Welcome to the September 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.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.

JSI Seminar: Expertise for the End of History – The Rise of Comparative Constitutional Law in the 1990s
Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney Law School
Date: 2 September 2021
Time: 6:00-7:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Speaker: Dr Dylan Lino, University of Queensland

Since the 1990s, the fortunes of comparative constitutional law as a field of scholarly enquiry have risen stratospherically. In accounting for the field’s rapid ascent and consolidation, scholars typically identify as the main catalyst the wave of constitution-making that occurred in the early 1990s, especially throughout the former Soviet Bloc. That analysis, while correct, leaves much unsaid about the operative forces, actors and institutions operating at ‘the end of history’ that helped to establish comparative constitutional law as a prestigious domain of academic expertise.

This paper seeks to shed light on the rise of comparative constitutional law by exploring the origins and operation of one academic institution that was both exemplary of and influential in that rise: the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe.

Drawing on the example of the Chicago Center, the paper argues that comparative constitutional law rose to prominence in substantial part because it was fostered by powerful global actors – Northern states, private foundations and international institutions – to guide and legitimate their agendas of promoting liberal democracy in the Global South and the post-Communist world. For scholars, whether in the Global North, South or East, comparative constitutional law became attractive not simply because of its intellectual interest, but due to the opportunities comparative constitutional expertise offered for exerting political influence over constitution-making and for professional advancement. Understanding the origins of the rise of comparative constitutional law helps us in understanding the field’s shape today.

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: 2 September – 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!

Cine-Legality with Gerry Simpson 
2 September, 7:00-8:00pm (AEST)

Sovereignty in the Anthropocene with Daniel Matthews
7 September, 6:00-7:00pm (AEST)

In Conversation with Raimond Gaita 
14 September, 1:00-2:00pm (AEST)

Three Little Words: Art and Law
5 October, 12:00-1:00pm (AEST)

The Past, Present, and Future of International Law and the Humanities
7 October, 5:00-6:00pm (AEST)

Violent Modernities: Cultural Lives of Law in the New India (OUP 2021) – Oishik Sircar in Conversation with Dianne Otto
12 October, 1:00-2:00pm (AEST)

Book Launch of the Routledge Handbook on International Law and the Humanities
14 October, 4:30pm (AEST)

For more information, and to register, click here.


Launch: Feminist Judgments/Critical Judgments Project Website
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales Faculty of Law and Justice
Date: 9 September 2021
Time: 5:30-6:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

The G+T Centre is extremely pleased to be launching the Feminist Judgments/Critical Judgments Project website. Bring your wonderful selves and a glass of sparkling wine, water, or whatever you fancy to toast the launch and is the most appropriate for your time of day.

The website is a “rolling” (that is, regularly updated) online repository, or clearing house, for the various feminist and critical judgment projects that have been and are being developed around the world. It is inspired by the many fantastic online resources that are already available for the individual feminist (and more broadly critical) judgments projects. It includes links to the projects themselves, whether completed or in development, commentary and extensions of the projects, and teaching resources that have been developed using the projects.

We will be joined by the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, one of Australia’s leading and inspiring feminist jurists and legal reformers, and Dr Nicole Watson, one of the editors of the recently launched Indigenous Legal Judgments Project.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Whistleblowers, War Crimes and Press Freedom: David McBride on Trial
University of Queensland School of Law
Date: 14 September 2021
Time: 6:00-7:15pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Moderator: Professor Peter Greste (UQ; Director at Alliance for Journalist’s Freedom)
Panellists:  Dan Oakes (Senior Reporter, ABC); Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh (Senior Lecturer, TC Beirne School of Law, UQ); Kieran Pender (Senior Lawyer, Human Rights Law Centre) and Fiona McLeod AO SC (Victorian Bar)

The prosecution of David McBride, a former Army lawyer who blew the whistle on alleged war crimes by Australian forces in Afghanistan, raises profound questions about whistleblower protections and press freedom in Australia.

