15 December 1997

A new chair in administrative law, to be named after Sir Gerard Brennan, Chief Justice of Australia's High Court, is to be established at the T. C. Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland.

The $1.4 million chair will be funded jointly by the University and the private sector over seven years then will be maintained in perpetuity by the University.

Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennan graduated from the University in 1951.

A Development Committee, headed by barrister Mr Ian Callinan QC, has been established to raise $700,000 to supplement the University's commitment.

A world-wide search for a distinguished scholar in the field of administrative law will be undertaken for appointment to the chair.

There is a great need for lawyers, public servants and other professionals who encounter government in their daily work, to gain better understanding of administrative processes and the legal rights of citizens with respect to official actions, according to Dr Suri Ratnapala, Acting Head of the T C Beirne School of Law.

He said establishment of the Sir Gerard Brennan chair recognised the need to develop a field of specialisation in administrative law and practice at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

"Currently, all over the world, there is an on-going reassessment of the role of the state, particularly with respect to the economy and the provision of public goods, a development which increases the importance of administrative law study and reform," Dr Ratnapala said.

He said that in the modern age government was having a profound impact on the economic, social and political life of communities and no sector of business or industry, no profession or occupation and no firm was immune from government regulation.

"Official actions can and often do impair the rights and liberties of individual citizens and administrative law is concerned with ensuring the legality, fairness and procedural regularity of official actions," Dr Ratnapala said.

Establishment of the new chair is an integral part of a wider process of expansion and development within the T C Beirne School of Law, recognised as one of Australia's leading law schools.

Highlights of the expansion and development program include:

- Curriculum and teaching reforms including compulsory student evaluations of teaching.
- Internet material delivery and international exchange programs.
- Expansion of postgraduate degree courses, including an Australian breakthrough in the development of an applied law masters degree for non-law professionals.
- A dramatic increase in doctoral and masters research enrolments.
- Establishment of a new interdisciplinary centre, The Centre for the Legal and Economic Study of Institutions.
- a $1 million infrastructural improvement project including establishment of new advanced computer facilities to be completed by mid-1988.

"This program will see us establish new benchmarks in teaching and research as well as initiating exciting new programs at graduate and undergraduate level, " Dr Ratnapala said.

"An important part of the process has been the Law School's commitment to interact intensively with the legal profession, business, industry and government to provide educational services more immediately relevant to their needs."

The Law School's graduates include not only the current Chief Justice of Australia but also former Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs. Law School graduates have won nine of all Rhodes Scholarships awarded to Queenslanders in the past 12 years.

For further information, please contact Dr Suri Ratnapala on (07) 3365 1021 or (07) 3374 0765 after hours.