John Hatzistergos
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Justinian in John Hatzistergos, On the Couch

Away from the oil-stained bilges of NSW politics and resting gently on Justinian’s couch the NSW Attorney General can be surprisingly mellow … A man who is both jovial and charming … Or was he speaking with an unpipped Kalamata olive in his mouth?

John Hatzistergos - "I'll be home late tonight"John Hatzistergos has been on the front line of the government’s Laura Norda agenda.

We’ve seen legislation to outlaw gangs, restrictions on the grant of bail, tougher sentencing for sex and violent offenders, redefining the boundaries between art and pornography and increased powers for the police – all on his watch as Attorney General.

More recently he has introduced mandatory rehabilitation as a sentencing option for offenders – known as “intensive correction orders”.

Oddly, much of his period as Attorney General has been characterised by acrimonious stouches with the NSW DPP Nicolas Cowdery.

Hatzistergos also has been a vociferous opponent of the proposed Charter of Rights, arguing that “tantalising as they sound, charters and bills, with their soaring values and protections enforced through adversarial litigation, do not present the best way forward”.

He’s old boy of Cleveland Street Boys High and the University of Sydney (BEc, LLM).

He joined the East Redfern branch of the ALP in 1976, was secretary of the Campsie branch from 1983 to 1990 and later the Belmore branch from 1993 to 2000.

He ground his way through the hard knocks of local government politics, crowning the experience in 1998 as deputy mayor of Canterbury Council.

He was a solicitor in private practice between 1983 and 1987, including a stint at Beston and Riordan, before joining the Commonwealth DPP.

Hatzistergos went to the NSW bar in 1989.

Apart from being the first law officer of NSW, he’s Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Citizenship and, for the time being, Acting Premier.

Describe yourself in three words.
Diligent. Principled. Jovial.

What are you currently reading?
Othello” and “Arabic for Dummies”.

What’s your favourite film?

Who have been the most influential people in your life?
My parents.

What occupation would you like to have, if you weren’t the Attorney General?
Late night talk back host.

What is your favourite piece of music?
I don’t have one. My collection covers a wide variety of styles.

What is your most recognised talent?
My charm.

What is your greatest fear?
I have a few. A Charter of Rights is one.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
I’ll be late home tonight.”

What is your greatest regret?
Never having learnt to speak Spanish and French.

Whom do you envy and why?
I am not an envious person.

What is currently obsessing you?
The Bulldogs’ fortunes in the NRL.

What’s your most glamorous feature?
My extensive and complete collection of Butterworths’ Criminal Practice and Procedure.

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
Kalamata olive (unpipped).

What human traits do you most distrust?
Those traits worthy of distrust – like dishonesty.

What would you change about Australia?
Make Melbourne exciting.

Whom or what do you consider overrated?
Lady Gaga.

How would you like to die?

What would your epitaph say?
Loving husband and father.

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word “law”?
How you need to keep your eyes open.

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (
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