George Williams (lawyer)

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Professor
George Williams
AO
Chair of the Victorian Human Rights Consultation Committee.jpg
Williams pictured in 2005
Born 1969
Residence Sydney
Nationality Australian
Fields Australian Constitutional Law
Institutions University of New South Wales
Education BEc/LLB (Hons); LLM; PhD
Alma mater Macquarie University;
University of New South Wales;
Australian National University

George John Williams AO is an Australian academic specialising in Australian constitutional law and Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of New South Wales.[1]

At UNSW he also holds the title of Anthony Mason Professor of Law and Scientia Professor.[1] He is also an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow.[1]

Williams is a public commentator on public law issues, and writes a regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Williams was born in Queenstown, a mining town in Tasmania, to father John Williams, an economic historian and unionist, and mother Shirley Murphy, an academic specialising in tax law at Macquarie University.[3]

Williams' family moved to Sydney when he was a young child, and he attended St Ives High School.[3]

Williams was educated at Macquarie University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws with first-class Honours. He also holds a Master of Laws from the University of New South Wales and in 2000 he completed a Doctor of Philosophy in law from the Australian National University.[1]

Legal practice[edit]

Williams was admitted to practice as a legal practitioner in 1993.[4] After graduating from university he served as an associate to Justice Michael McHugh in the High Court of Australia.[5]

Williams then worked for a year as a solicitor at the law firm Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst Australia), in Sydney.[5]

In 2000, Williams was admitted to practice as a barrister in New South Wales.[4]

The legal database AustLII records 11 appearances by Williams in Australian courts, none of which involved a speaking role:

Case name Court Year Led or unled Party represented Issue
Alqudsi v The Queen[6] High Court of Australia 2016 Led Applicant Trial by jury
APLA Limited v Legal Services Commissioner (NSW)[7] High Court of Australia 2005 Led Amicus curiae Freedom of communication; section 92
Kartinyeri v Commonwealth[8] High Court of Australia 1998 Led Plaintiffs Races power
Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation High Court of Australia 1997 Led Amicus curiae Freedom of communication
Levy v Victoria[9] High Court of Australia 1997 Led Amicus curiae Freedom of communication
Re Minister IMIA; Ex Parte Ame[10] High Court of Australia 2005 Led Prosecutor Migration / aliens power
Plaintiff S157/2002 v Commonwealth High Court of Australia 2003 Led Plaintiff Jurisdictional error
Plaintiff S156-2013 v Minister for Immigration[11] High Court of Australia 2014 Led Plaintiff Migration / aliens power
Purvis v New South Wales[12] High Court of Australia 2003 Unled Amicus curiae Disability discrimination
The Queen v McKay[13] ACT Supreme Court 1998 Led Accused Separation of powers and detention
Truth About Motorways v Macquarie[14] High Court of Australia 2000 Led Applicant Legislative power regarding federal jurisdiction

Williams also appeared in Republic of Fiji v Prasad in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Fiji, on the legality of the 2000 coup (led by Geoffrey Robertson).[15]

Academic career[edit]

In 1995 Williams began his academic career as a Lecturer at the Australian National University.[5] He was appointed to Senior Lecturer in 1996.[5] His first book was Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials, co-authored in 1996 with Tony Blackshield and Brian Fitzgerald, now in its sixth edition.

Williams was a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School in the Spring semester of 1999.[16]

In 2000, Williams took up a position at the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales as Anthony Mason Professor of Law.[17] In 2001, Williams helped found the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW, and was its Foundation Director until 2008.[18]

In 2008, Williams was a delegate in the governance stream at the Australia 2020 Summit. In 2005, he chaired the Victorian Human Rights Consultation Committee that led to the enactment of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.[19]

On 13 June 2011, Williams was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the law in the fields of anti-terrorism, human rights and constitutional law as an academic, author, adviser and public commentator.[20]

In 2012, Williams said he would be "very interested" in being appointed as a judge of the High Court of Australia.[21] News magazine Crikey reported that Williams had published a favourable opinion piece commending then Attorney-General Nicola Roxon,[21][22] who would later that year need to recommend appointment of a new High Court judge.

