Welcome to the July edition of the AUSPUBLAW Australian Public Law Events Roundup. Before we get to the roundup, we would like to draw your attention to the following opportunity for law students:

Sir Anthony Mason Constitutional Law Essay Competition
Law Society of NSW Young Lawyers Public Law and Government Committee
Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2021

The Sir Anthony Mason Essay Competition is an annual event for undergraduate and Juris Doctor students.

Competition information:

  • The competition winner will have the opportunity for their writing to be published in AUSPUBLAW alongside distinguished academics and will receive a $500 cash prize.
  • Students can take part in the competition by submitting a 2,000-2,500-word essay by Wednesday 30 September.
  • Please note that this total word count does not include non-discursive footnotes or bibliographies.
  • Shortlisted individuals will be invited to attend the awards ceremony hosted by NSW Young Lawyers in late 2021.
  • Please email young.lawyers@lawsociety.com.au if you have any questions.
  • The link for submissions is here.

Essay questions:

Question 1
In his dissenting judgment in the Work Choices Case (2006) 229 CLR 1, Callinan J said (at 322): “[t]here are statements in the joint judgment, …disparaging not only of the expression ‘federal balance’, but also of the very concept of it. In my respectful opinion they fail to pay due regard to our predecessors on this Court who never doubted the importance of that concept.”
Does the central role of the States in responding to the Covid crisis make Callinan J’s dissenting view any more persuasive in 2021?

Question 2
In 2020, Clive Palmer unsuccessfully challenged Western Australia’s border closure on the basis that it offended absolute freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse under s 92, with reasons published in February 2021: Palmer v Western Australia [2021] HCA 5. The High Court also rejected the existence of an implied freedom of movement under s 92 in Gerner v Victoria [2020] HCA 48.  
Could the Commonwealth validly override or otherwise intervene in State border closures in the exercise of its legislative powers?

Question 3
In Palmer v The State of Western Australia [2021] HCA 5, the High Court again diverged on accepting the doctrine of “structured proportionality” in resolving questions of Australian constitutional law. To what extent should Australian jurisprudence take account of the “march of structured proportionality” (at [141] (per Gageler J)) in courtrooms across the world?

Question 4
Discuss any significant development in Australian constitutional law as a result of action taken by a state(s) during the pandemic.

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.

Developing a Research and Policy Agenda for Addressing Displacement and Migration in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change in Africa
Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales
Date: 1 July 2021
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Between April and June 2021, more than 170 researchers, policy experts and practitioners working across Africa and beyond have come together to discuss law and policy responses to displacement and migration in the context of disasters and climate change.

On 1 July 2021, you are invited to join the Closing Plenary Session of the workshop series to hear about the outcomes of these discussions and the key priorities for future research to address displacement and migration in the context of disasters and climate change in Africa. The Closing Plenary Session will feature keynote presentations, reports from each Thematic Working Group, and information about plans for future research and collaboration.

For more information, and to register, click here.

2021 ALAA Conference
University of Sydney Law School; University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Law; Australasian Law Academics Association
Date: 4-6 July 2021
Location: Online

Conference theme: Boldly Academic: Defining, Supporting and Celebrating Legal Scholarship

The theme of the Conference has been chosen to enable exploration and celebration of legal scholarship and the role of the academic.

Legal academics are not failed practitioners or wannabe sociologists. Law schools are not adjuncts to the profession. Legal teachers and researchers have made and continue to make significant contributions to the law, the legal profession, the community and society at large. The 2021 ALAA conference will celebrate these contributions. We will explore the role of legal scholars and the legal academy in the 21st century; identify and commemorate the heroes of legal scholarship; examine ways to better define, measure and support legal research; celebrate innovation within Australasian law teaching and scholarship; and identify strategies for supporting academic wellness, professional development and career success”.

The conference will be held virtually. For more information, and to register, click here.

Thought Leadership: In Conversation with Megan Davis
Law Society of New South Wales
Date: 6 July 2021
Time: 12:30 – 1:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Professor Megan Davis, a proud Cobble Cobble woman, has spent her career working on constitutional reform and Indigenous issues. She is the first Indigenous Australian woman to be elected to a United Nations body when she was appointed to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and was a member of the Referendum Council that designed a series of dialogues culminating in the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017.