Join this distinguished panel for a discussion of the McBride case, whistleblower protections, press freedom and increasing state surveillance capacity.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Gridlock: Reforming Australia’s Institutions to Unblock Policy Reform
Melbourne Law School
Date: 15 September 2021
Time: 6:00-7:00pm (AEST)
Location: Law G08, University of Melbourne Law Building

Melbourne Law School and Melbourne School of Government present a public lecture by Professor John Daley.

Australia is failing to adopt many policy reforms that would increase prosperity. Based on a large sample of recommended policies, John’s capstone project after 12 years at Grattan Institute has identified the key blockers to reform. His research shows how Australia’s institutions of government are in large part to blame. Systemic changes are needed to many institutions including public sector regulation, ministerial staffing, political donations, and lobbying. Long-standing conventions are failing, and many need to be replaced by legally binding rules. This lecture will outline the important agenda for lawyers: to define new institutional rules that will improve the chances of policy reform in the public interest.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Mental Health Law: Abolish or Reform?
Melbourne Social Equity Institute
Date: 16 September 2021
Time: 1:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Join us to celebrate the release of Dr Kay Wilson’s new book Mental Health Law: Abolish or Reform? published by Oxford University Press. The book will be introduced by Emeritus Professor Bernadette McSherry and Dr Wilson will discuss her research and the themes of the book.

Presented as part of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute’s Mental Health and Society Seminar Series.

Dr Kay Wilson’s new book Mental Health Law: Abolish or Reform? aims to break new ground by cutting through the confusion using the tools of human rights treaty interpretation backed by a deep jurisprudential analysis of core Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) concepts – dignity (including autonomy), equality, and participation. What does the CRPD mean and what does it require States Parties to do? Is it possible to flesh out a broader vision of disability rights?

For more information, and to register, click here.

60 Years On – The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, University of Melbourne
Date: 16 September 2021
Time: 7:00-8:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Moderator: Associate Professor Laura van Waas (Tilburg Law School)
Presenters: Benyam Dawit Mezmul (member of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child); Melanie J Khanna (UNHCR); Professor Michelle Foster (Director of the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness); Sarah Dale (Centre Director and Principal Solicitor, RACS); and Katie Robertson (Research Fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness).

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness are pleased to offer this event featuring an expert panel.

Join our panellists as they discuss various facets of the 1961 Convention, including:

  • how and why the substantive provisions of the 1961 Convention were negotiated and developed;
  • the kinds of commitments made and actions taken by States in recent years to prevent and reduce statelessness in line with the 1961 Convention;
  • the potential of the 1961 Convention to completely resolve statelessness within a generation if its Articles 1 – 4 were to be universally applied;
  • how the 1961 Convention can help one particular family to avoid statelessness.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Global Public Law Virtual Book Seminar Series 2021: Joanna Bell’s The Anatomy of Administrative Law
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law and Justice
Date: 17 September 2021
Time: 9:00am (AEST)
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.

On 17 September, we will host a webinar focussing on Joanna Bell’s The Anatomy of Administrative Law (Hart, 2020)
Commentators: Mark Aronson, Janina Boughey
Chair: Janina Boughey

For more information, and to register, click here.

Making the Right to Health a Reality
Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW
Date: 22 September 2021
Time: 1:00-2:00pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Healthcare is a human right, but how do we ensure decision-makers do as much as they can to make it a reality for everyone? And how do we ensure that people can take action when that right has been violated? Would having a national Charter of Human Right make a difference?

This forum, co-hosted by the Human Rights Law Centre and the Australian Human Rights Institute, will hear from speakers who are leading the conversation on health and human rights.


  • Donnella Mills, Chair, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations
  • Rosemary Kayess, Senior Lecturer and Chair of UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre


  • ProfessorJustine Nolan, Director, Australian Human Rights Institute

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.

JSI Seminar: Law’s People
Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney Law School
Date: 23 September 2021
Time: 6:00-7:30pm (AEST)
Location: Online

Speaker: Dr Susan Bartie, University of Tasmania

Alice Erh-Soon Tay was appointed as Challis Professor of Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney in 1975. She became the first Asian-Australian and second woman to become a law professor at an Australian university. Her appointment brought with it a belief among some of her new colleagues that she would close the jurisprudential arm of the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law and end decades of division within the Faculty.

