is an Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University where he teaches law and is also the chapter editor of Thomson Reuters "The Laws of Australia: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders – Civil Justice Issues".

As the Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project his work involves using the law in ways that support and advance social justice and human rights in Australia. It does this by supporting those who are least able to access justice and whose cases can advance human rights within Australia and the Pacific region. In addition the National Justice Project has taken on a number of research, education, advocacy and reform projects such as the Aboriginal Innocence Project and the Aboriginal Health Project.

The National Justice Project was founded by Newhouse in 2016, together with Dan Mori and Duncan Fine.

In August 2008 Newhouse was invited to participate in the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd's Australia 2020 summit in the area of Indigenous Affairs.

Human rights representation[edit]

Newhouse is well known in Australia for his human rights work with refugees, former Immigration detainees and Aboriginal Australians.


He is most remembered for representing Vivian Solon, who was deported from Australia to the Philippines; Cornelia Rau, who was detained in an Australian detention centre for 10 months; the Sudanese Dafurian Community and the family of the late Richard Niyonsaba.[1] Newhouse has also acted for Tamil, Chinese, Palestinian and Iranian asylum seekers following the Rau and Solon cases.

In June 2010 Newhouse represented 8 Tamil asylum seekers in their complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding the suspension of the processing of their visas. All have now been processed and released.

In February 2011 Newhouse was successful in securing the release of Seena Akhlaqi Sheikhdost, an orphan whose parents had died in a shipwreck on Christmas Island from immigration detention [2][3][4] He also facilitated a family with two vulnerable children to be moved from Inverbrackie Detention Centre in Adelaide to community detention in Sydney.[5]

Newhouse has championed the use of the Commonwealth's common law duty of care to have children released from fenced detention [6]

In 2011 he represented the survivors and relatives of those who died in the Christmas Island Boat Tragedy in the WA Coroner's Court [7] and he represented the next of kin of one of the three suicides in Villawood before the NSW Coroner.[8] He also obtained an injunction to stop the first Afghan asylum seeker to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan.[9]

In 2013 he acted for two vulnerable youths in immigration detention and had them released into the community

In 2013 and 2014 together with Julian Burnside and Dan Mori he mounted a Constitutional Challenge to the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru [10]

He has fought for the rights of those indefinitely detained in immigration detention to be released or to have their adverse ASIO determinations reviewed [11]

Aboriginal Australians

In 2006 Newhouse worked with the Mutitjulu Aboriginal Community to overturn the decision of the Howard Government to impose an Administrator over the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation on the basis that the decision was ultra vires or beyond the power of the decision maker.[12]

In January 2009 Newhouse advised Barbara Shaw and the Prescribed Areas Peoples Alliance on their complaint about the Commonwealth Government's Northern Territory Intervention Laws to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.[13][14]

In August 2009 Newhouse, on behalf of Barbara Shaw and other town camp residents, gathered a team of lawyers led by Ronald Merkel QC to stop the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jenny Macklin from proceeding with her takeover of the Alice Springs Town Camps and entering into a 40-year lease with the town camp associations.[15]

In January 2010 he took on "cyber racists" who published material vilifying Indigenous Australians and succeeded in having Google remove search results and links to two racially offensive web pages based outside of Australia.[16]

During 2010 Newhouse worked with the Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory to fight for a fair rent to be paid by the Commonwealth for leases which the Commonwealth had taken over Aboriginal Land which were compulsorily acquired under the Northern Territory Intervention Legislation.[17]

In May 2010 Newhouse assisted The Traditional Aboriginal Owners of Muckaty Station to commence legal action against the Northern Land Council and the Commonwealth to overturn the nomination of their land as the site of Australia's first radioactive waste storage facility.[18][19]

In January 2011 Newhouse successfully represented the Hermannsburg Bulldogs, an Indigenous AFL team from Hermannsburg, Northern Territory and had them reinstated into the Central Australian AFL competition after they were suspended from the competition without due process.[20]

In 2013 and 2014 Newhouse acted for several Aboriginal Australian women who had their children removed by child protection agencies.

In 2014 Newhouse acted for the family of Andrea Pickett an Aboriginal Australian who was brutally murdered by her husband in their case against the Western Australian Police and the WA Department of Child Protection [21]

Newhouse has acted in many inquests for Aboriginal Australians who died in custody. In 2015-6 he acted for the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA in the Inquest into the death of Ms Dhu in a police lockup. He also acts for the family of David Dungay Jr who died in Long Bay Prison in December 2015. He is also assisting the family of the late Wayne Morrison who died in Yatala Prison in September 2016

Newhouse has acted for Aboriginal Communities in WA and the Northern Territory, participated in many rallies and spoken at different events defending the rights of Indigenous Australians, refugees, ethnic minority groups and genocide survivors and denouncing all forms of racism and anti-antisemitism and human rights abuse.

Homosexual Vilification

Newhouse has represented gay activist Gary Burns in two of his homosexual vilification cases.[22][23]

Abuse of Power

Newhouse had an assault charge dismissed against a 64-year-old grandmother – Mrs Leentije (Eva) McDonald – who was searched by police outside a pub in Maroubra NSW in unusual circumstances.[24]

Looted Nazi Artworks

Newhouse acted for the Emden Family in their efforts to have their claim, that the painting 'Lady with a fan', by Gerard ter Borch was stolen from their grandfather Max Emden by Nazi officials, recognised by the National Gallery of Victoria.[25]


In 2015 Newhouse won a defamation case against Newscorp blogger Andrew Bolt, who had alleged that Newhouse had fraudulently asserted that a number of Sri Lankan people attempting to reach Australia by boat were asylum seekers. Newscorp were ordered to remove the offending articles. [26]

Board Memberships[edit]

In 2004 Newhouse was appointed to the NSW Architects Registration Board to represent the views of local government. He is also a former board member of the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry.[27]

In 2008 – following his attendance at the Australia 2020 summit – Newhouse together with Warren Mundine established the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce to promote indigenous entrepreneurship. Newhouse was a director of the chamber to 2012.