In honour of NAIDOC Week 2021, the Law Society’s CEO, Sonja Stewart, will sit down with Professor Davis to discuss her incredible history in the law and her fight for Indigenous People’s recognition within the democratic society of Australia. This year’s theme is Heal Country. To Heal Country means to embrace First Nation’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage ensuring the culture and values of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are respected equally to all Australians’ cultures and values. The right to protect Country and culture is fundamental.

We hope you can join us for this crucial conversation.

For more information, and to register, click here.

ICON·S Mundo Conference: The Future of Public Law
International Society of Public Law
Date: 6-9 July 2021
Location: Online

ICON·S Mundo will feature a multitude of diverse events over several days, including plenary events on “Technology and the Future of Public Law”, “Democracy and the Future of Public Law” and “The Future of Human Rights and the Rule of Law”. ICON·S Mundo will also include social events such as a virtual welcome session for new members, advice for early career scholars, interest group meetings, and a diversity and women’s receptions, among other things.

There will be a number of panels featuring Australian public lawyers, including panels considering Australian public law topics.

Attending Mundo will be free of charge for those not presenting their work or participating in a working group and all are welcome to attend. However, those who are able to consider supporting the Society are encouraged to become active members.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Anti-Vilification & Hate Speech Law in Australia and New Zealand
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University; University of Auckland Centre for Human Rights Law
Date: 7 July 2021
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Although anti-vilification laws exist in most democracies, they remain controversial. Do these laws illegitimately restrict free speech? What purposes do they serve, and what harms do they target? Do they appropriately balance competing interests?

In Australia, vilification laws in Victoria, New South Wales and the Commonwealth have been reviewed by parliamentary committees in the last four years. In New Zealand, changes to vilification laws are proposed in response to recent hate crimes.

This panel discussion brings together vilification law experts from Australia and New Zealand to discuss these complex and important issues.

A collaboration between the Castan Centre and the University of Auckland Centre for Human Rights Law, this panel will provide an update on recent developments in these two jurisdictions, and provide a framework for understanding the nature and purpose of anti-vilification laws.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Could Australia Again Play a Part in Shaping the International Order?
Australian Institute of International Affairs
Date: 14 July 2021
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online or in-person at the Australian Institute of International Affairs National Offices at Stephen House

In the 1940s, Australia played a critical role in the development of the United Nations – particularly in advocating the interests of smaller states. Could Australia again play a role in shaping the international order – the rules and arrangements that guide the way nations interact with one another?

Today, with the shift in power from the North Atlantic to Asia and the Pacific, the post-War American-led order is under serious threat. Foreign Minister Payne has acknowledged that the so-called ‘rules-based order’ is likely to be “evolving to take account of the interests of rising powers.” Thus Australia, long a supporter of liberal values, has acknowledged the demand for change.

Productive discussions have been held on the ‘rules-based order’, including in the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the Lowy Institute. Among the questions raised is just how far the current order is essentially American; another question concerns how far a rules system – even if it enjoys consensus support – can mediate antagonisms that arise between major powers, in particular the United States and China. 

If Australia aspires to help shape our “strategic environment”, as our Prime Minister has suggested, it would be critical to take account of these regional perspectives. Based on recent research, including on the historical development of the current international order (going back well before the Second World War), this lecture will outline the challenge which Australia faces. It will also argue that the revising of the rules of inter-state behaviour is a task for which Australia has qualifications. Lastly, it will suggest that this task offers us the opportunity to make a creative contribution of global significance.

For more information, and to register, click here.

The Politics of International Law Seminar Series
Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University College of Law
Date: 16 July – 20 August 2021
Location: Online

The Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL), ANU College of Law is pleased to announce a new seminar series, entitled ‘The Politics of International Law’ led by Dr Ntina Tzouvala.

