Welcome to the August 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 lawyers@lawsociety.com.auif 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. 

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: Online

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).

Chair: 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

For more information, and to register, click here

Festival of Conversations: Performances and Ideas
Institute for International Law and the Humanities, University of Melbourne
Date: 3 August – 12 October 2021
Location: Online

The Institute for International Law and the Humanities was established in 2005 by Anne Orford. This year we (belatedly) celebrate 15 years of IILAH via a series of online conversations, in person performances and exchanges of ideas, capped off by the launch of the Routledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities. Join us for the celebration!

Although we mark an anniversary, the festival is not a retrospective. Instead it looks forward, expressing the vibrancy of some of the current research being conducted under IILAH’s auspices. Through their creative conversations, performances and ideas, the researchers gathered in the festival stand as a synecdoche for the many fertile collaborations, projects and friends IILAH has produced over the last 15 years.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Administrative Law on the Edge – Exploring the Edge of Judicial Review
Australian Institute of Administrative Law
Date: 5 August 2021
Time: 5:30-6:15pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Julian R Murphy presents on the topic ‘Mercy and Judicial Review – the Reviewability of the Prerogative of Mercy’.

Julian R Murphy is a PhD candidate at Melbourne Law School, where his research focuses on the intersection of constitutional law and statutory interpretation. Julian is also a barrister at the Victorian Bar practicing in all areas of public law, particularly administrative, constitutional and criminal law. 

For more information, and to register, click here.

The Ghost of Teoh: International Law Obligations in Domestic Decision Making
Australian Institute of Administrative Law
Date: 10 August 2021
Time: 5:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Teoh v Minister for Immigration was one of the most controversial High Court decisions of the 1990s. It created a mechanism whereby the executive, without reference to parliament, could in effect modify considerations relevant to a statutory discretion by entry into an international treaty. The legal technique used by the High Court to achieve this result could be described as novel – even adventurous – and in the years which followed was subject to trenchant criticism.

In 2003 in its decision Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Lam, it looked like the High Court was walking away from the ideas behind the Teoh decision.  But it stopped short of overruling it. Consequently the ideas in Teoh, which have seemed questionable for almost two decades, have had an enduring impact on administrative decision making in Australia. In this presentation, Damien O’Donovan looks at what is left of the principles that underpin Teoh, and considers whether it’s time to let them go.

Presenter: Damien O’Donovan
Chair: Gary Humphries

For more information, and to register, click here.

The Nature of Conflict: Is International Law Working?
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law; Centre for Gender, Peace and Security at Monash University
Date: 12 August 2021
Time: 5:00-7:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Centre for Gender, Peace and Security at Monash University are delighted to co-host a panel discussion on ‘The nature of conflict: Is International Law Working?’. This is the second panel discussion in this two-part series, the first of which considered ‘Women and International Peace and Security in Afghanistan’.

In recent times, there have been an increasing number of targeted attacks on civilians in Afghanistan, many of which target. The conflict in Afghanistan is complex and longstanding, involving many international, as well as non-international actors. As a starting point, this event will discuss the nature of the conflict. The panellists will also consider the extent to which international law protects women and civilians more broadly.

For more information, and to register, click here.

2021 Mason Conversation with Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law and Justice 
Date: 16 August 2021 
Time: 5:30-7:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online 

The Mason Conversation 2021 features Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC in conversation with Professor Rosalind Dixon, Director, G+T Centre of Public Law, UNSW Sydney.

The Mason Conversation is a series named in honour of Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE GBM marking his outstanding generosity and contribution over decades to the University of New South Wales. As well as a distinguished career in the law, including as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia (1987-95), Sir Anthony was the fifth Chancellor of the University of New South Wales between 1994 and 1999 and the inaugural Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law.

This event is hosted by the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law together with the Faculty of Law & Justice. This event is particularly significant in 2021 as we celebrate our Faculty’s 50th Anniversary year.

For more information, and to register, click here.

