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The new Dean of Law at UNSW, Professor George Williams, AO, has big plans for the university. He wants it to have a greater presence overseas. At home, he wants to fight to protect Australia’s democracy. He discusses his concerns about the gay marriage plebiscite, ASIO’s powers to strip people of citizenship, and the Indigenous referendum.

George Williams lives a stone’s throw from the University of NSW. When I arrive at his house, I am struck by its appearance. I’ve never seen a home with children that’s so clean. Williams and his wife, Emma, a UNSW academic in the field of corporate law, have two children, Edward, 10, and Ellie, 6. The couple met in 1987 while studying first-year law at Macquarie University and have been together ever since.

The house is dotted with tiny chairs and toys, and there is evidence of Williams’ passion for science fiction and fantasy. He is a regular reviewer of the genres for The Weekend Australian and ABC Radio National. It is his escape from an intense work schedule that often addresses the darker side of human behaviour.

As I talk to Williams about his new job as Dean of the Faculty of Law, I ask him what he would like as his legacy. He has been in the job less than six weeks, yet his plans are crystal clear. UNSW Law School is ranked 13th in the world, thanks to the work of his predecessor, Professor David Dixon. Williams wants to build on his successes in three ways. He wants to build on the school’s already strong international relationships.

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