Julian Burnside AO QC
Julian Burnside AO QC is a barrister based in Melbourne, specialising in commercial litigation. Julian joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He acted for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP, for Alan Bond in fraud trials, for Rose Porteous in numerous actions against Gina Rinehart, and for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores. He was Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry and was senior counsel for Liberty Victoria in the Tampa litigation.
Julian is a former President of Liberty Victoria, and has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees. He is passionately involved in the arts, and collects contemporary paintings and sculptures, and regularly commissions music. He is Chair of Fortyfive Downstairs, a not-for-profit arts and performance venue in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and was formerly the Chair of Chamber Music Australia.
Julian is the author of a book of essays on language and etymology, Wordwatching (Scribe, 2004) and Watching Brief (Scribe, 2007) a collection of his essays and speeches about the justice system and human rights. In 2003, he compiled a book of letters, From Nothing to Zero (Lonely Planet) written by asylum seekers held in Australia’s detention camps. He also wrote Matilda and the Dragon, a children’s book published by Allen & Unwin in 1991. His latest book is Watching Out: Reflections on Justice and Injustice (Scribe, 2017).
In 2004, Julian was elected as a Living National Treasure, and in 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, going on to receive the Sydney Peace Prize in 2014.
He is married to artist Kate Durham.
Julian Burnside AO QC.