New Attorney-General to be sworn in tomorrow
Mark Dreyfus QC entered parliament in 2007. Tomorrow will be sworn in as Australia’s Attorney-General.
In 2010 Dreyfus was appointed as Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency working closely with the Prime Minister on Cabinet matters and with the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to put a price on carbon, improve our energy efficiency and increase our use of renewable energy.
President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dr Danny Lamm and its executive director Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “Mark Dreyfus QC is an excellent choice as Australia’s new Attorney-General and follows Sir Isaac Isaacs as the second Jewish Australian to hold that senior Cabinet position. Mark has had a distinguished career in both the law and politics. His new appointment has been warmly welcomed by the legal profession, political commentators and the Australian Jewish community. The ECAJ congratulates him on his appointment and wishes him well in his new role”.
Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council added: “AIJAC warmly welcomes the appointment of Mark Dreyfus QC as the Commonwealth Attorney-General. We know from personal experience, having worked in association with him for many years, that he brings immense dedication, talent and experience to this important position. We also welcome the promotion by the Gillard government of a number of friends of the Australian Jewish community, including Brendan O’Connor (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Mike Kelly (Minister for Defence Materiel), Jason Clare (adding the Cabinet Secretary role to Home Affairs and Justice Ministries), and new parliamentary secretaries Yvette D’Ath (Climate Change) and Kelvin Thompson(Trade). As well, we congratulate another long-time friend, Senator Stephen Conroy, on his election as government leader in the Senate.”
Mark Dreyfus issued a statement following his appointment.
He said: “I would like to thank Prime Minister Gillard for the honour of this appointment as first law officer of Australia.
Australia’s legal system should provide a framework that allows us to protect and care for all Australians, including our elderly, our sick, our injured, our workers, our new arrivals, our indigenous people, our young and our outspoken writers, artists and journalists.
The best Attorneys General are those who seek to ensure that Australian laws reflect our national values of fairness and equality of opportunity. I congratulate Nicola Roxon, Australia’s first female Attorney General, who has been a passionate advocate for these values.
I pay tribute to Nicola’s work, especially for her rock-solid resolve in introducing plain packaging laws for cigarettes, to help people pursue a healthier life.
This is no small achievement when you consider the might and wealth of those opposing this sensible initiative. Australia’s plain packaging laws are now recognised and lauded around the world.
I wish Nicola and her family all the best. There is no doubt the community will continue to be served extremely well by her talent, drive and experience.
I would also like to thank Climate Change Minister Greg Combet with whom I have worked closely to since 2010 to develop and implement Australia’s climate laws, the Clean Energy Future Plan.
Despite constant and unreasoned attack from many quarters, this Labor Government is successfully cutting carbon pollution to slow the damaging effects of climate change. The scheme has been designed to look after Australian families and jobs as we make the transition to a cleaner economy. Real climate action would stall and every cent of financial support for households and industries would be stripped away by a Coalition Government.
Labor’s climate laws, including the carbon price, are held in high esteem around the world by scientists, economists and by the great number of Australians who understand this enormous challenge cannot be avoided by any government. I am proud to have played a role in launching this reform.
Throughout my years of legal practice I have formed a deep belief in the principles of the rule of law, open, transparent and accessible justice, the right to a fair trial and the protection of an independent judiciary.
I will be guided by these principles in my new role as Attorney General.
As Minister for Emergency Management, I will oversee the large financial contribution made by the Gillard Labor Government to the administration of emergency services and disaster relief, to ensure communities devastated by the fires and floods across Australia this summer have food, water, shelter and decent support during the months and years of rebuilding their homes and lives.
This is a priority for the Gillard Government and one to which I will dedicate myself.
Born October 3, 1956, Perth, Western Australia. Married, 3 children
· 2007 – Federal Member for Isaacs (Vic)
· 1999 – Appointed Queen’s Counsel
· 1987 – Joined the Victorian Bar
· 1985 – 1987 Ministerial Adviser to Victorian Attorney General Jim Kennan
· 1982 – 1985 Commercial Solicitor, Freehill, Hollingdale and Page
· 1982 – 1985 Volunteer Solicitor, Fitzroy Legal Service
· 1982 – Admitted to legal practice
Mark Dreyfus was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Isaacs in November 2007.
In 2010, he was appointed as Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency; Innovation and Industry.
In his first term, Mark chaired the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and was a member of the House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts, and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
Mark practised a barrister before entering Parliament. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1999 and noted as one of Victoria’s top defamation, commercial and planning lawyers. He appeared at trial and appellate level in cases involving company law, administrative law, constitutional law, freedom of information, employment law, town planning, personal injury, taxation, media ownership, intellectual property, heritage preservation, environmental law, building and construction, contract law and customs.
His practice included:
· advising federal, state and local governments
· appearing in a number of landmark cases in the High Court including the Stolen Generations litigation for which he won the 2001 Civil Justice Award (Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association)
· advising Westpac, Telstra, NAB, ANZ, Coles Myer and other companies
· representing the ABC, commercial TV networks, News Ltd, Fairfax and other media outlets in numerous defamation, free speech and freedom of information cases
· appearing at Victorian Royal Commissions (Tricontinental inquiry; Metropolitan Ambulance Service inquiry)
· representing and advising the Law Institute of Victoria
· undertaking regular pro bono work representing community groups, Gun Control Australia, Public Transport Users Association, WWF, Friends of the Earth and the Environment Defender’s Office.
While practising, Mark was also Vice Chair of the Victorian Bar and a Director of the Law Council of Australia
Mark lived in the Northern Territory in the late 1970s working as a field officer for the Northern Land Council. He worked closely with traditional owners on the establishment of Kakadu National Park, land and sea claims, and mining negotiations. This early work as an advocate taught him the practical value of legal skills, informing his choice of a legal and political career.
He lives in Melbourne with his wife Deborah and three children.
Mark Dreyfus will be sworn in tomorrow.