Newhouse is also a member of the Board of the Stolen Generations Testimony Foundation[28] and of the Advisory Board of the Alex Buzo Company.[29]

In August 2009 Newhouse travelled to PNG to establish the Adrian Lam Foundation to assist youth in PNG through education and sport.

Newhouse has been the company secretary for the McKell Institute, a progressive public policy institute dedicated to developing practical policy ideas and contributing to public debate, since its inception in 2011.[30]

Political activity[edit]

Newhouse served as a Labor councillor on Waverley Council from 1995 to 2008 (representing Hunter Ward, which covers North Bondi, Rose Bay, Dover Heights and parts of Vaucluse). He was active in the various local government committees, participating in the Finance, Ethics and Community Services Committees and chairing the Development Control Committee. He was a founding member of the Waverley-Woollahra Bondi Junction Joint Planning Committee, and chaired the Waverley Council Bondi Junction Committee during a period of major upgrade including the $600 million Westfield redevelopment and the upgrade of Oxford Street.

Newhouse was elected to the executive of the Local Government Association in 2004 by councillors from around New South Wales.

Newhouse was elected Deputy Mayor of Waverley in 2004 and became Mayor in September 2006. As Mayor, he undertook "back-to-basics" reforms by upgrading Bondi Park, Campbell Parade and Hall Street, moving Waverley Council's Service Centre and Planning Counter to Bondi Junction, creating a "mobile Mayoral unit" to keep in touch with local residents, and emphasising the need to combat climate change at a local level, by committing Waverley Council to be carbon-neutral within five years and supporting other environmentally-friendly initiatives.

Newhouse did not recontest the 2008 Local Government Election or the 2010 Federal Election.

2007 election[edit]

Newhouse was endorsed in May 2007 as Labor candidate for the federal electorate of Wentworth, held by the Liberal member, Malcolm Turnbull, who was Minister for Environment in the Howard Government. He then resigned as Mayor of Waverley. Although Wentworth had never been won by Labor, there was speculation that after a redistribution it might be winnable.

During the campaign Newhouse accepted the Labor Party's decision to back the construction of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania.[31] This led to criticism from the Australian Greens and other environmentalists. Two candidates, former Sydney Deputy Mayor Dixie Coulton and Danielle Ecuyer, nominated against him as anti-pulp mill candidates.

A few days before the election, Turnbull made claims that Newhouse's nomination as a candidate was invalid because Newhouse did not resign from his positions on the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal and the Workers Compensation Commission before nominating. Newhouse and the Labor Party denied that he had not resigned before nominating and dismissed the allegations by pointing to section 1 (e) of Schedule 2 of the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal Act which automatically vacated his office as a member of the Tribunal when Newhouse nominated for election as a member of a House of Parliament of the Commonwealth.

In the days before the election the Liberal Party increased its strident attacks on Newhouse by revealing that a Newhouse campaign worker, former National Union of Students President Rose Jackson, had allegedly espoused "anti-Zionist views" in an email during her tenure with the NUS. Jackson said she had "not understood the proper definition of Zionism" at the time she wrote the email and that she supported the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish homeland.

On polling day Newhouse was assaulted by a prominent journalist Caroline Overington at their local polling booth.[32]

The editor-in-chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, mediated the dispute between the two.[33] and The Australian published an apology to Newhouse on 4 December 2007.[34]

Newhouse increased Labor's primary vote at the 2007 election and made Wentworth a marginal seat, taking Labor to within 3.85% of victory.

Recent Cases with the National Justice Project[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Refugee Family To Be Given New Caseworker
  2. ^ Lawyers take up case of boat orphan
  3. ^ Lawyer to fight for orphaned asylum seeker
  4. ^ Fate of orphaned asylum seeker
  5. ^ Inverbrackie's Troubled Children in Court Plea
  6. ^ Set us Free
  7. ^ SIEV Boat Witnesses denied Legal Aid
  8. ^ AHRC Calls for Probe
  9. ^ Court Stops Forced Deportation of Asylum Seeker
  10. ^ Australian Lawyers Launch Constitutional Challenge to Detention of 10 Asylum Seekers on Nauru
  11. ^ ASIO Warned Over Blocking Refugee Access to Lawyers
  12. ^ Giuseppe v Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations [2007] FCAFC 91, Federal Court (Full Court) (Australia).
  13. ^ NT intervention: Aboriginal Australians take their case to the UN
  14. ^ Welfare payment glitch prompts calls to end income management
  15. ^ Macklin Stymied on Camps,25197,25894353-5013404,00.html
  16. ^ Google agrees to take down racist site
  17. ^ Community Money Remains Frozen
  18. ^ Legal Eagles weigh in on Muckaty Dispute
  19. ^ Potential Legal Action over Nuclear Dump
  20. ^ Bulldogs Bite Back
  21. ^ Family Sues State for Murder Negligence
  22. ^ Burns Takes On Channel Nine
  23. ^ Cabbie feels the heat over gay remarks
  24. ^ Newhouse takes body search case
  25. ^ Nazi Loot Claim Fuels Demand For Arts Return
  26. ^ Newhouse v News Limited (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 567 (30 November 2007), Supreme Court (NSW, Australia).
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Pulp mill won't hurt election bid, Newhouse says". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007. 
  32. ^ "Dispute Boils over in Wentworth". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 24 November 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  33. ^ "Journo Sorry for striking candidate". 4 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  34. ^ Simons, Margaret (4 December 2007). "First jokes now apologies". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.