Name: George Williams BEc LLB (Hons) Macq, LLM UNSW, PhD ANU
Firm Name: UNSW Law
Country: Australia
Expertise: Constitutional Law

Telephone: +61 2 9385 5459
Fax: +61 2 9385 1175
Email: [email protected]

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Professional Biography:

George Williams AO is the Dean, the Anthony Mason Professor, and a Scientia Professor at UNSW Law. He has held an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship, and visiting positions at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Columbia University Law School in New York, and Durham University and University College London in the United Kingdom.

He has written and edited 35 books, including Australian Constitutional Law and Theory, The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia and Human Rights under the Australian Constitution. He has appeared as a barrister in the High Court in many cases over the past two decades, including on freedom of speech, freedom from racial discrimination and the rule of law. He has also appeared in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Fiji, including on the legality of the 2000 coup.

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 has also served on a High Level Advisory Group on Federal-State Relations, was a member of the NSW Government’s Panel to Examine Recall Elections and assisted the Northern Territory in its 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 Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times and an on-air analyst for ABC Television. He is currently a columnist for The Australian, and 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:

Charters of Rights, Constitutional Law, Electoral Law, Federalism, Human Rights and Social Justice, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law Reform, National Security and Terrorism, Public Law, Referendums.


– 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

Research Supervision:

– Shipra Chordia (PhD; ‘Proportionality and the Australian Constitution’)
– Genna Churches (PhD; ‘Mass Surveillance and Data Retention in Australia’)
– Harry Hobbs (PhD; ‘Aboriginal Peoples and Public Law Reform’)
– Soula Papadopoulos (SJD; ‘Co-operative Federalism is not a Constitutional Term’)


– 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’.