20 February 2017

The QUT Faculty of Law was delighted to host international jurist, educator and former judge, the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG at QUT last week.

Michael is well known for his many accomplishments, including serving as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission (1975-83); Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84); Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (1983-4); President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-96); President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-96) and Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009).

QUT Law students and winners of The Hon. Michael Kirby Contract Law Moot 2016, Storm Scarlett and Laura Faulkner, welcomed Michael to QUT over a morning tea, joined by Professor John Humphrey, Executive Dean of the QUT Faculty of Law, Associate Professor Judith McNamara, Head of the School of Law, and the QUT Kirby Moot Coach, Mr James Duffy.

Michael then delivered an exclusive seminar to high-achieving law and justice students, speaking of his experience as a Justice of the High Court of Australia.

“As a law student, some of the most memorable judgements I have studied have come from Justice Kirby. It was inspiring to learn first-hand about the life of a judge and discover how his reasoning is developed,” said Rebecca Colbrook, third year law student. 

Next, Michael spoke to QUT staff about the use of academic research and publications by judges, where he said that in his experience, academic research provided greater context to legal problems and assisted in outlining the core social issue to be solved.

Michael then joined members of QUT’s Intellectual Property and Innovation Law (IPIL) Research Program, the Australian Centre for Health Law Research (ACHLR) and guests at a forum on Access to Essential Medicines. Michael currently serves as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel (HLP) on Access to Essential Healthcare, so the forum was timely, allowing him to witness discussions on the Panel’s proposed solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between intellectual property, public health, and international law.

The forum was followed by the 5th ACHLR Annual Public Oration, ‘Human Rights Meets Global Pharma,’ held at the QUT Gardens Theatre. With more than 200 guests in attendance, Michael discussed the problems associated with access to medicines with respect to infectious diseases, neglected diseases, cancer and Hepatitis C.

“The large audience at the ACHLR Public Oration was enthralled by Michael’s insight into balancing access to essential medicine with the rights of ‘big pharma’,” said Professor Lindy Willmott, Co-director of ACHLR.

Michael is hopeful that the HLP Report will help overcome past divisions and conflicts with respect to access to essential medicines, and highlighted the importance of human rights when tackling global public health law. 

The Faculty sincerely thanks Michael for his support and looks forward to welcoming him on campus again in the near future.

Photos from Michael’s visit can be accessed on the Faculty’s Flickr account.

QUT Faculty of Law

The Hon. Michael Kirby delivering the delivering the 5th Annual Australian Centre for Health Law Research Public Oration on 'Human Rights Meets Global Pharma.'

Professor John Humphrey, Executive Dean of the QUT Faculty of Law, with the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG.


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