Welcome to the June edition of the AUSPUBLAW Australian Public Law Events Roundup. The events in this roundup were compiled in late May. Due to the evolving nature of responses to COVID-19, some of the below events may have been cancelled, postponed or otherwise amended. Please consult the link for each event for notification of any changes.

AUSPUBLAW also maintains a a regularly updated (at least once a month) page outlining recent key Australian High Court public law decisions, with links to summaries of these decisions. Also included on this page are any significant international and foreign decisions in public law that we believe will be of interest to our readers. You can find this page here.

Remember, if you have an AUSPUBLAW opportunity, conference or significant public lecture that you would like included in this roundup, please contact us at auspublaw@unsw.edu.au. The roundup is published once a month on the first business day of the month, so please let us know in time for that deadline (i.e. at least a day beforehand).

Children’s Rights and Reconciliation
Melbourne Law School
Date: 1 June 2020
Time:  12:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Melbourne Law School and Melbourne School of Government present this engaging webinar, “Children’s Rights and Reconciliation”.

How is the process of reconciliation strengthening the rights of aboriginal children and young people? What are the barriers that stand in the way?

Join an insightful dialogue on the rights of aboriginal children and young people between Melbourne Law School’s children’s rights expert, Professor John Tobin and Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Justin Mohamed.  

For further information, and to register, click here.

Towards a Reconciled Australia – The Role of the Legal Industry
Melbourne Law School
Date:  3 June 2020
Time:  1:00 pm (AEST)
Location:  Online

Melbourne Law School Dean, Professor Pip Nicholson will talk with Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia about the successes and challenges that arise on the path to reconciliation, within the legal industry and beyond. How will a reconciled Australia be achieved? Does the legal industry make a meaningful impact in achieving this? How can we do better?

For further information, and to register, click here.

Love v Commonwealth: Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians?
Australian Association of Constitutional Law, Monash University
Date: 3 June 2020
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 pm (AEST)
Location: Online

The Australian Association of Constitutional Law is pleased to invite you to its first nationwide free online event.

In the recent case of Love v Commonwealth, in powerful judgments reminiscent of Mabo v Queensland [No 2], four judges of the High Court declared that Indigenous Australians can never be ‘aliens’ for the purposes of s 51(xix) of the Australian Constitution. In strong dissents, three judges refused to introduce a race-based distinction into the head of power.

With political debate about a referendum largely on hold, has the High Court achieved constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians by judicial interpretation of the Australian Constitution? By adopting Brennan J’s tripartite test of indigeneity in Mabo, has the High Court inadvertently entrenched a rigid notion of what it means to be Indigenous? If the result in Love is another expression of the ‘deeper truth’ from which native title springs, are there any other expressions waiting to be uncovered? By recognising that Indigenous elders have the power to say who is and who is not Indigenous, has a majority of the High Court fractured sovereignty, or have they ruled out Indigenous sovereignty by bringing Indigenous people within the concept of ‘the people’.


Stephen Keim SC was called to the Bar in 1985 and took silk in 2004. Stephen has a broad practice and has worked in most areas of law. He appeared for the plaintiffs in the High Court in Love v Commonwealth, and has also appeared in a number of other constitutional cases, including the recent case of Spence v Queensland.

Timothy Goodwin was called to Bar in 2014 and practices primarily in commercial and public law. He appeared for the State of Victoria intervening in Love v Commonwealth. He serves on a number of boards, including as a Board Member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Tim is a member of the Yuin people of the South East Coast of New South Wales.

Melia Benn was called to the Bar in 2018, with previous experience as Counsel Assisting the Coroner and as a senior lawyer for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Melia is a descendant of the Mamu and Gungangji peoples, and is one of only two Indigenous women at the Queensland bar.

Dr Shireen Morris is a Teaching Associate at Monash Law School and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School. Her new book A First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution will be published by Hart Publishing later this year. Shireen previously worked at the Cape York Institute and worked extensively on constitutional recognition issues.

For further information and to register, click here.

COVID-19 and International Refugee Law
Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Sydney
Date:  4 June 2020
Time: 5:00 – 5:45 pm (AEST)
Location:  Online

Refugees and other forced migrants are among the world’s most resilient people, but without medical, economic and social support, even the most resourceful will be unable to escape the impacts of COVID-19.

Scientia Professor Jane McAdam, Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney, will address the differential impact of the pandemic on displaced people, showcasing the Kaldor Centre’s blog, COVID-19 Watch, and will also consider the twin ‘crises’ of COVID-19 and climate change on mobility in our region.

Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commission for Protection, will reflect on the following: As we look forward to celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, COVID-19 has undermined the fundamental norms of human rights and refugee law as almost no other crisis has done. Over 160 states have closed their borders and suspended or restricted access to asylum and many have pushed back those seeking protection, risking refoulement. Once the virus subsides, the longer term challenges are to ensure that regressive laws are not ‘baked in’ and that the social and economic impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people are addressed.

Each presentation will be approximately 10-15 mins, allowing 15 minutes for responses to questions via the Zoom chat function.

For further information, and to register, click here.

