ALRC InBrief | August 2015

Appointment of part-time Commissioner,  Emeritus Professor Suri Ratnapala

On 21 July, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC appointed Emeritus Professor Anura Surindra (Suri) Ratnapala as a part-time Commissioner until the conclusion of the Freedoms Inquiry. Professor Ratnapala is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and a current Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. He held the position of Professor of Public Law at UQ until his retirement at the end of 2014.

See media release >>

Michael Kirby Lecture 2015

On 9 July ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM gave the 9th annual  Michael Kirby lecture at Southern Cross University in Queensland. Entitled ‘Re-imagining Law Reform—Michael Kirby’s Vision, Human Rights and the Australian Law Reform Commission in the 21st Century’, a video and transcript of the speech is available on the ALRC website.

ALRC 40th Anniversary

As signalled earlier in the year, the ALRC will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with an event at the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday 23 October 2015. ALRC President Rosalind Croucher AM will be joined  by the Hon Chief Justice Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, and the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia to help celebrate the ALRC’s history and to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of the many ALRC alumni who have contributed to the organisation since its inception.

Winner of the ALRC’s student essay competition

Congratulations to Justin Pen from the University of Sydney, who provided the winning response.

Australian law students were asked to answer the following question in 1000 words or less:

Why is an independent ALRC good for Australia?

Justin won an internship with the ALRC and his entry has been published on the ALRC website. Justin elected to begin the Internship this semester and is currently assisting the Freedoms inquiry team.

The ALRC received many quality entries for this competition. The judging panel would especially like to note runners-up, Arisha Arif from the Australian National University and Rosalind Acland from the University of New South Wales. Justin’s entry will be acknowledged at the ALRC’s 40 year celebration.

Inquiry update

Native Title

The Native Title Report, Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (ALRC Report 126) was tabled on 4 June 2015. It marks the first major review of ‘connection’ in native title claims since the introduction of the Native Title Act, and also examines authorisation and joinder of parties. The report makes 30 recommendations for reform.

The launch

The ALRC launched this important report with in Sydney on 29 June 2015, attended, Dr Valerie Cooms  Quandamooka (Chair of the Prescribed Body Corporate) and former CEO of QSNTS, Prof Lee Godden, Commissioner for the Inquiry, and  Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, on behalf of the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, who formally launched the Report.

Transcripts of speeches made on the day by Professor Rosalind Croucher, ALRC President, and Professor Lee Godden, Commissioner leading the Native Title Inquiry are available on the ALRC website.


The ALRC released the second consultation document for this inquiry, an Interim Report, on 3 August and is currently calling for submissions. The Interim Report discusses the source and rationale of the 19 common law rights, freedoms and privileges listed in the Terms of Reference, and discusses how they have been protected by the Constitution, the Parliament and the courts. It also discusses current Commonwealth laws that limit traditional rights, freedoms and privileges and considers how such laws may be justified.

The ALRC invites submissions in response to the Interim Report and, in particular, submissions identifying Commonwealth laws that warrant further review. The closing date for submissions is 21 September 2015. The final Report is due to the Attorney-General at the end of December.

National Freedoms Symposia

The ALRC is holding a national series of discussions around the ALRC Freedoms Inquiry, to be held in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. The ‘roadshow’ kicks off in Brisbane on Wednesday 2 September, with the topic ‘A home is no longer a castle? – real property rights in the context of mining and environment claims’. These events are free but RSVP is essential.

See full program >>