Welcome to the December edition of the AUSPUBLAW Australian Public Law Events Roundup. The events in this roundup were compiled in late November. 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.

Before we get to the events roundup, we would like to draw your attention to the following opportunity:

Baxter Family Competition on Federalism
Peter MacKell Chair on Federalism, McGill University Faculty of Law
Date: May 2021
Location: Montreal
Deadline for Submissions: 1 February 2021

The Peter MacKell Chair on Federalism is delighted to launch the 3rd edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism. We invite you to consult the Call for papersThe deadline for submissions is February 1, 2021. 

This edition’s overall theme is Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times. This broad theme should allow for reflections about the impact of federalism on the current COVID-19 crisis – and vice versa – but by no means should entries be limited to this context. Comparative perspectives are particularly encouraged. 

For the first time, the Competition will be open both to law and political science students/PhD candidates, as well as junior scholars and practitioners from around the world. 

Contributors must be registered students or have obtained their degrees, in law or political science, less than 5 years before the submission deadline of 1 February 2021. Submissions must be of a maximum 8,000 words in English and 8,800 words in French, including footnotes. 

The prizes will be awarded by a prestigious international jury

The three winners will be invited to present their papers at a symposium in May 2021 in Montreal (circumstances allowing). First-, second- and third-place winners will be awarded prizes of $5,000$3,000, and $1,000 (CAD) respectively.  

Please see the Call for papers for information on author eligibility and paper criteria.  Information on the first two editions of the Competition (as well as the winning essays) may be found 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.

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 will be 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.

Constitutional Struggles in Asia
National University of Singapore Centre for Asian Legal Studies, ANU College of Law
Date: 1 – 3 December 2020
Location: Online

The Asia region is experiencing a wave of constitutional strains, with political and social disruptions that are threatening the foundations of their legal and governance systems. Countries such as Cambodia, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Thailand are undergoing regime change, political turmoil, and authoritarian surges that challenge the tenets contained within their respective constitutions. While specific conditions and events across countries vary, the collective trends reflect significant struggles in upholding principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law. These issues are not only confined to the more stable democracies; they are also emerging in democratising countries. Asia therefore presents an interesting laboratory for investigating and theorising the constitutional struggles that have developed and evolved in the region.

The project underpinning this webinar seeks to explore the causes, complexities, and implications of constitutional struggles occurring in countries within the Asian region. To that end, it will consider a range of questions including: What are the nature and scale of the threats to constitutionalism? What are the linkages to broader contextual issues affecting constitutional understanding? In what ways are the current constitutional struggles similar to or different from the past? How are concepts of constitutionalism changing? What are the normative concerns associated with these constitutional threats? What are the implications of current constitutional crises, either for individually affected countries, the Asian region, or partners outside the region?

For further information, click here.

Swaying or Straying? Australia’s Influence on Freedom of Expression and the Right to a Fair Trial in International Law
International Law Association (Australia Branch)
Date: 2 December 2020
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Location: Online

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) is hosting an end of year event featuring Professor Philippa Webb, King’s College London.

In recent studies of geopolitical influence, Australia has been labelled a ‘hemispheric power’, more influential than India and Russia. There is also a long held view that Australia is a ‘middle power’ than can ‘punch above our weight’. By focusing on Australia’s influence on two critical protections – freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial – I will examine whether Australia is shaping international law (swaying) or forging its own, potentially violative path (straying). I will distil some of the key debates in international law and identify Australia’s contribution to the law through its state practice and the jurisprudence of international human rights bodies.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Taming the Terminator: Law, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence
ANU College of Law
Date: 2 December 2020
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm (AEST)
Location:  Online

Over the past decade, advances in machine learning have led to major breakthroughs in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Will machine intelligence surpass human intelligence within the next few decades? How can we protect against unintended consequences? Can the law keep pace with rapid technological progress?

Join a panel of leading interdisciplinary experts as they explore the complex legal and ethical challenges AI and automated decision-making present to industry, government and the legal profession.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Aboriginal Lives Matter in Australia
Centre for Crime, Law and Justice at the Faculty of Law, UNSW
Date: 2 December 2020
Time: 6:00 – 7:15 pm
Location: Online

2020 has been an important year in the ongoing struggle to address the over-criminalisation and over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) is committed to supporting and amplifying the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars, advocates and activists who have been campaigning for justice on these issues for decades.