National Security and the Constitution
Australian Association of Constitutional Law
Date: 4 June 2020
Time:  5:30 – 7:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online

AACL is delighted to welcome the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, statutory office holders with royal commission powers over national security agencies.  As they reach the end of their terms of office, they will speak about topical legal issues encountered in the course of their important independent oversight roles.  The IGIS reviews the activities of intelligence agencies including ASIO and ASIS.  Recent reviews by the INSLM have concerned encryption legislation, citizenship loss provisions, and the terrorism trials of children.

The Hon Margaret Stone AO FAAL, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
Dr James Renwick CSC SC, Independent National Security Legislation Monitor

Commentator: Bret Walker SC, NSW Bar

Chair: Dr Shipra Chordia, NSW Bar

For further information, and to register, click here.

Privacy, Technology and Crisis Response: Case Studies from Australia, Singapore, Mainland China and Hong Kong
University of Sydney China Studies Centre, Centre for Asia and Pacific Law, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre
Date: 9 June 2020
Time: 11:00 – 12:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online

This event seeks to compare legal perspectives on the experience of technology, privacy, and COVID-19 crisis response in Australia, Singapore, Mainland China and Hong Kong, which are not typically considered together. By comparatively exploring the legal frameworks for the COVIDsafe app in Australia, there is the potential to enhance international coordination in digital responses to public health crises, including issues such as:
– Digital pandemic surveillance measures and their legal frameworks: Australia’s COVIDSafe app, Mainland China’s Alipay or Wechat Health Code, Singapore’s TraceTogether, and Hong Kong StayHomeSafe app with accompanying electronic wristband;
– The tension/coordination between protecting privacy and combating COVID-19;
– Transnational movement of people/virus and lack of international cooperation of health information sharing.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Australian Institute of Administrative Law Late Afternoon Webinar: Unreasonableness
Australian Institute of Administrative Law
Date: 9 June 2020
Time: 5.30 pm
Location: Teleconference via Zoom

Some still see the concept of “unreasonableness” applying without much analysis in applications coming before the Courts.  In this presentation, Ms Wheatley QC and Mr McGlade seek to bring order and rigour to the concept, discussing recent cases and what an applicant must seek to establish to have “reasonable” prospects of success.

Amelia Wheatley QC practices principally in public law, with a particular focus on administrative law (predominately judicial review) and revenue matters.  She also has a broader commercial and insolvency litigation practice.
Ben McGlade was first called to the bar in 2010.  He practices in commercial and administrative law.  He has particular expertise and experience in the area of judicial review having extensively appeared both for and against government departments in respect of such matters.

The Hon Justice Andrew Greenwood was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia in 2005.  He is now President of the Copyright Tribunal (having been a member for some years).  He is also a Presidential member of the AAT, and Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal.

The webinar is open to all members of the AIAL and to any interested members of the public. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Inquiries can be directed to the AIAL Secretariat on 02 6290 1505, or at aial@commercemgt.com.au. To register, click here.

Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law Webinar Series: Public Law Responses to COVID-19 – COVID-19 and COVIDSafe
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, Allens Law + Technology Hub and New Economic Policy Initiative
Date: 12 June 2020
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online (registrants will be emailed link on morning of webinar)

Over the next few months, the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW will be running a series of webinars discussing the impact on and responses of public law to the COVID-19 pandemic. These webinars will be collaborative exercises, drawing on the expertise of members of our partner Centres, our colleagues from universities and institutes across Australia, and legal professionals, as well as Centre members, affiliates, and alumni.

This webinar will examine the COVIDSafe App launched by the Australian government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will consider the design and function of the app and the legal restrictions on its use, as part of a broader discussion of its potential risks and benefits and public trust in government operated technology.

Professor Lyria Bennett Moses, Director of the Allens Hub on Law, Technology and Innovation at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law
Dr Caroline Compton, Research Associate at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law
Associate Professor Kate Galloway, Griffith University Law School
Associate Professor David Byrnes, Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne
Associate Professor Joshua Miller, Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne

Dr Lisa Burton Crawford, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales

For further information, and to register, click here.

Making Judges in Commonwealth Judiciaries
Australian Academy of Law
Date: 24 June 2020
Time:  3:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online

An online presentation which will discuss the need for a critical re-examination of the practice of finding ready-made judges among legal practitioners.

Ms Jessica Kerr, PhD Candidate at the University of Western Australia

For further information, and to register, click here.

Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law Webinar Series: Public Law Responses to COVID-19 – COVID-19 and COVIDSafe
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, and New Economic Policy Initiative
Date: 12 June 2020
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (AEST)
Location: Online (registrants will be emailed link on morning of webinar)

This webinar will focus on restrictions to various human rights – such as freedom of movement and association, and the right to an adequate standard of living. It will note the various countervailing human rights arguments for imposing restrictions of this kind – including the right to the highest attainable level of health. Drawing on public health and economic experts, as well as experts on human rights and proportionality, it will debate how these different rights are best weighed or balanced – or how we achieve a truly proportionate set of restrictions on some rights in the name of protecting others.

Professor Richard Holden, Director, New Economic Policy Initiative, University of New South Wales
Professor Marylouise McLaws, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales; Member, World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19
Mr Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Professor Rosalind Dixon, Director, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales

For further information and to register click here.