From October to December 2015, Williams was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University.[23] Williams has also held visiting positions at Osgoode Hall Law School and University College London at some point.[1]

Williams was appointed Dean of the UNSW Faculty of Law in 2016.[17]

Politics and views[edit]

Political affiliations[edit]

In 2006, Williams was elected head of the Australia Labor Party's legal and constitutional committee.[24] In 2007, Williams unsuccessfully sought pre-selection as the Labor candidate for the Sydney electorate of Blaxland.[25] In 2009, while on sabbatical from UNSW, Williams unsuccessfully sought pre-selection as the Labor candidate for the Canberra electorate of Fraser.[26]

Policy and legal views[edit]

Williams has been a vocal critic of aspects of anti-terrorism legislation passed following the September 11 attacks, such as control order regimes.[27][28]

Williams has been a proponent of a national statutory bill of rights.[29]

Family[edit]

Williams is married to Emma, a UNSW academic working in the field of corporate law, with whom he has two children: Edward and Ellie.[3]

Published works[edit]

Williams has published extensively and his notable works include:

  • Williams, George; Brennan, Sean; Lynch, Andrew (2014). Blackshield and Williams: Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials (6 ed.). The Federation Press. ISBN 978-186287-918-8. 
  • Williams, George (1998). Labour Law and the Constitution. Federation Press. ISBN 978-1-86287-308-7. 
  • Williams, George (1999). Human Rights under the Australian Constitution (1st pbk. ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-554111-3. 
  • Williams, George (1999). A Bill of Rights for Australia. UNSW Press. ISBN 978-0-86840-610-7. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "George Williams". UNSW Law. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Comment, Opinion, Writers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c z3515117 (2016-09-27). "Fighting for our Rule Book". UNSW Law. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Find a Barrister - NSW Bar Association". find-a-barrister.nswbar.asn.au. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  5. ^ a b c d Coper, Michael; Williams, George (1997-01-01). Power, Parliament and the People. Federation Press. ISBN 9781862872479. 
  6. ^ Alqudsi v The Queen (24), 15 June 2016, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  7. ^ APLA Limited v Legal Services Commissioner (NSW) (44), 1 September 2005, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  8. ^ Kartinyeri v Commonwealth (22), 1 April 1998, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  9. ^ Levy v Victoria ("Duck shooting case") (31), 31 July 1997, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  10. ^ Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs; Ex Parte Ame (36), 4 August 2005, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  11. ^ Plaintiff S156-2013 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (22), 18 June 2014, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  12. ^ Purvis v New South Wales (62), 11 November 2003, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  13. ^ The Queen v Garry Kenneth McKay and The Queen v Darren John West (128), 2 December 1998, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  14. ^ Truth About Motorways v Macquarie (11), 9 March 2000, retrieved 28 January 2017 
  15. ^ "Fiji Court of Appeal Ruling - Chandrika Prasad". www.fijihosting.com. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "UT College of Liberal Arts:". liberalarts.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  17. ^ a b z3264452 (2016-03-14). "UNSW appoints new Dean of Law". UNSW Newsroom. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  18. ^ "About Us | Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law". www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "George Williams". Faculty of Law. University of New South Wales. 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "George Williams AO". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "High Court horse race hots up as George Williams throws wig in the ring". Crikey. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  22. ^ Williams, George. "Judge her on merits: Roxon's proposed reforms well constructed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "Institute of Advanced Study : Professor George Williams - Durham University". www.dur.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  24. ^ "Constitution expert wants Labor seat". Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  25. ^ Peatling, Stephanie. "Lawyer eyes McMullan's seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "Blow to factions in Labor preselection". 25 April 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  27. ^ "Lateline - ABC". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Williams, George. "The laws that erode who we are". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  29. ^ Williams, George. "Wisdom of politicians is frail shield for our rights". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2017.