The international legal order is currently facing unprecedented challenges. At the same time, international law, understood both as academic discipline and professional practice, is undergoing profound transformations that throw into question certainties that have been taken for granted at least since the end of the Cold War.

This series will explore these fundamental questions, to historicise and theorise their origins, and imagine possible answers to our current problems. The seminars are designed to bring internationally-leading voices in the discipline in conversation with scholars from The Australian National University.

Disposable Lives: COVID-19, Vaccines and the Uprising
16 July 2021
11:00am – 12:00pm (AEST)

The Social Power and Political Economy of the Right to Food
30 July 2021
12:00 – 1:00pm (AEST)

International Law and the Politics of History
20 August 2021
12:00 – 1:00pm (AEST)

For more information, and to register, click here.

Judicial Impartiality Q&A: Exploring Viewpoints
Australian Law Reform Commission; Monash University Faculty of Law
Date: 19 July 2021
Time: 1:00 – 2:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Join us as we explore different views from all sides of the courtroom on proposals and questions raised in the Judicial Impartiality Consultation Paper. In this webinar, we will discuss views from the bench, the profession, academia, and the community on proposals made and questions raised by the ALRC’s Judicial Impartiality Consultation Paper.

This webinar will explore:

  • Whether there is a need to reform the law and procedure on judicial bias and, if so, the form those reforms should take,
  • The ethical rules around judges and lawyers communicating while a trial is ongoing,
  • Understanding litigant and community perceptions of judicial impartiality, and
  • The institutional infrastructure required to best support judicial impartiality and public confidence in it.


  • The Honourable Justice John Middleton, Part-time Commissioner at the ALRC and Judge of the Federal Court of Australia


  • The Honourable Chief Justice William Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • Minal Vohra SC, Barrister at Own Dixon Chambers East
  • Professor Matthew Groves, Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University
  • George Selvanera, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

For more information, and to register, click here.

2021 AIAL Conference: Administrative Law on the Edge
Australian Institute of Administrative Law
Date: 22-23 July 2021
Location: Online

The aim of the Conference is to provide those involved or interested in Australian administrative law with the opportunity to discuss contemporary issues, share practical experiences and consider future developments.

The overarching theme for the 2020 AIAL National Administrative Law Conference will be Administrative Law on the Edge.

The Conference will explore the many-faceted ‘edges’ of administrative law in the Commonwealth, States and Territories, including:

  • Intersecting areas of law and other areas of knowledge, for example, the law of interpretation and constitutional law
  • The nature of any ‘boundary lines’ of administrative law
  • The metes and bounds of jurisdictional error
  • The capacity of civil and administrative tribunals to deliver administrative justice, having regard to the original intent of providing fast, low cost efficient reviews
  • The scope to challenge the exercise of non-statutory executive power
  • Whether the performance of government functions that are ‘outsourced’ is outside administrative law bounds
  • The scope to challenge automated ‘decision-making’.

The Conference will incorporate the 2021 AIAL National Administrative Law Lecture to be delivered by Professor Matthew Groves, Alfred Deakin Professor, Deakin University Law School. The Lecture will commence at 4:45 pm 22 July. This event is open to the public at no cost but registration for non-conference attendees will be required.

For more information, and to register, click here. Plans are being made to reconstitute the conference program in an online format, with some of the presentations still to occur on 22 and 23 July 2021 and others on dates to be determined.

2021 CCCS Constitutional Law Conference
Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at the University of Melbourne
Date: 23 July 2021
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

The Conference will commence with a keynote address by the Hon. Justice Michelle Gordon AC, who will consider the themes and legacy of Australian Communist Party v Commonwealth (1951).

Confirmed speakers include the Hon. Justice Andrew Bell (President, NSW Court of Appeal), Hon. Justice Melinda Richards (Supreme Court of Victoria), Dr Ruth Higgins SC (Banco Chambers), Timothy Goodwin (List A Barristers), Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO (Melbourne), Professor Rosalind Dixon (UNSW), Professor Kristen Rundle (Melbourne), and Professor Jason Varuhas (Melbourne).

