Gerry Bates was born in Lancashire, England in 1950. He received a Bachelor of Laws and a PhD from the University of Birmingham, where he later became a tutor. He was also a senior lecturer at Birmingham Polytechnic before emigrating to Australia.
Bates worked as a lecturer in environmental law at the University of Tasmania until the 1986 state election, when he was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly for Franklin as an Independent Green.
In 1989, Bates along with Bob Brown, Lance Armstrong, Di Hollister and Christine Milne, formed the Tasmanian Greens.
Bates resigned from the House of Assembly in 1995 to contest the seat of Queenborough in the Legislative Council but was unsuccessful. He is now an adjunct professor at the Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney, as well as an adjunct professor at the ANU’s Australian Centre for Environmental Law (ACEL).
Bates is the author of Environmental Law in Australia, Corporate Liability for Pollution and Pollution Law in Australia, and the editor of the Environment and Planning Law Journal. In 1994, he received a special award from the National Environmental Law Association for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Law.