We would like to draw the attention of students and teachers of public law to the 2020 Sir Anthony Mason Essay Competition:

Sir Anthony Mason Constitutional Law Essay Competition
Law Society of NSW Young Lawyers Public Law and Government Committee
Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2020

Students studying an undergraduate or Juris Doctor law degree are invited to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 2,500 words (including footnotes but not bibliography) by 30 September 2020 on one of the following four questions:

Question One 
“Online engagement by public servants, involving robust professional discussion as part of their duties or as private citizens, benefits their agencies, their professional development, those with whom they are engaged and the Australian public … should be enabled and encouraged”. 
Department of Finance and Deregulation, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0 

To what extent (if any) is the implied freedom of political communication discussed in Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23 inconsistent with the Australian Government’s vision of “Government 2.0” (as defined by the Department of Finance and Deregulation in the above report) with respect to political communication over the internet? 

Question Two 
“The independence of the judiciary is more likely to be destroyed by the creeping normalisation of piecemeal borrowing of judicial services to do the work of the legislature or the executive than by any single act of outright conscription”. 
Vella v Commissioner of Police (NSW) [2019] HCA38 [145] (Gageler J) 

Gageler J’s dissenting judgment in Vella cautions the High Court against damaging the institutional integrity of the judiciary. Is Gageler J correct in his quote above? In your response, please support your answer by critically evaluating the nature and scope of judicial power in contrast with legislative and executive powers as provided in the Constitution with reference to case law and any commissions of inquiry. 

Question Three 
Discuss by reference to the history of the Constitution whether court judgments can ever be construed as an acquisition of property on just terms. In discussing the question, please consider the judgment of Edelman J in BMW Australia Ltd v Brewster; Westpac Banking Corporation v Lenthall [2019] HCA 49. Does the answer to the question depend on the nature and form of a court judgment or order, and if so, why? 

Question Four 

“In the Native Title Act (1993 Cth), the Commonwealth Parliament recited that “[the] people whose descendants are now known as Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders were the inhabitants of Australia before European settlement. They have been progressively dispossessed of their lands. “Our legal system would involve a hopeless and incoherent contradiction if it were simultaneously: (i) to recognise and implement this recitation; and (ii) to conclude that those same descendants, identifying and recognised as such, have now become foreigners to the Australian political community”. 
Love v Commonwealth of Australia; Thoms v Same [2020] HCA 3, [454] (Edelman J) 

Love concerned the appropriate scope of the aliens power (s 51(xix)) of the Constitution). Do you agree with Edelman J above? Critically evaluate the above quote with reference to at least one dissenting judgment in Love. 

Please upload your essay as a PDF by 30 September 2020 at this link.

Prize money details
First place: $850; Second place: $500 Third place: $250. The student who wins first prize will also receive the wonderful opportunity to publish their essay on AUSPUBLAW.

The Public Law and Government Committee is grateful for the support of Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE GBM QC, the Law Society of NSW and Gilbert+Tobin Centre of Public Law.

For more information, including terms and conditions, and a competition guide, see here.