These speakers will address two key themes. The first theme is the rule of law. Speakers will consider its place in the High Court’s constitutional case law, Indigenous perspectives on the rule of law following Love v Commonwealth, and comparative lessons. The second theme is government, courts and the law after COVID-19. Speakers will consider legal issues arising from hotel quarantine, legal regulation of the use of soft law, emergency powers, and the use of technology in court proceedings.

A final panel will mark the career of the Hon. Justice Geoffrey Nettle AC with a panel featuring the Hon. Justice Kenneth Hayne AC (formerly High Court of Australia), Julian Murphy (Melbourne), Julia Wang (Dever’s List) and Dr Scott Stephenson (Melbourne).

For more information, and to register, click here.

Human Rights Law Conference
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University
Date: 23 July 2021
Time: 9:00am – 3:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

The importance of human rights in contemporary Australian society is becoming increasingly apparent and recognised. Recent Royal Commissions into issues such as mental health and older persons in residential care as well as parliamentary inquiries into issues such as homelessness have made recommendations underpinned by human rights.

Building on that momentum, this conference engages in detail with human rights in three focussed sessions on women and discrimination, ending homelessness and charters of human rights. Distinguished speakers, all experts in their fields, examine these areas of concern with respected moderators and excellent rapporteurs.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Making the Law Work for Women
University Technology Sydney International Law Research Cluster; Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion
Date: 29 July 2021
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Laws formed with a gendered lens are a key part of the fight against domestic violence, guaranteeing reproductive rights, and promoting shared responsibilities for care at home.

Yet, when it comes to the environment, taxation and corruption, we too often fail to understand what a gender perspective looks like.

How can Australia do more to advance equality – at home and abroad – with our laws? What role can the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women play in making legislation more responsive to women’s rights?

Join us in a discussion on how the law can be a more effective tool for gender equality with our expert panel.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Secret Hearings and the Constitution: SDCV v D-G of Security [2021] FCAFC 5
Australian Association of Constitutional Law
Date: 3 August 2021
Time: 5:30-6:30pm (AEST)
Location: Court 1, Level 21, Federal Court of Australia, Queens Square, Sydney (note: depending on NSW health advice in place at the time of the event, the event may proceed virtually via Microsoft Teams kindly facilitated by the Federal Court of Australia)

The AACL is delighted to welcome Mr David Hume and Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh to present on two recent cases that raise important questions concerning the interface between the Constitution and national security imperatives. In SDCV v Director-General of Security [2021] FCAFC 51, a Full Court of the Federal Court considered a constitutional challenge to a provision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth) that prevented the Court, relevantly in a review of an adverse security assessment issued by ASIO, from disclosing evidence to the appellant. In proceedings recently heard in the ACT Court of Appeal, Bernard Collaery challenged orders made in his criminal trial by the trial judge under the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth).


  • The Hon Alan Robertson SC, former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, President of the Australian Academy of Law


  • Mr David Hume, NSW Bar
  • Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland

A registration link will be added later in the month.

2021 Lucinda Lecture: Aliens, Defence, Juries, and Marriage
Monash University Faculty of Law
Date: 19 August 2021
Time: 6:00 – 7:10pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Monash Law is honoured to present the 2021 Lucinda Lecture, to be delivered by The Honourable Justice James Edelman, High Court of Australia.

In constitutional interpretation there is an important divide which has been described as a difference between interpretation and construction, or between concept and conception, or between meaning and application, or between essential meaning and non-essential meaning. However it is described, this difference has been recognised in many decisions of the High Court of Australia. This lecture will explore the difference by reference to High Court decisions in relation to four constitutional concepts: Aliens, Defence, Juries, and Marriage.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Global Public Law Virtual Book Seminar Series 2021
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law and Justice
Date: 20 August – 22 October 2021
Location: Online

The aim of this series is to invite leading scholars in public law around the globe to share ideas from a recent book with an Australian audience. The Series will be hosted by the G+T Centre and feature Australian-based commentators from both within and outside the Centre to discuss the book with the authors.  It will also involve a collaboration with AUSPUBLAW, to develop a special blog series featuring commentary on the book for an Australian audience.  

