- George Williams
Professor, Anthony Mason Professor, Scientia Professor, Foundation Director - Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law
BEc LLB (Hons) Macq, LLM UNSW, PhD ANU
George Williams AO is one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers and public commentators. He is the Anthony Mason Professor, a Scientia Professorand the Foundation Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. As an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, he is engaged in a multi-year year international project on anti-terror laws and democracy. He has held visiting positions at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Columbia University Law School in New York and University College London.
George has written and edited 34 books, including Australian Constitutional Law and Theory and The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. He has appeared as a barrister in the High Court in a number of cases over the past two decades, including Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Case and Plaintiff S157/2002 v Commonwealth. He has also appeared in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Fiji, including in Republic of Fiji v Prasad on the legality of the 2000 coup.
He has served on a number of public inquiries. As chair of the Victorian Human Rights Consultation Committee in 2005 he helped bring about Australia’s first State bill of rights, the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. In 2007 he chaired a NSW Government inquiry into Options for a New National Industrial Relations System that produced the historic referral of State industrial power over the private sector to the Commonwealth. He also served on a High Level Advisory Group on Federal-State Relations to Kevin Rudd MP. More recently, he was a member of the NSW Government’s Panel to Examine Recall Elections and assisted the Northern Territory in its renewed attempt to become Australia’s seventh State as a member of its Constitutional Convention Committee.
George is a well-known media commentator on legal issues. He has been a columnist for The Australian and the Canberra Times and an on-air analyst for ABC Television. He is currently a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. He also reviews science fiction and fantasy books for The Weekend Australian and Books and Arts Daily on ABC Radio National.
George was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2011: ‘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.’
Areas of expertise
Constitutional law and reform, charters of rights and human rights law, High Court of Australia, comparative public law, electoral law, federalism and anti-terror law.
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Fellow
AsiaRights Journal, Editorial Board
Australasian Parliamentary Review, Editorial Board
Australian Academy of Law, Fellow
Australian Association of Constitutional Law, Member
Australian Institute of Administrative Law, Member
Balayi: Culture, Law and Colonialism, Advisory Board
Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London School of Law, International Advisory Group
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Member Australian Press Freedom Committee
New South Wales Bar Association, Member
New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law, Advisory Board
Public Policy, Editorial Board
Keiran Hardy (PhD; ‘Preventing Acts of Terrorism by Developing a Counter-Insurgency Model of Anti-Terrorism Law’)
Mitchell Landrigan (PhD; ‘The Interface of Political and Religious Discourse Under the Commonwealth Constitution’)
Jennifer Norberry (PhD; ‘Law and National Security Crises – Contemporary Australian Experience’)
Soula Papadopoulos (SJD; ‘Co-operative Federalism is not a Constitutional Term’)
Sangeetha Pillai (PhD; ‘Citizenship and Anti-Terror Laws’)
Shipra Chordia (PhD; ‘Proportionality and the Australian Constitution’)
Genna Churches (PhD; ‘Mass Surveillance and Data Retention in Australia’)
2012-2014 ARC Discovery Grant for ‘New Models of Co-Operative Federalism In Australia: Constitutional Principles and Practice’ (with Dr AN Lynch).
2009-2014 ARC Laureate Fellowship for ‘Anti-Terror Laws and the Democratic Challenge'
2009-2011 ARC Discovery Grant for ‘Federalism for the 21st Century - A Framework for Achieving Reform and Change' (with Dr AN Lynch; Prof G Craven; Prof NA Warren).
2008 ARC Linkage - Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities Grant for ‘Australian Policy Online Upgrade Project' (with Prof J Thomas; Prof B Costar; Prof RE Tiffen; A/Prof JD Spoehr).
2008 UNSW GoldStar Grant for ‘Reforming Australian Federalism' (with Dr A Lynch, Prof G Craven, Prof N Warren).
2006 ARC Linkage - Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities Grant for ‘Australian Policy Online Development Project' (with Prof J Thomas; A/Prof RE Tiffen; Dr PA Strangio; Prof B Costar; A/Prof JD Spoehr)
2005-2009 ARC Discovery Grant for 'Terrorism and Public Law after September 11'.
2005-2006 ARC Linkage Grant for 'Regional Governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: The Development of a Legal Framework and Practical Models to Address Discrimination and Disadvantage.' (with Larissa Behrendt).
2005 ARC Linkage - Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities Grant for 'Australian Policy Online Enhancement Project' (with Prof J Thomas, Dr D Burchell, Dr B Costar and A/Prof RE Tiffen).
2004-2009 ARC Research Network Grant for 'The Governance Research Network (GovNet)'(with 50 partners).
2004 ARC Linkage - Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities Grant for 'Australian Policy Online Archive Project' (with Dr JD Thomas, Dr DL Meredyth, Dr D Burchell and Dr B Costar).
2003-2004 Law and Justice Foundation Grant for ‘"Homeless Persons" Legal Rights (Pilot) Project' (with Cassandra Goldie).
2002-2004 Myer Foundation Grant for 'A Framework for a Shared Future' (via Reconciliation Australia).
2002-2005 ARC Discovery Grant for 'International Challenges to the Australian Legal System Trade and Human Rights' (with Hilary Charlesworth)
2002-2004 ARC Discovery Grant for 'Public Law Implications of Treaty Between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians' (with Larissa Behrendt and Lisa Strelein).
2002-2003 ARC Linkage Grant for 'Australian Electoral Law Building a System for the 21st Century' (with Graeme Orr).
1999-2001 National Council for the Centenary of Federation Grant for ‘Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia' (with Michael Coper and Tony Blackshield).
1999-2000 Canadian Studies Faculty Research Program Grant for ‘Interveners in Public Interest Litigation in Canada and Australia'.
1998-2000 Large ARC Grant for ‘A Scholarly Companion to the High Court of Australia' (with Michael Coper and Tony Blackshield).
1998 Small ARC Grant for ‘Australian and United States Constitutional Law: Influences and Comparisons' (with Adrienne Stone).
1997 Small ARC Grant for ‘Industrial Relations and the Australian Constitution'.
1996-1997 Small ARC Grant for ‘Human Rights under the Australian Constitution'.
- Principles of Public Law (LAWS1141)
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