Robin Millhouse

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Robin R. Millhouse
Born Robin Rhodes Millhouse
(1929-12-09) 9 December 1929 (age 86)
Nationality Australian
Occupation Barrister, politician, judge
Known for First elected member for the Australian Democrats
Spouse(s) Ann
Children three daughters and two sons
Parent(s) Vivian Rhodes Millhouse, Grace Lilly Ayliffe
Personal details
Political party Liberal and Country, Liberal Movement, New LM, Australian Democrats
Member for Mitcham
In office
Preceded by Henry Dunks
Succeeded by Heather Southcott
39th Attorney-General of South Australia
In office
Preceded by Don Dunstan
Succeeded by Len King
Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia
In office
7 July 1982 (1982-07-07) – 8 December 1999 (1999-12-08)
Chief Justice of Kiribati
In office
8 December 1999 (1999-12-08) – January 2011 (2011-01)
6th Chief Justice of Nauru
In office
2006 (2006) – 2010 (2010)

Robin Rhodes Millhouse RFD,[clarification needed] QC (born 9 December 1929) has been, at various times, the 39th Attorney-General of South Australia, the first Australian Democrats parliamentarian, and the Chief Justice of both Kiribati and Nauru.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Millhouse was born in Adelaide, to father Vivian Rhodes Millhouse, and mother Grace Lilly Ayliffe. Millhouse gained an LLB from the University of Adelaide in 1951.


While practising as a barrister, Millhouse entered the South Australian House of Assembly on 7 May 1955 as the Liberal and Country League (LCL) member for Mitcham, a safe LCL seat in southeastern Adelaide.[1] Millhouse rapidly gained a reputation as both the intellectual driving force behind the LCL and an outspoken spokesperson for the urban middle class faction of the LCL, a group under-represented within the party hierarchy.

Millhouse ran for the LCL leadership pre-selection following leader Sir Thomas Playford's retirement, but lost to Steele Hall, another member of the LCL's progressive faction. Instead, following the LCL's return to power at the 1968 election, Millhouse was given the portfolios of Attorney-General,[1] Aboriginal Affairs, Social Welfare, and Labour and Industry. In these roles, Millhouse gained a reputation as a crusader for progressive social change as he sought to position South Australia as a national leader on social issues. During 1969 Millhouse was the architect and the major proponent for abortion on health grounds in South Australia, a decision he would come to regret decades later, claiming it had become "abortion on demand".[2]

In the wake of the LCL's 1970 election loss, Millhouse was elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition on 2 June but resigned from the party on 18 March 1973 to form the Liberal Movement following growing dissatisfaction at the continuing conservatism of the LCL.[3] While a number of other senior LCL members, including former premier Steele Hall, also joined the Liberal Movement, all except Millhouse eventually returned to the Liberal Party. Millhouse chose instead to form a new political party, named the New LM,[1] before merging that with the Australia Party, the Centre-Line Party and other like minded groups to form the Australian Democrats and, as a sitting member, became the first Australian Democrats Member of Parliament.[1] As a Democrat, he continued to campaign for progressive social issues, including the introduction of a bill to legalise prostitution in South Australia.[4]

Taking silk[edit]

After having been made a Queen's Counsel in 1979,[1] Millhouse resigned from parliament on 7 July 1982, sparking a Mitcham by-election,[5] upon accepting a position as a South Australian Supreme Court justice. He served on the Supreme Court until his retirement due to age in December 1999.[1]

Further judicial appointments[edit]

At his Retirement Sitting, he announced his appointment as Chief Justice of the High Court of Kiribati,[1] a position he held until Jan 2011. He was Chief Justice of Nauru from early 2006 [1] to late 2010.

He acted as the Chief Justice of High Court of Tuvalu in February 2014[6] and March 2015.

Personal life[edit]

He married Ann (deceased 1992) in 1957 and has three daughters and two sons.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j John Emerson (2006). History of the Independent Bar of South Australia. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-86396-835-X. Retrieved 30 Jan 2010. 
  2. ^ Robin Millhouse’s regret: The Advertiser 16 August 2014
  3. ^ "The 1970s". SA Memory:Past, Present for the Future. 16 May 2007. Archived from the original on 12 November 2009. Retrieved 30 Jan 2010. 
  4. ^ "Sex Industry Page 4". 10 May 2007. Retrieved 30 Jan 2010. 
  5. ^ "Political Chronicle—Australia and Papua New Guinea: July-December 1982". doi:10.1111/j.1467-8497.1983.tb00304.x. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Tuvalu Judge unable to transit via Fiji". Cook Islands News. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Don Dunstan
Attorney-General of South Australia
Succeeded by
Len King
Parliament of South Australia
Preceded by
Henry Dunks
Member for Mitcham
Succeeded by
Heather Southcott