Former High Court judge associate joins Australian Parliament

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by Mark Abernethy

A former High Court judge associate is the new Member of Parliament for Sydney’s blue-ribbon seat of Berowra.

Julian Leeser has replaced Philip Ruddock – the second longest serving Australian parliamentarian after Billy Hughes – in the Liberal stronghold on Sydney’s north shore.

In 2000, Leeser was an associate to Justice Ian Callinan on the High Court before he joined Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Sydney as a solicitor.

Leeser was involved in the Prime Minister’s “No Case” committee during the 1999 Republic Referendum and worked as an adviser to Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott in 2001. Recently he was known for his role as Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre, until 2012, before becoming Director of Government Policy and Strategy at the Australian Catholic University.

Leeser’s success in the seat of Berowra continues its reputation as a stronghold of lawyers: Berowra’s first MP in 1969 was Tom Hughes – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s father in law – who went on to become Australia’s Attorney-General. Philip Ruddock, himself a former Attorney-General, was articled at Sydney firm Berne, Murray & Tout where he was later promoted to partner. As it happens, Philip Ruddock and Julian Leeser are neighbours in Pennant Hills.

Julian Leeser is also one of six Jews in the new Parliament – a record for an Australian Parliament according to the Australian Jewish News.