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Law specialist looks at human rights in Australia


Brigid Veale
27 February 2008
Human rights in Australia will be the focus of an address by Victoria’s Solicitor-General, Pamela Tate (Senior Counsel), at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus on March 14.

Ms Tate, a constitutional, administrative and commercial law specialist, is the guest speaker for the Michael Kirby Lecture Series 2008, hosted by the School of Law and Justice. The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby, one of seven judges on the High Court, will be the guest speaker at a dinner following the seminar.

Ms Tate was the first woman appointed to the position of Solicitor-General in Victoria, a position she has held since 2003. Her primary responsibility is to represent Victoria in constitutional cases in the High Court of Australia.

In May 2006 she represented the State in the challenge to the validity of the Work Choices legislation. Other public interest cases have included the legal regulation of in vitro fertilisation procedures and cases involving abuse of power.

Professor Bee Chen Goh, Head of the Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice, said Ms Tate’s speech would focus on what a federal charter of human rights would look like.

“We are very lucky to have someone of Ms Tate’s experience here in Lismore. She has been involved with the development of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and is one of Australia’s leading law specialists,” Professor Goh said.

“This keynote address will be of interest not just to the region’s legal profession, but the community in general,” Professor Goh said.

Ms Tate graduated from Monash University in 1987 with a first-class honours degree in law and was awarded the Butterworth's research prize for her honours thesis. She has a first-class honours degree in philosophy from Otago University, and spent three years doing postgraduate studies in philosophy at Oxford University after obtaining a Commonwealth Scholarship.

Before taking up her current position she worked as a barrister for 12 years and was appointed as Senior Counsel (SC) in 2002. She has appeared in constitutional and other cases in the High Court including the national waterfront dispute (Patrick Stevedores v Maritime Union of Australia).

In 2005, Ms Tate was appointed to be Special Counsel to the Human Rights Consultative Committee, which proposed the enactment of a statutory Bill of Rights for Victoria. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities was passed by the Victorian Parliament in July 2006. During 2007 she took up a Visiting Fellowship with the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Michael Kirby Lecture Series will be held at 6pm on Friday, March 14, at the Whitebrook Theatre, Lismore campus. The cost for the lecture is $15. A lecture/dinner package, with guest Justice Michael Kirby, will be held at 7.30pm at the Zest Function Room, cost $100. All proceeds will go to the Library fund for Law.

Bookings can be made online at For enquiries contact Alice Hudson on 66269607 or email

Photo: Pamela Tate SC will be the guest speaker at Southern Cross University's Whitebrook Theatre, Lismore campus, on March 14.