Keynote Speakers and Special Guests


Stephen Gageler AC

Stephen John Gageler was appointed to the High Court in October 2012. At the time of his appointment he was Solicitor-General of Australia.  He is a graduate of the Australian National University and has post-graduate qualifications from Harvard University. He was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1989 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. Before his appointment as Solicitor-General in 2008, he practised as a barrister extensively throughout Australia principally in constitutional law, administrative law and commercial law.

Meredith Leigh

Meredith is the acting First Parliamentary Counsel with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, which is responsible for drafting all principal legislation, all regulations and a range of legislative instruments for the Australian Government. OPC is also responsible for the publication of Commonwealth legislation through the Federal Register of Legislation.

Meredith has 23 years of drafting experience. She has worked extensively with all Departments and many agencies, including in the areas of tax, corporations law, education, and more recently counter-terrorism legislation and electoral legislation.

She is also a member of the inaugural Board of the Australian Government Legal Service which supports a whole-of-government, high quality, consistent and coordinated approach to the delivery of legal services and the management of legal risk across the Commonwealth.

Before joining OPC, Meredith worked for a short period as a corporate lawyer at Allen, Allen and Hemsley.

Dr Virginia Marshall

Dr Virginia Marshall is Wiradjiri Nyemba. She is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, with the Schools of Regulation & Global Governance & Fenner Environment and Science. Virginia is the leading legal scholar on Indigenous Australian water rights. Recognised by the University of Victoria BC as a Distinguished Woman Scholar. National winner of the AIATSIS WEH Stanner Prize for best Indigenous thesis. Author of the award winning seminal book Overturning Aqua Nullius (2017). Virginia is Principal Solicitor in her law firm practising in native title, Traditional Knowledge protection, water and human rights. She is a member of the Australian National University’s ‘Climate Change Institute’, Human Research Ethics Committee ANU, Water Expert for the World Economic Forum, Executive Board member and human rights adviser to the Indigenous Peoples Organisation (Australia), member of the Advisory Panel for an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and ‘Water Justice Hub’.

Professor John McMillan AO

John was the Australian Information Commissioner from 2010-15, responsible for administering freedom of information and privacy laws and promoting information policy. He has also held the statutory positions of Commonwealth Ombudsman (2003-10), Integrity Commissioner (Acting) for the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (2007), NSW Ombudsman (Acting) (2015-17), and member of the Australian Copyright Tribunal (2015-18). He is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University. John was a joint founding member of the Freedom of Information Campaign Committee in the 1970s, which spearheaded the public campaign for FOI legislation in Australia.

The Honourable Chief Justice Helen Murrell, Chief Justice, ACT Supreme Court

On 28 October 2013, Helen Gay Murrell was sworn in as the first female Chief Justice of the Australian Capital Territory.

Her Honour attended the University of New South Wales, graduating in 1977 with a BA/LLB degree. In 1981, her Honour obtained a Diploma of Criminology from the University of Sydney.

Her Honour was admitted as a solicitor in 1977. From 1977 to 1981, her Honour practised at the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office and NSW Legal Aid Commission. From 1981 to 1996, her Honour was at the NSW Bar, practising in criminal law, administrative law, environmental law, common law, and equity. In 1994, her Honour was appointed the first Environmental Counsel for the NSW Environment Protection Authority. In 1995, her Honour was appointed Senior Counsel in New South Wales.

From 1996 to 2013, her Honour was a Judge of the District Court of New South Wales. In 1996, her Honour was also an Acting Judge in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. From 1997 to 1999, her Honour was President of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal of New South Wales and a Deputy President of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales (Equal Opportunity Division). In 1998, her Honour was appointed the first Senior Judge of the Drug Court of New South Wales, a position held until 2003. In 1999, her Honour was a member of the United Nations Expert Working Group on Drug Courts in Vienna. From 2005 to 2013, her Honour was Deputy Chairperson of the New South Wales Medical Tribunal.

Her Honour has a longstanding involvement in judicial education. From 2016 to 2020, her Honour was the Chair of the National Judicial College of Australia (NJCA). Currently, her Honour is Chair of the NJCA Jury Management Program Committee and a member of the Judicial Bias Committee. Her Honour is a life member of the NJCA.

Her Honour is a Committee Member of the Australian Association of Women Judges, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, Patron of the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association (ACT Chapter), and Patron of the Justices of the Peace Association (ACT).

Associate Professor Heather Roberts

Dr Heather Roberts is an Associate Professor of Law at the Australia National University. She has honours degrees in law, history and Asian studies, and PhD  explored the constitutional jurisprudence of former Justice of the High Court of Australia Sir William Deane. Heather’s research interests lie in property law, constitutional law, and legal and judicial history and biography. She has been recognised nationally and internationally as a leading expert on court ceremony. In her current research, funded by a fellowship from the Australian Research Council, she in examining ceremony in Australian Supreme Courts since 1901. This project explores how history, geography, and stakeholder priorities (be they those of the executive, the legal profession or the judiciary) are recorded as part of court archives, and how they offer a rich narrative of perceptions of the ‘ideal judge’ in Australia.

More information will be made available shortly. Please check back at a later date.