Contrary to expectations, she neither closed the Department nor mended fences. The small Department continued to operate, in the face of opposition and hostility, for another 23 years. Unlike her predecessor, Professor Julius Stone, Tay is not a well-known figure among the current generation of Australian legal academics.

Drawing on this case study, as well as others described in Free Hands and Minds (Hart, 2019) and American Legal Education Abroad – Critical Histories (NYU Press, 2021 – edited with David Sandomierski), this paper will explore how and why we honour and remember certain legal figures. It will identify a range of factors, including US influence, which have distorted current understandings of academics and the discipline of law. And it will argue that in some circumstances the running of a department or faculty can be characterised as an important contribution to both the discipline of law and legal theory; a contribution which ought to be better recognised and understood.

Dr Susan Bartie is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania. She researches the history of legal ideas, law schools and lawyers in Australian society. She is currently working on a 50-year socio-legal history of Australian environmental lawyering which, from 2022 to 2024, will be supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

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.

The 2021 Solomon Lecture: ‘Solving Public Problems with Data’
Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland
Date: From 28 September 2021
Location: Online

International Access to Information Day (IAI Day) is recognised each year in Australia and around the world on 28 September. The day raises awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information, and the public sector’s responsibility to release information unless it would not be in the public interest to do so. The theme for 2021 is ‘Open by design: government transparency everyone can see’ and promotes the value of proactively releasing information in times of crisis and recovery.

To mark the occasion the Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland will present the 2021 Solomon Lecture ‘Solving Public Problems with Data’. This virtual lecture, delivered by Professor Beth Simone Noveck, will discuss how a focus on public problem solving and improving people’s lives changes how we think about data. She will discuss specific policy prescriptions for creating a right to know that fosters better government, stronger citizenship and more agile solutions to contemporary challenges.

Beth Simone Noveck is the author of Solving Public Problems: A Practical Guide to Fix Our Government and Change Our World. She is a professor at Northeastern University, where she directs the Burnes Center for Social Change and its partner project The Governance Lab. She is also the Chief Innovation of the State of New Jersey.

Find more information and watch the lecture online from 28 September.

Book Forum/Launch – Judicial Federalism in Australia: History, Theory, Doctrine and Practice
Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law and Justice
Date: 8 October 2021
Time: 12:00-1:30pm (AEDT)
Location: Online

The Judiciary Project at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law is delighted to invite you to a special event: a book forum to celebrate the launch of Judicial Federalism in Australia: History, Theory, Doctrine and Practice (Federation Press, 2021).

This book is the culmination of more than five years of work of the authors, Gabrielle Appleby, Anna Olijnyk, James Stellios and John Williams. It provides a holistic analysis of the federal dimension of Chapter III of the Constitution, including its historical foundations in the colonial justice system, through to the drafting of the federation and the subsequent development of State Chapter III jurisprudence by the High Court through the Kable principle. It provides, for the first time, an empirical study of the effect of this jurisprudence on the development and design of policies by the States.

Join the authors and a panel of esteemed commentators to discuss the book and celebrate its publication.

  • Professor Erin Delaney, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • The Hon. William Gummow AC, Distinguished Professor or Law, ANU, former Justice of the High Court of Australia
  • Brendan Lim, barrister, Centre Fellow at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law
  • Professor Sarah Murray, UWA Law School

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: Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach Hotel, Corner of Princess Street and The Grand Parade, Brighton-Le-Sands NSW 2216

Subject to Government restrictions on travel and public events, the conference is scheduled for the weekend of 15-17 October 2021.

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, University of New South Wales Faculty of Law and Justice
Date: 21-22 October 2021
Location: Online

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Report of the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee, chaired by Sir John Kerr. The NSW Chapter of the AIAL, together with the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW Law & Justice, 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.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Health and Human Rights in the Climate Crisis: Charting Challenges and Solutions
Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW; Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, University of Southern California; The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney
Date: 21-29 October 2021
Location: Online

During the COVID-19 pandemic the world has shown its capacity to mobilise and act in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis. How can we build on this momentum to address the challenges arising from the threat of climate change and its impact on our health?