1pm – Friday 20 August
Kent Roach, Remedies for Human Rights Violations: A Two-Track Approach to Supra-national and National Law (CUP, 2021)
Commentators: TBC
Chair: Janina Boughey

5pm – Friday 17 September
Joanna Bell, The Anatomy of Administrative Law (Hart, 2020)
Commentators: Mark Aronson, Janina Boughey
Chair:  Lisa Burton Crawford

5pm – Friday 22 October
Aileen Kavanagh, The Collaborative Constitution (CUP, forthcoming)
Commentators: Rosalind Dixon, Joshua Aird
Chair: Rosalind Dixon

For more information, and to register, click here.

ANU Law and Philosophy Forum: Legality as Public Reason
Australian National University College of Law
Date: 23 September 2021
Time: 5:00 – 6:00pm
Location: Online

The ANU Law and Philosophy Forum is delighted to announce its eighth meeting in 2021: a work-in-progress seminar with Dr Michael Foran, on ‘Legality as public reason’. All are welcome to attend.

Dr Michael Foran is a Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Strathclyde, UK. He researches in jurisprudence and constitutional law, with a particular focus on equality and discrimination. Dr Foran has published in the Cambridge Law Journal, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, and Public Law, and his PhD (Trinity Hall, Cambridge) focused on equality before the law, including anti-discrimination law and theory. Dr Foran will talk to the ANU Law and Philosophy Forum about the principle of legality, and its capacity to constitute what we might call ‘public reason’.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Religious Freedom, Religious Discrimination and the Role of the Law
University of Queensland School of Law
Date: 7 October 2021
Time: 5:00 – 6:45pm (AEST)
Location: The Banco Court, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, 415 George Street, Brisbane

Religious freedom and freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion are well-established rights in international law and many jurisdictions have a substantial case-law that examine both of these rights, including the tensions between them. While some limited forms of these rights are protected in the constitution, to date there has been a relatively limited case law in Australia. With the development of statutory bills of rights and increased social tensions between secular and religious Australians, however, the law is increasingly being asked to step into conflicts that involve religion. What can we learn from the Australian case law to date and from other similar jurisdictions that can help Australian courts and legal policy makers with the complex issues that arise in this realm?

For more information, and to register, click here.

32nd Annual Conference of the Samuel Griffith Society
Samuel Griffith Society
Date: 15-17 October 2021
Location: Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel, 61-101 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000

The Samuel Griffith Society was founded in 1992. The Society aims to undertake and support research into our constitutional arrangements, and to encourage and promote widespread debate about the benefits of federalism, and to defend the great virtues of the present Constitution.

The Samuel Griffith Society holds a major conference each year and smaller events on an occasional basis. The Society is widely renowned for its prestige and the eminence of its speakers. Persons of all ages and from all disciplines are encouraged to attend our events.

The following speakers for the 2021 conference have been announced so far:

  • The Honourable Stephen Gageler, AC
  • Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, AM
  • The Honourable James Allsop, AO
  • Professor Anne Twomey

For more information, and to register, click here.

Kerr’s Vision Splendid For Administrative Law: Still Fit For Purpose?
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW Law & Justice, and AIAL NSW Chapter
Date: 21 and 22 October 2021
Location: Banco Court, NSW Supreme Court and live stream (key note) and online (symposium)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Report of the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee, chaired by Sir John Kerr. The the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law & Justice, together with the NSW Chapter of the AIAL are hosting a symposium on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 October 2021, to mark this important anniversary and to provide a forum to discuss the changes in, and future of, administrative law in Australia. Please mark these dates in your diaries. More information will be circulated closer to the date.

Keynote address by the Hon Justice John Griffiths
Date: Thursday 21 October 2021
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: Banco Court, NSW Supreme Court and live stream

Online symposium
Date: Friday 22 October 2021
Time: 9am – 3pm
Venue: Online via Zoom

ANU Law 60th Anniversary Conference: Public Law and Inequality
Australian National University College of Law
Date: 7-8 December 2021
Location: Australian National University, Acton 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 7-8 December 2021.

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 more information, and to register, click here.