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Attorney General of New South Wales

Role of the Attorney General

The Attorney General is the principal adviser to the Government and Cabinet on legal, constitutional and legal policy issues.

The Attorney General has an obligation to ensure the administration of justice in New South Wales is:

  • fair and efficient
  • consistent in the level and nature of penalties imposed under the law
  • observes the rules of natural justice
  • preserves civil liberties.

The Attorney advises the Premier, Cabinet and other Ministers and their departments on legal questions that have been referred to him for opinion.

In providing his opinion, the Attorney General must take into account the legal advice of the Solicitor General, Crown Advocate, Crown Solicitor or the department if provided or requested.

The Attorney General relies on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel on drafting legislation to go before Parliament as Bills, on Regulations and on associated parliamentary procedures.

Advice on legal policy issues is provided through the Director General of the Department of Justice and Attorney General.

The Attorney General is also responsible for the appointment of judges, magistrates and statutory officers in New South Wales.

Legislation allocated to the Attorney General

The Attorney General exercises powers under legislation including:
  • the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 (reviews of convictions)
  • sections 32 & 33 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (indemnities and undertakings)
  • section 47 of the Coroner’s Act 1980
  • the Prisoners (Interstate Transfer) Act 1982
  • the Suitors’ Fund Act 1951
  • the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967.

The Attorney General also has powers and functions relating to:
  • the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy
  • proceedings for contempt of court
  • approval of ex gratia legal assistance
  • ex gratia payments
  • approval for the briefing of Senior Counsel by Government agencies
  • requests for the extradition of offenders from overseas
  • monitoring of and reporting on activities undertaken under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access)(NSW)Act 1987, the Listening Devices Act 1984 and the Workplace Surveillance Act 200.
A full list of legislation allocated to the Attorney General of NSW is available on the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office website.

List of Attorneys-General in NSW 1823-2010

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