Chris Ellison (politician)

Christopher Martin Ellison (born 15 June 1954) is an Australian lawyer and former politician. He served as a Senator for Western Australia from 1993 to 2009, representing the Liberal Party. He held ministerial office in the Howard Government as Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs (1997), Schools, Vocational Education and Training (1997–1998), Special Minister of State (1998–2001), Justice and Customs (2001–2007), and Human Services (2007).

Chris Ellison
Chris Ellison.jpg
Minister for Human Services
In office
9 March 2007 – 3 December 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byIan Campbell
Succeeded byJoe Ludwig
Minister for Justice and Customs
In office
30 January 2001 – 9 March 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byAmanda Vanstone
Succeeded byDavid Johnston
Special Minister of State
In office
21 October 1998 – 30 January 2001
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byNick Minchin
Succeeded byEric Abetz
Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training
In office
9 October 1997 – 21 October 1998
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byDavid Kemp
Succeeded byAbolished
Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs
In office
18 July 1997 – 9 October 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byGeoff Prosser
Succeeded byWarren Truss
Senator for Western Australia
In office
1 July 1993 – 30 January 2009
Preceded byPeter Durack
Succeeded byChris Back
Personal details
Born (1954-06-15) 15 June 1954 (age 66)
Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia


Chris Ellison was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and was educated at Trinity College, Perth and the University of Western Australia, where he gained a B.Juris (1977) and LLB (1978). He spent two years as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia, where he completed his articled clerkship. He was a barrister and solicitor as partner in his own law firm, Williams Ellison, for 13 years 1980–93.

He is known for his conservative and Catholic views, and is a strong constitutional monarchist and a member of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.[1] He has voted against abortion and euthanasia.[citation needed]

In 2001, he was awarded a Centenary Medal for Service to Society.[2] In 2017, he was named as the Chancellor of The University of Notre Dame Australia.[3]

He is married with three children.

Political careerEdit

Ellison was elected as Senator for Western Australia in 1993, replacing Peter Durack,[4] and immediately became involved in parliamentary committees and inquiries across a range of portfolios. He chaired the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee from 1993 to 1996, including chairing an inquiry which led to changes in Australia's treaty making process.[citation needed]

He entered the Howard ministry as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services and to the Attorney-General in 1997. He was promoted to Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General 1997, Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training 1997-98 and Special Minister of State 1998–2001. He was Minister for Justice and Customs between January 2001 and March 2007.[citation needed]

From March 2007 until the defeat of the Howard government in the 2007 election, Ellison was a member of cabinet as Minister for Human Services, overseeing the service delivery of Government agencies including Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.[4] He held the offices of Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, along with Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate from December 2007 to September 2008.[citation needed]

Following the change of Government in November 2007, Senator Ellison was appointed as Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. In addition, Senator Ellison was the Chair of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee.

Senator Ellison is the longest serving Minister for Justice with the portfolio abolished in 2017.

Later careerEdit

On 17 September 2008, Ellison announced he would be resigning, stating that he would like to spend more time with his family.[5] However, he did not formally resign until 30 January 2009.[6] The casual vacancy caused by his resignation was filled by Chris Back.

Ellison was announced as chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Australia in 2017, with effect from 1 January 2018.[7] He had previously served as a governor and director. He has additionally served as a director of construction firm Doric (2011–2015), chairman of the North West Tourism Board (2011–2015), and director of the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (2014–present)[8]


  1. ^ Senate debates Wednesday, 3 December 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Biography for Ellison, the Hon. Christopher Martin". ParlInfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  5. ^ "Ellison quits politics". ABC News. 17 September 2008.
  6. ^ Senate Hansard: Ellison's resignation, 3 February 2009 Archived 27 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Media release".
  8. ^ "The Hon. Chris Ellison". Retrieved 28 June 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
Geoff Prosser
Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs
Succeeded by
Warren Truss
Preceded by
David Kemp
Minister for Schools, Vocational
Education and Training

Title abolished
Preceded by
Nick Minchin
Special Minister of State
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz
Preceded by
Amanda Vanstone
Minister for Justice and Customs
Succeeded by
David Johnston
Preceded by
Ian Campbell
Minister for Human Services
Succeeded by
Joe Ludwig