Member Spotlight: George Williams  By

Member Spotlight: George Williams

As an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, Sabbatical Homes member George Williams is currently engaged in a five-year international project on anti-terror laws and democracy. He is one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers and public commentators. He is the Anthony Mason Professor, a Scientia Professor and the Foundation Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales.

George is a also well-known media commentator on legal issues. He has been a columnist for The Australian and the Canberra Times and an on-air analyst for ABC Television. He is currently a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. For an interesting change of pace, he also reviews science fiction and fantasy books for The Weekend Australian and Books and Arts Daily on ABC Radio National.

We asked him a few questions about how he sees governments balancing anti-terrorism work with maintaining individual freedoms, as well as tips about how he has rented his home using

Q. How do you see democracy being affected by new anti-terror laws in the quest for increased security?

A. Governments need to protect their communities from the very real danger of terrorism. There is a danger though that this will be taken too far, and that extreme laws will undermine the same democratic freedoms that must be protected from terrorism. Unfortunately, this has been an all too frequent occurrence in Australia and other nations.

Q. As a leading expert in Australian constitutional law, how will the trend in lawmaking within Australia affect its citizens within the next decade?

A. As former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said, we can expect that parliaments will sacrifice the rights of members of the community in the name of national security. It’s hard to see this stopping anytime soon, and so we can expect further and greater intrusions in areas like surveillance.

Q. What’s the most challenging thing about renting your home? And how do you overcome it?

A. Finding someone who we can trust to look after our family home while we are away. Sabbatical Homes did the trick for us. Within a matter of days, we were approached by a family looking for a place to stay in Sydney for the same time we were away. We could not have been happier.

Q. What kinds of questions do you ask potential renters?

A. We looked into their rental experience, and spoke to their referees. We also wanted to know that our home matched their own needs in Sydney.

Q. Do you have a dream sabbatical/travel destination?

A. It’s been wonderful to spend a sabbatical in the United Kingdom. Perhaps New York next?


Sara Priztkat frequently corresponds with Sabbatical Homes members via our communications team. Her goal is to help you optimally use our site to find, or offer, the perfect home exchange or rental. She also enjoys writing about our members, their adventures and accomplishments.

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