Mark Dreyfus talks films, books and music ... The weather nut confides the contents of his refrigerator and other important lifestyle details ... The Commonwealth Attorney General is lured onto Justinian's couch
ATTORNEY GENERAL Mark Alfred Dreyfus QC is an escapee from Western Australia, fleeing with his parents to Melbourne where he was schooled at Scotch College and then the University of Melbourne.
His father is the famous composer George Dreyfus, who came to Australia as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
Among George's signature works are the themes for TV triumphs Rush, Dimboola and The Fringe Dwellers.
He was also a bassoonist in the J.C. Williamson touring orchestra.
As a relatively young lad Mark was on the staff of Victorian Attorney General and Minister for Planning Jim Kennan, where he devolved a taste for planning law. For a time was the legal editor of the Victorian Planning Reports.
He also co-wrote the contract chapter in Butterworths' Court Forms, Precedents and Pleadings, Victoria.
Fo the Labor Party he was the author of the Dreyfus Report on how to combat branch stacking, many of whose proposals were substantially implemented.
Probably he was most widely recognised for his work as a barrister acting for Victoria's biggest media companies.
He was also a big wheel on the Victorian Bar Council and the Law Council of Australia.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and shortly afterwards was appointed chairman of the House legal and constitutional affairs committee.
In September 2010, he became a cabinet secretary as well as the king of low cardon as Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in the second Gillard ministry.
Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation was later added to his quiver of duties.
He became attorney general on February 2 on the resignation of Nicola Roxon.
Now, he's strapped on Justinian's couch - trying to answer our questions ...
Describe yourself in three words.
Energetic, optimistic, busy.
What are you currently reading?
Nate Silver, "The Signal and The Noise"; and Thomas Kenneally, "The Daughters of Mars".
What's your favourite film?
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My wife Deborah Chemke.
What is your favourite piece of music?
Tchaikovsky - "Violin Concerto in D"; and Eric Clapton - "Layla".
What is in your refrigerator?
Avocados, papaya, Crown Lager.
What is your favourite website?
What do you recommend as a hangover cure?
What words or phrases do you overuse?
"Indeed" and "When I was ..."
What is your greatest weakness?
I'm fairly talkative.
What have been your most celebrated cases as a barrister?
Cubillo and Gunner v The Commonwealth (Stolen Generations case); Lange v ABC; Theophanous v Herald and Weekly Times Ltd.
Why did you want to be a lawyer?
In my first job out of uni, I worked in the Northern Territory for the Northern Land Council on land and sea claims for Indigenous people. I sat in the dust explaining titles and deeds to people who didn't read English. I realised the law could be deeply practical, giving opportunities and protection to people who need it most.
What would like to have done had you not been a lawyer and a politician?
I would have been a park ranger in the Alpine National Park.
As Attorney General what are your three top priorities?
- Ensure our national values of fairness and equality are reflected in Australian law;
- To make the legal system more accessible;
- To make excellent appointments to courts and tribunals.
What's your most glamorous feature?
My wife, my children and my kelpie.
If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
You cannot be serious.
What human quality do you most distrust?
Whom or what do you consider overrated?
Tony Abbott, sushi, sleep.
What would your epitaph say?
What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"?
A living thing.