New Commonwealth DPP and Commissioners appointed

By Melissa Coade|08 May 2016

Last week the Attorney-General announced the appointment of three legal industry figures to national positions.

Sarah McNaughton SC has been made Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Edward Santow Human Rights Commissioner and Alastair McEwin Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

Welcoming the new DPP, Attorney-General Senator George Brandis said that he was “confident Ms McNaughton's appointment would ensure the office continues to provide the highest-quality prosecution services to the Australian community".

Ms McNaughton has 27 years’ experience as a legal practitioner and joined the NSW Bar in 1996. She was appointed senior counsel in 2011. She has held a range of roles in private practice and with the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.


Ms McNaughton has acted as counsel for prosecution and defence in a number of complex criminal trials and has specialist expertise in offences related to taxation, corporate crime, drug importation and terrorism. She replaces Robert Bromwich, following his recent appointment as a Federal Court judge.

The Law Council of Australia president Stuart Clark described Ms McNaughton’s appointment as an “outstanding choice”.

“With almost three decades experience as a legal practitioner, and a respected member of the NSW Bar, Ms McNaughton is extremely well placed to serve as the nation’s lead criminal prosecutor," Mr Clark said.

“Ms McNaughton’s skills and experience make her an ideal candidate to fill the role of Commonwealth DPP.”

Mr Clark also welcomed the appointment of Mr Santow as Human Rights Commissioner and Mr McEwin as Disability Discrimination Commissioner.


“Mr Santow and Mr McEwin are both fellow members of the legal profession,” Mr Clark said.

Mr Santow serves the CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre is a director of the Australian Pro Bono Centre.

Senator Brandis said Mr Santow had a “very strong academic and practical knowledge of human rights”.

“I am confident that he will successfully prosecute the case for our fundamental political freedoms in Australia,” Senator Brandis said.

Mr Clark added: “Mr Santow has also worked at the Australian Law Reform Commission and as a solicitor in private practice. His sharp legal skill set will serve him well as he promotes and protects the human rights of all Australians.”

The LCA president described Mr McEwin as a strident advocate for the rights of people with a disability.

“His long and distinguished resume includes being the former manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law. In this former role, he was charged with promoting and protecting the human and legal rights of people with disability and their supporters through legal advocacy,” Mr Clark said.

According to the Attorney-General, Mr McEwin is a “long-standing advocate for the rights of people with disability, and has represented the interests of people with disability at all levels”. He is a former CEO of People with Disability Australia and a former manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law. 

The Hon Dr Kay Patterson was also announced as the new Age Discrimination Commissioner.

New Commonwealth DPP and Commissioners appointed
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