“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

About Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who practises principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law. He is also a human rights and refugee advocate, and author.

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Alienation – Alien Nation

[This is the text of my  Tim Costello Lecture, given on 18 September 2013.  A number of people have asked me to put it online]   I had a conversation with Tim Costello some years ago which significantly changed my way of seeing things. He told me of a time when...


ON PRIVILEGE [This essay was published in 2009 by Melbourne University Press as part of their series of essays on various subjects] I first saw privilege before I heard the word or learned its meaning. My father’s parents lived in an enormous house in Toorak. With a...

A BIT ABOUT WORDS-Cutting Through

In an earlier essay I drew attention to several strange gaps in the Oxford English Dictionary. And I do mean the 20 volume work, with over 600,000 entries. Strange that there could be any gaps in it. But one of the gaps is philtrum. It is the vertical groove from the...


Summer holidays open the way to all sorts of pastimes. Scrabble is a favourite family game, and it now infests the internet in the form of a game called Words with Friends. It is a seductive little app for the iPad, which looks like Scrabble, but has its bonus squares...

Threatening our way of life

I have been criticised by several people I respect (and a few I do not respect) for a tweet last week in which I said “Sorry to see Andrew Bolt stirring up Islamophobia today on his blog. People like Bolt and Abbott are the real threat to our way of life” This has...

Human Rights & Social Justice

The Arts

Art, music and theatre

Asylum Seekers

Julian on Twitter

@JulianBurnside the right weren't concerned with deaths at sea...it's an argument of convenience Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Deaths at sea are the new excuse for cruelty. Now, we use drownings as excuse to punish survivors. So read this: theconversation.com/factcheck-did-…

Turkey has accepted >1.5 million Syrian refugees, yet we have the chutzpah to think Australia has a refugee problem pic.twitter.com/peEascfBJO Retweeted by Julian Burnside

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Morrison asks Indonesian government to show mercy and compassion #auspol pic.twitter.com/VzIbn5q8hY What a hypocrite

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Cannot wait to hear @JulianBurnside deliver the 2015 Hal Wootten Lecture at @UNSWLaw! An incredible advocate and champion of human rights. Retweeted by Julian Burnside

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” Edward Abbey

You just know a spin doctor has told Abbott 'what we need is flags, lots and lots of flags, that'll win over voters'! pic.twitter.com/HG5okzG7eJ Retweeted by Julian Burnside

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Please RT if you'd like,Joe Hockey investigated by the AFP for inappropriate investment of his allowance #auspol pic.twitter.com/ZhxcvvMWtI Retweeted by Julian Burnside

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Domestic violence has now reached epidemic proportions in Australia. ab.co/17N11DC #dv pic.twitter.com/83MY3N2Sf3 Retweeted by Julian Burnside

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@JulianBurnside @daveyk317 Use fear to consolidate power and control and expect simpletons to swallow all the stories Retweeted by Julian Burnside

Imagine thousands of people being given protection without being welcomed by cruelty and fear m.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/end… pic.twitter.com/6kVrc3RGli Retweeted by Julian Burnside

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The US has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prisoners. The story of America's mass incarceration. ab.co/1EHRfQ9 Retweeted by Julian Burnside