Mark Dreyfus is an Australian politician and lawyer who has served as the Attorney-General of Australia and Cabinet Secretary since June 2022. Mr. Dreyfus worked as a barrister specialising in commercial, constitutional and environmental law before becoming a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and being elected the MP for Isaacs in the 2007 election. He also served as Shadow Attorney-General from 2013 to 2022 while Labor was in opposition.
The High Court’s Indefinite Detention Decision
Mr. Dreyfus saw significant media attention following the Australian High Court’s decision regarding indefinite detention. After roughly 150 people had been released with three having been arrested or charged Mr. Dreyfus, alongside Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, and Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, addressed a press conference in early December.
After Ms. O’Neil answered a reporter who asked if the ministers owed an apology to the communities which had been “subjected to the misdeeds by some of these people” Mr. Dreyfus also responded, stating that he would not apologise for upholding the law:
“I want to suggest to you that question is an absurd question. You are asking a cabinet minister, three ministers of the Crown, to apologise for upholding the law of Australia, for acting in accordance with the law of Australia, for following the instructions of the High Court of Australia. I will not be apologising for upholding the law. I will not be apologising for pursuing the rule of law and I will not be apologising for acting...”
At this point Mr. Dreyfus told the reporter, Olivia Caisley, to “not interrupt” as Ms. Caisley attempted to interject, before continuing to state that he would not be apologising for acting in accordance with a high court decision and calling the question “an absurd one.”
Following the exchange, Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton, questioned why female Labor MPs had not called out Mr. Dreyfus for his “misogynistic behaviour.”
The exchange took place just over a month following Mr. Dreyfus’ wife, Deborah, having passed away after an extended battle with cancer.
Earlier in 2023 Ms. Caisley was involved in a similarly tense interaction with former-Prime Minister, Paul Keating. After Ms. Caisley asked Mr. Keating why he was certain that China was not a threat to Australia’s interests he had responded “because I have a brain.”
Sources & Further Reading