2021 Derek Fielding Memorial Lecture
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties
Date: 18 August 2021
Time: 6:00-8:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online or In-person at the Law Society House, Level 2 / 179 Ann Street, Brisbane City, Queensland 4000

QCCL is pleased to present the 2021 Derek Fielding Memorial Lecture. This year’s lecture will be presented by Queensland Law Society President Elizabeth Shearer, and will focus upon issues of Access to Justice.

Elizabeth Shearer is the Chair of the Access to Justice Pro Bono Committee. Elizabeth is a director of Shearer Doyle Law, incorporating Doyle Family Law, a specialist family law practice, and Affording Justice, focused on meeting the needs of “the missing middle” who are not accessing solicitors when they need help for everyday legal problems. Elizabeth is also a Director of the Law Council of Australia and a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Access to Justice Committee.

Note: In order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the venue capacity is limited to 120pax. Bookings are therefore essential if you wish to attend in person. For those who cannot attend in person, we ask that you reserve an online ticket and a link to the livestream will be provided to you.

For more information, and to register, click here.

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

The Politics of International Law Seminar Series
Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University College of Law 
Date: 20 August 2021 
Time: 12:00-1:00pm (AEST)
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. 

The seminar topic for 20 August 2021 is ‘International Law and the Politics of History’. 

Chair: Desmond Manderson, ANU College of Law
Guest speaker: Anne Orford, Melbourne Law School

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 – 17 September 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 (AEST) – Friday 20 August 

Kent Roach, Remedies for Human Rights Violations: A Two-Track Approach to Supra-national and National Law (CUP, 2021) and Aziz Z. Huq, The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies (Oxford UP, 2021)
Chair and commentator: Rosalind Dixon

9am (AEST) – Friday 17 September 

Joanna Bell, The Anatomy of Administrative Law (Hart, 2020) 
Commentators: Mark Aronson, Janina Boughey 
Chair:  Janina Boughey

For more information, and to register, click here

Citizenship Constellations in Syria
Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, University of Melbourne
Date: 26 August 2021
Time: 1:00-1:45pm (AEST)
Location: Online

During the civil war the gap left by the Syrian state in providing legal identity documentation has been filled by a range of other actors in different territorial areas. However, as yet, this phenomenon of ‘citizenship constellations’ created by de jure and de facto authorities has not received dedicated attention. This talk begins to rectify this by adding to scholarship on citizenship and rebel governance to question how non-state actors in Syria are going about establishing legal identity; what non-state issued documents this results in; and, the interplay between Syrian state and non-state based documentation systems.

This issue is of practical importance because in times of armed conflict, life does not pause – children continue to be born, people die, marry and divorce – and these life-events need to be documented. While documentation issued by de facto sovereigns may help people living amidst civil war to secure entitlements such as access to humanitarian aid, local justice mechanisms, healthcare, education and freedom of movement not having births (or deaths) registered can have major negative consequences, including the risk of statelessness. Additionally, when the fortunes of the insurgency change, as it did in Syria, such documentation can threaten people’s welfare because the de jure authority i.e. the Syrian regime, takes these documents as evidence of being on the ‘wrong’ side. For academics, policy-makers and practitioners the topic raises profound questions about the way we understand citizenship, insurgencies, sovereign states and legality.

Lawyer and researcher, Marika Sosnowski, presents as part of the Migration, Refugees & Statelessness Seminar Series.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Book Launch: Indigenous Legal Judgments: Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision Making
Indigenous Law and Justice Hub, University of Melbourne
Date: 14 September 2021
Time: 5:30pm (AEST)
Location: Ground floor foyer, Melbourne Law School

In this groundbreaking work, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars have collaborated to rewrite 16 key legal decisions. Spanning from 1889 to 2017, the judgments reflect the trajectory of Indigenous people’s engagements with Australian law. Exciting new voices have reclaimed Australian law to deliver justice to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Contributors have shown how judicial officers can use their power to challenge systemic racism and tell the stories of Indigenous people who have been dehumanised by the Australian legal system. We look forward to sharing come of those stories at the launch of this important book.

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 (AEST)
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: 5:15-6:45pm (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 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