Australian Government Solicitor

The Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) is an Australian public servant and a federal government agency of the same name which provides legal advice to the federal government and its agencies.

AGS was originally the Crown Solicitor's Office, which was established on 1 July 1903 on the appointment of Charles Powers as the first Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. With a major restructure of the Attorney-General's Department in 1983-4, the Crown Solicitor's Office became the Office of the Australian Government Solicitor, with Crown Solicitor Tom Sherman appointed the first Australian Government Solicitor. Some functions of the Crown Solicitor's Office were transferred to other parts of the Attorney-General's Department. In 1999, the Australian Government Solicitor ceased being an office held by an individual, and instead became a government business enterprise, headed by a CEO, separate from the Attorney-General's Department. On 1 July 2015, AGS was consolidated within the Attorney-General's Department as a functionally independent group under a lawyer titled the 'Australian Government Solicitor'.

Some Commonwealth legal work, including constitutional law, is 'tied' work that only AGS is able to perform as solicitor on behalf of the Commonwealth.

List of office-holdersEdit

Individuals who have served as Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, Australian Government Solicitor or CEO of AGS are:

  • Charles Powers (1903-1913)[1]
  • Gordon Castle (1913-1927)[2]
  • William Sharwood (1927-1936)[3]
  • Fred Whitlam (1936-1949)[4]
  • Keith Waugh (1949-1951)[5]
  • David Bell (1951-1955)[6]
  • Harry Renfree (1955-1970)[7]
  • Bob Hutchison (1970-1975)
  • Alan Neaves (1975-1979)
  • Brian O'Donovan (1979-1983)
  • Tom Sherman (1983-1989)
  • Stephen Skehill (1989-1990)
  • John Pyne (1990-1993)
  • Dale Boucher (1993-1999)
  • Rayne de Gruchy (1999-2010)
  • Ian Govey (2010-2016)
  • Louise Vardanega (Acting) (2016-2017)
  • Michael Kingston (2017 - present)


  1. ^ Forster, Colin. "Powers, Sir Charles (1853–1939)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  2. ^ Attorney General's Department, CASTLE Gordon Harwood
  3. ^ Attorney General's Department, SHARWOOD William Henry
  4. ^ Attorney General's Department, WHITLAM Harry Frederick Ernest (Fred)
  5. ^ Creswell, C.C. "Waugh, Keith Cameron (1886–1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  6. ^ Farewell speech by the Senior Vice-Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council on the occasion of the retirement of Master Charles Wheeler from the Supreme Court of Victoria Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Obituary - Harold Edward Renfree, The Canberra Times, 1 February 1989

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit