Peter Durack

Peter Drew Durack, QC (20 October 1926[1] – 13 July 2008[2]) was an Australian politician, representing the Liberal Party. He rose to become Attorney-General of Australia.

Peter Durack

Durack in 1948
Attorney-General of Australia
In office
6 September 1977  11 March 1983
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byRobert Ellicott
Succeeded byGareth Evans
Australian Senator for Western Australia
In office
1 July 1971  30 June 1993
Personal details
Born20 October 1926
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Died13 July 2008(2008-07-13) (aged 81)
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia
Lincoln College, Oxford

He served in the Senate from 1 July 1971 to 30 June 1993. From 1987 to 1989, he was a joint Father of the Senate along with Arthur Gietzelt, and from 1989 until his retirement, he alone held this title.


Durack was educated at Aquinas College and the University of Western Australia. He was the state's 1949 Rhodes Scholar and studied law at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he later taught.[3] From 1956 he worked as a barrister in Perth and in 1965 was elected into the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as the Member for Perth, a seat he held until 1968. He moved to federal politics by winning one of the Senate seats in the 1970 Senate election, taking office on 1 July 1971.

He was Minister for Repatriation in the Fraser government from July to October 1976, when the title of the portfolio was changed to Minister for Veterans' Affairs. In 1977 he was appointed Attorney-General, serving in that office until the Fraser government's defeat in 1983. During this time he was responsible for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act 1982; he had introduced a private member's bill on the same subject in 1972.

He was deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1983–87 and 1990–92.[4]

In 1992 he failed to win preselection by his party for a further term, and his political career ended in June 1993.

He died in Perth on 13 July 2008.[2]


Durack wrote several books, dealing with legal issues and the Mabo court case, with which he was involved during his time as Attorney General.

  • Evidence. ISBN 0-644-01371-0 / ISBN 0-644-01371-0
  • The external affairs power ISBN 0-909536-47-3 / ISBN 0-909536-47-3
  • Mabo and after (with Tony Rutherford). ISBN 0-909536-36-8 / ISBN 0-909536-36-8


Durack was a grandson of Kimberley pioneer Jeremiah Durack, who was an uncle of Michael Patrick Durack (1865–1950).[5] He was therefore a cousin of authors Mary and Elizabeth Durack.

Durack was married to Isabel, with whom he had daughter Anne and son Philip.


Political offices
Preceded by
Kevin Newman
Minister for Repatriation/Veterans' Affairs
Succeeded by
Victor Garland
Preceded by
Robert Ellicott
Succeeded by
Gareth Evans
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Doug McClelland
Father of the Australian Senate
with Arthur Gietzelt (1987–1989)
Succeeded by
Mal Colston
Brian Harradine
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