This free public web-based event invites speakers to share reflections on the achievements, failures and lessons learned in 2020, and to speak on future priorities, actions and campaigns.

Confirmed speakers include Peta MacGillivray, Teela Reid and Alison Whittaker.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Beijing Platform for Action at 25: Progress, Retreat and the Future of Women’s Rights
Institute for International Law and Humanities at Melbourne Law School, Australian Human Rights Institute at the Faculty of Law, UNSW
Date: 3 December 2020
Time: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm  (AEDT)
Location: Online

The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in September 1995. The Conference adopted a Declaration and a Platform for Action, which identified 12 ‘critical areas of concern’: poverty, access to education; access to healthcare; violence against women; armed conflict; economic inequality; inequality in power and decision-making; promotion of the advancement of women; women’s human rights; media stereotyping of women; the environment; the girl child.

While the Beijing Conference and its outcome documents were regarded as an ambivalent success by some contemporary observers, 25 years later it seems a very progressive moment in the history of women’s rights.

Global politics have changed to the point that it is difficult to imagine that the Declaration or Platform could be negotiated in the same terms today.

To mark the occasion of Beijing +25 and to consider the influence of the conference and outcome documents, the Institute for International Law and the Humanities (Melbourne Law School) together with the Australian Human Rights Institute (UNSW Sydney), are co-hosting a conference to consider the advances, and retreats, in the situation of women internationally over the past 25 years. It will also identify possible avenues for responding to gender inequality and women’s rights now and into the future.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Change Makers: Lawyer X Royal Commission
Monash Law
Date: 8 December 2020
Time: 4:00 – 5:30 pm (AEDT)
Location: Online

The biggest event in recent history for Victoria’s Justice system is undoubtedly the Lawyer X Scandal. The Police use of Nicola Gobbo as an informant on her clients, while also acting as their legal representation brought into question the ethics of both the police and the legal profession.

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, in particular its handling of Nicola Gobbo and her double life of Barrister and Police informant, has piqued the interest of many Victorians who are questioning the fundamentals of our justice system.

Join our panel of experts as we unpick the findings of the royal commission, including:
• What are the key findings and recommendations?
• What do these findings mean for the police, legal profession, justice system and community as a whole?
• The role of public and professional ethics going forward.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Constitutional Law 2020: Ten Cases of COVID-19 and One Case of Love
Australian Association of Constitutional Law
Date: 9 December 2020
Time: 5:15 – 6:30 pm (ACDT)
Location: ‘The Court Yard’, Level 16, 10 Franklin Street, Adelaide SA and online

The South Australian Chapter of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law is pleased to present ‘Constitutional Law 2020: Ten Cases of COVID-19 and One Case of Love’.

The event will involve a series of short presentations (some serious; some more light-hearted) by presenters in South Australia and interstate, about a range of cases and issues arising in Australian Constitutional Law during 2020. This will be the annual ‘end of year’ event for the South Australian Chapter of the AACL. For the first time, online attendance will be possible.

For people who are able to attend in person in South Australia, the event will be held at ‘The Court Yard’, Level 16, 10 Franklin Street, Adelaide (BHP/GPO Exchange Building). Please note: numbers of in-person attendees are strictly limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The event will also be live-streamed using Microsoft Teams, meaning that registration is open to AACL members and members of the public around Australia.

Please note that registration for the event, via ‘Eventbrite’ is essential. For this purpose, we have created two separate Eventbrite ‘events’ — an in person event and an online event. Registration for the in-person event will be essential to gain access to the building. People who register for the ‘online’ event will later be sent an email providing the link to enable them to join via Microsoft Teams. 

To register to attend in person, click here.

To register to attend online, click here.

