The Honourable Robert Hill AC

Honorary award citation


The Honourable Robert Hill, AC, is an Australian statesman whose contributions to national and global affairs have created positive legacies across a wide domain, from the environment and human rights, to defence and higher education.

During almost four decades in public life he has been Australia’s voice to the United Nations, served as Commonwealth Environment and later Defence Minister, represented South Australia in the Senate, and become a highly respected leader in the not-for-profit sector.

Mr Hill’s tenure as Environment Minister from 1996 until 2002 continues to constitute the longest stretch in the portfolio by any Australian Commonwealth Minister.

He used the authority of office to reform key aspects of legislation and policy regarding the environment and natural heritage.

This included instituting the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which remains the key national framework for environmental protection - particularly with respect to matters of national significance.

As a politician willing to heed high-quality research, he responded to growing evidence of deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, by instigating the Park’s redesign. He also introduced an oceans policy that made way for a network of Commonwealth Marine Reserves.

Furthermore, he was responsible for the Natural Heritage Trust, an environmental rescue package that at inception was the nation’s largest-ever environmental fund. He was renowned for meticulously reading every application and informing himself on funded projects.

He was Defence Minister between November 2001 and January 2006. His tenure included considerable reforms in the administration of the vast defence bureaucracy, a strengthening of Australia’s defence relationships with close partners (especially in Asia), and a period of intense deployment of the Australian Defence Force in overseas missions.

He retired from Parliament in 2006 after 25 years as a Senator, 10 of those as Leader of the Government in the Senate. His Parliamentary service later earned him a Companion of the Order of Australia.

His record as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, from 2006 until 2009, includes championing the Responsibility to Protect, a norm that seeks to prevent, or at least respond to, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.

The esteem he has earned across the community is evident in the number and quality of appointments he has held since 2009.

Until recently he was chair of the advisory board to The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute. He currently chairs the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, the New South Wales Biodiversity Conservation Trust, and the Antarctic Science Research Foundation.

For four years he was Chancellor of the University of Adelaide (which, like the University of London, is his alma mater). He was Adjunct Professor, later Professorial Fellow, in the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, and directed the centre’s Dow Sustainability Program.

Mr Hill is also a past chair of Low Carbon Australia, a former President of the United Nations Association of Australia, and an erstwhile deputy chair of the International Democratic Union.

Chancellor, I present to you The Honourable Robert Hill, Companion of the Order of Australia, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws, and Doctor of Laws honoris causa of The University of Adelaide, and Master of Laws of the University of London, for the award of Doctor of Political Science honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.


Doctor of Political Science honoris causa


Doctor of Pharmacy