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2018 COAT National Conference
7 - 8 June, 2018I QT Canberra, ACT

Keynote Speakers

The Hon Robert French AC

Robert French was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on 1 September 2008 and retired from that office on 29 January 2017.

He is a graduate of the University of Western Australia in science and law. He was admitted in 1972 and practised as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia until 1983 when he went to the Independent Bar. He was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia in November 1986, an office he held until his appointment as Chief Justice on 1 September 2008. From 1994 to 1998 he was the President of the National Native Title Tribunal.

In 2010, he was made a Companion in the Order of Australia and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is a Founding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, a member of the American Law Institute, and an Honorary Life Member of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, the Australian Bar Association and the West Australian Bar Association.

Mr French was appointed as a Non-Permanent Justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in May 2017.

Since August 2016 he has been an Adjunct Professor at the Law School at the University of Western Australia, a Distinguished Honorary Professor at the Australian National University since October 2016 and from 2017 an Adjunct Professor at Monash University Law School.

Mr French is a Board member of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation. He is a member of the Committee on International Freedom of Scientists of the American Physical Society.

The Hon Robert Shenton French AC will speak to

'Access to Justice, Administrative Tribunals and the Rule of Law'

The focus of the address will be directed to the role played by administrative tribunalts in the legal system in Australia, how it fits into overarching concepts of the rule of law and the extent to which tribunals can enhance access to justice through their procedures, representational arrangements and expedition.

Professor Genevieve Bell


Professor Bell is the Director of the 3A Institute, Florence Violet McKenzie Chair, and a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University (ANU) as well as a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Intel Corporation. Prof Bell is a cultural anthropologist, technologist and futurist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development.

Prof Bell joined the ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science in February 2017, after having spent the past 18 years in Silicon Valley helping guide Intel’s product development by developing the company’s social science and design research capabilities.

Prof Bell now heads the newly established Autonomy, Agency and Assurance (3A) Institute, launched in September 2017 by the ANU in collaboration with CSIRO's Data61, in building a new applied science around the management of artificial intelligence, data, technology and their impact on humanity.

Prof Bell is the inaugural appointee to the Florence Violet McKenzie Chair at the ANU, named in honour Australia’s first female electrical engineer, which promotes the inclusive use of technology in society. Prof Bell also presented the highly acclaimed ABC Boyer Lectures for 2017, in which she interrogated what it means to be human, and Australian, in a digital world.

Prof Bell completed her PhD in cultural anthropology at Stanford University in 1998.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker


Chief Magistrate Walker was appointed to the ACT Magistrates Court in  April 2010.

Prior to her appointment as a Magistrate she had over 20 years experience in the legal profession working as a barrister in the ACT for the 10 years.  Magistrate Walker has extensive experience, which includes being a partner of a law firm, a crown prosecutor, a solicitor and a legal officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. She also tutored at the Australian National University and mentored junior practitioners.

Magistrate Walker is a keen advocate of alternative dispute resolution.  Recently she provided an email of support in relation to University of Canberra setting up an Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit in Law, by saying “I am of the view that any law degree which fails to address ADR options is also failing future lawyers and, more significantly, the community. There are very few areas of law and jurisdictions in which ADR is not now formally mandated, to some degree. A proper understanding of the forms and role of ADR, along with some knowledge as to its practice, is part of the basic skill set of a 21st century lawyer in Australia.” (By email on 20 March 2012).

Mr Tom Howe PSM QC


Tom Howe QC’s distinguished service to public law and Commonwealth litigation has been recognised in each of two ways: first, by conferral of the distinctive honour of being appointed a Commonwealth Queens Counsel in 2007; secondly, by the award of a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2015 for ‘outstanding public service through Commonwealth litigation’.

The PSM award citation stated that Tom ‘provides the highest level of guidance to the Government and its lawyers on significant and sensitive Commonwealth litigation….[in] precedent-setting cases, spanning various legal disciplines. Mr Howe has shaped substantial areas of public law and practice in areas as diverse as national security, employment law, administrative law and parliamentary privilege.’

Tom has been Chief Counsel of AGS Dispute Resolution Practice since 2002. He specialises in appearance work before courts and tribunals, and advising the Commonwealth government, in sensitive and complex matters of high public importance. He regularly appears for security and law enforcement agencies of the Commonwealth in proceedings involving protection of sensitive information.

Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA


Gordon Ramsay is a long-term, well-known and much-respected Canberran.

He lives in Latham with his family, and has worked at Kippax Uniting Church for the past 19 years, establishing and growing UnitingCare Kippax as one of Canberra’s best known and respected community service bodies. Belconnen is both his home and his passion. He loves this city and is determined to help it continue to build on the inclusive, human rights leadership of the past 15 years. He is dedicated to making this city a place where everyone can belong, be valued and have the opportunity to participate fully

Gordon has been involved in a wide range of local and ACT-wide bodies, all of which have aimed to improve the quality of life for Canberrans, especially those who are doing it tough. He has worked in ACT Anti Poverty Week, ACTCOSS, and has been a member of the ACT Community Inclusion Board and a Community Inclusion Advocate. He was a Community Champion for the 2020 Time To Talk movement. He is a member of the ACT Better Services Taskforce, which is bringing together the Human Services in the ACT to make sure that people are placed at the centre. In 2012, Gordon led the ACT Targeted Assistance Strategy.

A lawyer before his movement into the community sector, Gordon brings clear thinking and understanding to his work, his advocacy and the way that he relates to people of all ages. He has been in leadership positions not only in Canberra, but also across Australia for many years. He combines compassion, vision, energy and experience.

He was recognised in 2014 as a finalist in the Act Local Hero category of the Australian of the Year awards.

In his relaxing moments, Gordon is likely to be found (or heard) at the Brumbies, where he has been a season ticket holder for well over a decade. In other times he cooks: and often there will be one Gordon Ramsay preparing the recipes of the other Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay for Ginninderra – putting people first.

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