2020 ACCEL Distinguished Speaker Address: “First Law a Gift to Healing and Transforming Just Us!”
University of Sydney Law School
Date: 9 December 2020
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 pm (AEDT)
Location: Online

Speaker: Adjunct Professor Anne Poelina, Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian

Dr Poelina’s presentation includes a short film, ‘Warloongarriy Law First Law’ (20mins). The presentation includes visual poetry to portray the meaning of ‘First Law’. Dr Poelina makes the connection between the beginning of the Anthropocene and the attempts of humans to dominate and control the natural environment through technological and economic advancement which have altered earth and human systems. There is a strong international consciousness that human activity has induced climate change which is quickly spiralling into climate chaos. As we move into 2021, the world’s earth systems are facing unprecedented risks pushing the planetary boundaries towards multi-species extinction and ultimate collapse. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018) report contextualises the transformative changes needed to overcome the societal, economic, and legal challenges and biodiversity threats associated with climate change.

Dr Poelina and other Indigenous leaders globally are extending the gift of Indigenous First Law as a vital ingredient to give Mother Earth a climate chance. First Law stories as Indigenous Jurisprudence is one part of the collective wisdom, necessary to balance the planet, away from extinction. Together in a Law of Relationships between human and non-human beings, Indigenous people believe we can take these learnings of First Law to reframe legal regimes and an ethics of care. A shift holistically from individualism back to communityism, from the I to the We is needed! The challenge is to take the gift of First Law offered by Australia’s original peoples as ways of knowing and being to address planetary collapse. We need to consider healing and re-imagining transformation, and must begin with Just Us! First Law recognises that land and living waters are the source of the law and brings an inter-jurisdictional dimension to the field of Indigenous jurisprudence.

For further information, and to register, click here.

2021 Public Law in the Classroom Workshop & Book Launch
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, UNSW
Public Law and Policy Research Unit, Adelaide Law School
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law, Monash University
Date: 11 February 2021
Time: 11.00 am – 2.30 pm AEDT (workshop); 3.00 pm (book launch)
Location: Online

We invite you to register for the seventh annual Public Law in the Classroom workshop to be held via Zoom on Thursday, 11 February 2021. The past six workshops have been a great success, each attracting around 70 public law teachers from across the country and internationally.

The first session will be on the theme of ‘Public Law and Remote Learning: Past. Present. Future’, commencing at 11:00 am and concluding at 12:30pm AEDT.

The second session will be centred around the theme of ‘Teaching Public Law in Times of Public Emergency’, commencing at 1:00 pm and concluding at 2:30pm AEDT.

The workshop will be concluded with the book launch of ‘The Originalist’, a novel co-written by members of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW and others. It was the result of a creative project conceived of during the initial lockdowns implemented in response to COVID-19 in March 2020. All proceeds from the sale of ‘The Originalist’ will go to the UNSW Emergency Fund. Introductory remarks will be delivered by former justice of the High Court of Australia and novelist, IDF Callinan AC.

There are separate registrations for the workshop and the book launch.

To register for the workshop, click here.

To register for the book launch, click here.

2021 Constitutional Law Online Conference
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, UNSW, Australian Association of Constitutional Law
Date: 12 February 2021
Location: Online

We invite you to register for a major conference on constitutional law to be held via zoom on Friday 12 February 2021, organised by the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, UNSW, with the support of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law.

The virtual conference will feature discussions of recent important developments in the High Court, Federal Court and State Courts and provide an overview of the key public law debates in 2020. The conference will also consider current debates on constitutional reform sparked by the High Court’s decisions in Love v Commonwealth and the Palace Papers Case, and the public law challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference will be addressed by leading practitioners, academics and judges, and feature opportunities for informal virtual exchange via zoom lunch and morning tea ‘break-out’ rooms. It will also mark the 20th anniversary of the conference, and the Centre’s institutional life, and we will mark that anniversary with a short video presentation at the opening of the conference. We regret that we cannot meet in person next February, but believe that proceeding with a virtual conference is the safest and most appropriate course given current circumstances. We also hope it will offer new opportunities for an even broader range of practitioners, judges and scholars across Australia to join the event. To that end, we are working closely with UNSW Edge to offer registration for single-sessions as well as for the entire day, and offering a substantially discounted registration price. And we are committed to ensuring that all colleagues who wish to can attend, and thus anyone who does not have funds to pay for registration due to the COVID-19 pandemic can do so free of charge.

For further information, and to register, click here.