Welcome to the March edition of the AUSPUBLAW Australian Public Law Events Roundup for 2016.

Remember, if you have a conference or significant public lecture /seminar that you would like included in this roundup, please contact us at auspublaw@unsw.edu.au.

We’d also remind you again that nominations for the Saunders Prize – for an exceptional article or note on constitutional law in the last year – are currently open until 30 April 2016. Further information can be found here.

Gabrielle Appleby

AUSPUBLAW Blog Coordinator


15 March 2016: Australian Academy of Law Seminar: Judicial Review for Reasonableness in Australian and US Administrative Law

The Honourable Robert French AC Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and Professor Jerry Mashaw Sterling Professor of Law Emeritus and Professorial Lecturer, Yale University

5:30pm-7pm, ANU

The Honourable Robert French AC: The Many Faces of Reasonableness: Reasonableness is a word sometimes associated with judicial review of legislation that infringes constitutional guarantees or prohibitions, and legislation in pursuit of purposive powers. It is also used in relation to the exercise of statutory powers. Those usages and the notion of rationality in administrative action inform limits on the powers of the three branches of government.

Professor Jerry Mashaw: Taming Reasonableness Review: American federal courts have developed a form of reasonableness review that substitutes a demand for rationality and reason giving for straightforward grappling with the reasonableness of administrative actions. That approach will be evaluated against a more direct engagement with reasonableness as ‘proportionality’.

For more information, see the flyer.


16 March 2016: National Centre for Indigenous Studies seminar: The Contours and Prospects for Indigenous Recognition in the Australian Constitution, and Why It Matters

Father Frank Brennan (Adjunct Professor at NCIS and ANU College of Law)

4-5pm, ANU

Professor Frank Brennan thinks there is no prospect of constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians unless the proposal gets the tick from Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Patrick Dodson and Noel Pearson. In this paper (which is the 2015 Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration Oration due for publication in the Australian Law Journal, May 2016) Frank investigates the possibilities. He argues the case more comprehensively in his recent book No Small Change (University of Queensland Press, 2015).

For more information, see the website.


4 April 2016: CPICL Seminar: I am not your (founding) father

Mikolai Barczentewicz (Lecturer in Law, Jesus College, Oxford):

12-1pm, CPICL, University of Queensland

This paper will present a general theory of constitution-making, with a particular emphasis on group agency. On my view, to be a maker of a constitution is (1) to act with an intention authoritatively to make the constitution as law and (2) for one’s authority to be a reason why the constitution is accepted by the community. Some, or even many, constitutions may fail to have founding fathers in this sense. With the analytical toolkit in hand I will consider the cases of several countries (and one international legal regime) where problematic references to the founding fathers tend to happen and I will answer whether the founding fathers talk in those countries is a complete mistake or whether there is a way of making it work, perhaps by refocusing it on different people or groups: the actual constitution-makers. The legal systems I will consider are: Australia, Canada, the United States, South Africa and the legal regime of the European Convention of Human Rights.

For more information, visit the website.


7 April 2016: JSI Seminar Series: The Evolution and Transformation of Judicial Review Regimes

Professor Theunis Rous (UNSW Law)

6-8pm, Julius Stone Institute, University of Sydney

Judicial review regimes self-evidently evolve and change character over time. The Lochner era in the United States, for example, is associated with a shift from a regime in which law claimed authority on the basis of its separateness from politics, to its exact opposite – a regime in which a politicised Supreme Court pursued a substantive vision of social justice and sought authority for its decisions in the moral attractiveness of that vision and its capacity to win public support. But what drives these changes, and is it possible to expand the Lochner example into a more general theory of the evolution and transformation of judicial review regimes? This paper, the theoretical chapter from a forthcoming study of the Politico-Legal Dynamics of Judicial Review, addresses itself to these questions. Taking the Lochner example as paradigmatic, the paper argues that judicial review regimes evolve on the back of competing claims to legal and political authority in respect of major policy choices. It then presents a typology of four judicial review regimes based on a stylised account of the main types of legal and political authority claim. The remainder of the study uses these four ideal types as an heuristic to investigate the way in which actually existing judicial review regimes stabilise around particular forms of law/politics interaction and the factors that occasionally drive (or fail to drive) a transition to new forms. The practical dimension of the study concerns its implications for the way constitutional democrats (judges, other legal professionals and civil society activists and social movements) engage judicial review regimes.

For more information, visit the website.


14-15 April 2016: The National Law Reform Conference

Australian National University

The National Law Reform Conference will be a forum for research about future directions in six key areas of law in society, including public law(constitutional law, Indigenous constitutional issues, governance, administrative law).

For further information, including the program and registrations, the visit the website.


27 April 2016: Seminar:  Rationality and Reasonableness

5:30-7pm, Australian Association of Law, IMAS Building, Hobart

The Honourable Robert French AC

See the flyer for further details.


31 May-1 June 2016 National Conference on Migration, Media and Integration/Social Cohesion


This conference brings together researchers, policy makers, service providers, media producers, community leaders and stakeholders from key government and non-governmental organisations from all over Australia to collectively contribute towards improving policy, research and practice in issues of Migration, Media and Social cohesion.

More information is available on the website.


SAVE THE DATE: 22 July 2016 Castan Centre Conference

More information will be posted on the website as it becomes available.


26-28 September 2016 Australian Political Studies Association Conference 2016: The Politics of Justice and Rights: challenges and future directions

UNSW Australia

The concepts of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ are at the heart of political theory and practice. A driving question of political scholarship is how best to conceive of a just society with political principles, institutions and policies that protect the rights of all. This concern extends to the global level where the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights are at the forefront of political debate.

The challenges and future direction of rights and justice set the theme for the 2016 Australian Political Science Association (APSA) Conference, hosted by the School of Social Sciences, UNSW. Scholars working in International Relations, Political Science, Political Philosophy, Public Policy, Law and aligned disciplines are invited to submit papers for the conference.

Call for papers now open until 25 March 2016 


12-14 September 2016: Cambridge Public Law Conference

University of Cambridge Centre for Public Law

Theme: ‘The Unity of Public Law?’

From 12 to 14 September 2016, the Centre for Public Law at the University of Cambridge will hold the second in a series of biennial international Public Law Conferences. Under the theme “The Unity of Public Law?” the conference will examine — through comparative, doctrinal, institutional and theoretical lenses — whether Public Law can or ought to be conceived of as a unified discipline. Keynote speakers include The Rt Hon Lord Reed (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom), The Hon Robert French (Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia) and The Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias (Chief Justice of New Zealand). Registration for the conference is now open. Further information about the conference can be found on the website.