In the lead up to COP26, the conference will showcase the research, policies and practice of experts in the fields of public health, climate science, law and human rights to support global developments to address climate change.

Drawing on our shared experiences of increasing climate threats, including fire, floods and temperature rises, the conference will serve as a call to global governments to take urgent steps that recognise the link between the increasing burden on under-resourced public health systems, the exploitation of the natural world and altered climatic conditions.

The conferencewill take the form of a series of keynote addresses, panel discussions and workshops over the period of 21-29 October 2021 and will be of interest to frontline health workers, human rights advocates, medical professionals, academics, researchers, policy advisors, NGOs and media professionals.

For more information, and to register, click here.

Reforming Global Governance for Improved Pandemic Prevention and Response
Melbourne Law School
Date: 26 October 2021
Time: 6:00-7:00pm (AEDT)
Location: Online

Lecture by Gian Luca Burci, Adjunct Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed or confirmed many serious gaps and flaws in the legal and institutional frameworks (both global and regional) that should prevent, contain and respond to the international spread of diseases, and that should prevent outbreaks from becoming pandemics. COVID-19 has rudely tested many fields of international law and policy beyond health, from human rights and trade to transport and financial stability. The disruption brought about by almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to discussions and negotiations – at times controversial and divisive – about the most urgent reforms to ensure that this will be the last pandemic.

Since the end of 2020, discussions and negotiations have pointed to a few main themes:

  1. The weakness of the International Health Regulations as the sole global legal instrument for pandemic prevention and containment;
  2. The need to provide the international community with stronger legal tools through a new “pandemic treaty”;
  3. Ambivalence around the role and effectiveness of WHO and the need for new institutional arrangements; and
  4. The challenge of rethinking the way in which life-saving medical countermeasures are developed, manufactured and allocated.

Whatever normative and institutional solutions will eventually be agreed upon, they will have to treat pandemics as a continuum requiring interventions at different stages as well as systemic risks not dissimilar to climate change and nuclear safety. The lecture will provide an opportunity to discuss some of the blind spots and crucial points along the “pandemic continuum” that should be addressed as a matter of priority, including prevention of zoonotic spillover and a health-sensitive mechanism to promptly share pathogen samples and genetic sequences as well as the benefits deriving from their utilization.

For more information, click here.

14th Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory
Melbourne Law School
Date: 22-23 November 2021
Location: Online

The Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory is an annual interdisciplinary workshop hosted by graduate researchers. The Forum brings together research students and early career researchers from a range of academic disciplines to engage with social, political, theoretical, and methodological issues raised by law and legal theory.

The 14th Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory will take place on 22-23 November 2021 as a fully virtual event. The forum brings together graduate researchers and early career scholars from a range of disciplines and backgrounds to think methodically, theoretically and critically about law and theory. This year’s theme is Utopia and the legal imagination.

The world is in the early stages of a global pandemic; the ramifications of which are both immediate, and still partly unknown. In the midst of very real suffering, is there a place for some reflection on worlds past, present and future? Arundhati Roy suggested this pandemic could be a ‘portal’ to a different world, suggesting we are at a critical juncture for generating utopian thinking; while Rebecca Solnit observed that disasters ‘begin suddenly and never really end.’ What can this period tell us about hope, creating new futures, and our histories?

For more information, click here.

ANU Law 60th Anniversary Conference: Public Law and Inequality
Australian National University College of Law
Date: 6-8 December 2021
Location: ANU College of Law, Australian National University, Canberra

As part of The Australian National University’s 75th anniversary and to belatedly celebrate 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 ANU College of Law in Canberra on 6-8 December 2021.

The conference will be a face-to-face event for Australian-based speakers and attendees, with international speakers and attendees able to participate through a webinar format, which will include a live audience in Canberra. We understand that much of Australia is currently subject to travel restrictions, but are hopeful that domestic borders will reopen in advance of our conference in December. If domestic travel is not possible, the entire conference will be available as an online event for affected participants within Australia.

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.