The Reception, Quality and Evaluation of Scientific Evidence in Australian Courts
Australian Academy of Law, Australian Academy of Science
Date: 19 August 2020
Time: 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Location: Federal Court, Court No 1, Level 21, Law Courts Building, Queen’s Square, Sydney NSW

A panel of experts on science and law will be asked questions by The Hon Justice Virginia Bell of the High Court of Australia on the topic of scientific proof and legal proof. If the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the holding of the event on 19 August, it will be postponed to a later date and registrants will be informed well in advance of the postponement and registration fees paid (see below) will be refunded.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Relighting a Lamp of the Constitution? Prorogation in the United Kingdom Courts and its Implications
University of Queensland School of Law, Supreme Court Library of Queensland
Date: 12 November 2020
Time: 5:00 – 6:45 pm
Location: Banco Court, Supreme Court of Queensland, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law Complex, 415 George Street, Brisbane QLD

The judgment of the UK Supreme Court in Miller (No 2) [2019] UKSC 41 that a prorogation of Parliament in September 2019 under the prerogative power was “unlawful, void and of no effect” is politically and legally controversial. It has led the newly elected government in the United Kingdom to announce a review of the constitutional relationships between the political and judicial branches of government. Eminent legal scholars have variously described the decision itself as either “wholly unjustified by law” or one that has “relit a lamp of the constitution”.  The paper examines such claims. 

The case is the latest in a line in which the courts in the United Kingdom have sought to explain the principles and values of the British constitution and the role of the courts in protecting them from legislative or executive encroachment. Such cases turn on assessments of what is “constitutional” or “fundamental” in statutes and in common law and are hostile to encroachment by the executive or legislative branches.  The reasoning of the courts has been criticised for applying the methods of modern administrative law to matters of high policy.  In Miller (No 2), as in the earlier Miller (No 1), the focus is the institutional architecture of the constitution, rather than the more familiar context for constitutional contest of individual freedom and rights.  There are differences of opinion as to whether judges in such cases are carrying out their inevitable responsibilities under the rule of law to maintain and explain the constitution or whether they tip over into illegitimate constitution-building. 

The changing scope of the political constitution of the United Kingdom post-Brexit and post-devolution and the incongruity of a constitution still based on the “efficient secret” of the near complete fusion of the executive and legislative powers of the state, may lead to a new constitutional settlement in the United Kingdom.  If so, Miller may come to be seen as a product of a set of circumstances that were “unique”, as the Court in is reasons suggested it was, and the march of common law constitutionalism may subside.  If not, Miller may point to further judicial development of the United Kingdom constitution.

The paper examines whether Miller is properly to be seen as part of what Justice Gummow once described as “the continuing intellectual agonies attending British constitutionalism”, of little relevance to constitutionalism in Australia or other common law jurisdictions with their own unique constitutional histories.  It suggests that the reasoning employed by the United Kingdom Supreme Court has implications for the continuing tug in all jurisdictions between the political and the legal (and in particular the concepts of “justiciability” and “parliamentary sovereignty”). It also has implications for the role in constitutional law of substantive values, many derived from antecedent common law in our shared traditions.  It questions whether the High Court’s location of sovereignty in the Australian Constitution and the stricter separation of powers under the Constitution will accelerate divergence in constitutionalism from jurisdictions such as Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. 

For further information and to register, click here.

Twenty-Third Geoffrey Sawer Lecture
ANU College of Law, Centre for International and Public Law
Date:  7 December 2020
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Australian National University, Canberra ACT

We are delighted to welcome back the inaugural director of the ANU Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL), Professor Philip Alston, NYU Law and United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to deliver the annual Geoffrey Sawer Lecture at 6pm on 7 December 2020. Registration for this event will open in mid-2020.

Following this lecture, ANU Law will host a two-day conference on public law and inequality. This major public law conference will mark the 60th anniversary of ANU Law and the 30th anniversary of CIPL. 

For further information, click here.

ANU Law 60th Anniversary Conference: Public Law and Inequality
ANU College of Law
Date:  8 – 9 December 2020
Location: Australian National University, Canberra ACT

To mark the 60th anniversary of ANU Law and the 30th anniversary of the Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL), a major public law conference will be held at the Australian National University in Canberra, on 8-9 December 2020.

Conference theme: Public Law and Inequality

Growing inequality is a defining challenge of our times, domestically and globally. Yet the role of inequality in social, political and economic life is often muted (sometimes, invisible) in much public law scholarship. Notably, public law’s foundational concepts were forged in a social world where the inevitability of inequality was often taken for granted. The stuttering processes of democratisation have rendered that assumption untenable. 

However, although public law scholarship has considered how the field can contribute to political equality, there has been less focus, particularly in recent decades, on the relationship between public law and material equality. The question of whether equality is achievable in a world of yawning disparities in wealth can no longer be brushed aside.

How do public law concepts, institutions and norms frame or contribute to political and material inequality? How can public law and public law scholarship contribute to clear thinking about the set of problems associated with pervasive inequity in contemporary society?

For further information, click here.