Obiter Dicta

June 2019


Vale Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke
The Hon Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL

With the death of Bob Hawke (the Hon Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL), Australia has lost one of its longest-serving and most successful Prime Ministers, and the Law School one of its most distinguished graduates. As Prime Minister between 1983 and 1991, Hawke was responsible for important social and economic reforms, for example creating Medicare, introducing the Family Assistance Scheme, floating the dollar, deregulating the financial sector and entering into an arrangement with the ACTU regulating wage demands in return for keeping inflation under control. Environmentalists will remember him for halting the construction of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania; lawyers should not forget the part he played in the passing of the Australia Acts, which finally severed Australia’s legislative and judicial links with the UK. Before entering politics, Hawke rose to prominence with the ACTU, becoming responsible for wage arbitration and ultimately, in 1969, being elected its President. Ten years later he entered Parliament, and in 1983, in just a few short weeks, he took over from Bill Hayden as leader and then led the ALP to electoral victory. He was to win a further three elections in his nine years in office before finally being displaced by Paul Keating in 1991.

I was lucky enough to meet Bob in March of this year, in connection with my work on what will become a centenary history of the Law School. Though he was not very well, he kindly consented to see me at his Sydney home, and his wife Blanche made us very welcome. We talked on the terrace overlooking the river, where Bob spent much of his time in his last years.

Educated at Perth Modern School, Bob went on to study at the Law School between 1947 and 1950. He always retained happy memories of the Law School and the University, writing in his memoirs:

To be a student at the University of Western Australia in 1947 was an unlimited joy. … This sense of exhilaration was enhanced by the incomparable beauty of the university campus … . The campus throbbed with life. Social, political and religious clubs catered for all tastes, while the sporting environment and facilities were superb. In the immediate post-war period an additional dimension came from the presence at university of many ex-servicemen studying under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme.

Bob was an extremely talented and ambitious student, vying with his great friend and contemporary John Toohey for the highest honours. In first year his marks were affected by a bad motorcycle accident which caused him to miss a good deal of study, but there was a marked improvement in second year, and in his third year (as he reminded me) he was awarded the John Norman Barker Prize for the best third year student. Nonetheless, because of his first year marks, he needed distinctions in every final year subject to finish with first class honours. He managed four out of five, but could not get an A in Equity, and so had to be content with second class honours. John Toohey finished ahead of him and was awarded a first. Much later, as Prime Minister, Bob had the pleasure of approving Toohey’s appointment to the High Court.

Hawke and Toohey were part of a small class of about 15 students – all male. Another member of the class that Bob remembered was Alan Barblett, later Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western Australia (and a member of the Australian hockey team at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956). In 1947 Professor Beasley was still the only full-time staff member. He taught Constitutional Law, a subject Bob picked out as the one that was the most use to him in later life. He remembered Beasley as rather left wing, a strong opponent of the move to ban the Communist Party (eventually struck down by the High Court). Beasley supported the Law Faculty’s sporting endeavours, and Bob remembered a booming voice shouting “Well played, Hawke” from the touchline during a rugby match. He was fully involved in all aspects of university life: he and Toohey were part of the Labor Club for a time, and by his last year in Law School Bob was becoming very involved in Guild affairs – possibly a reason, he thought, why he missed his first.

After graduating he stayed on to complete a BA, and became President of the Guild in 1952. Two facts reflect his many-sided contribution. In the late 1970s Briefs more than once reprinted the Law School Song, with six additional verses credited to Bob Hawke. One of the more printable verses reads “To get Bs, Bs, you’ve got to be in with ‘Beas’ … in the Faculty of Law”: clearly the Law School at this time was a very male place and alcohol played its part. At the same time, however, Hawke showed considerable concern for others. He helped to establish an International Club for visiting Asian students, because he thought they suffered from isolation on campus, and right to the end of his life a book signed by many of these students remained an important possession. It is no surprise that, as Prime Minister, after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Bob Hawke took the decision to allow Chinese students to stay in Australia.

In 1953 Bob was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and proceeded to Oxford, where he completed a B Litt thesis on the Australian arbitration system which became a standard work of reference – and foreshadowed his later career with the ACTU. However, he also played a full part in the social and sporting life of Oxford (acquiring the nickname “Digger”) and it was in Oxford that he set a world record by downing a yard of ale (two and a half pints) in 11 seconds.

Bob Hawke and British Prime Minister John Major

Bob was a pretty good cricketer, playing first grade for University and later for the ACT. At Oxford, he was good enough to be selected to go on the Oxford tour in 1954, at a time when the Oxford side contained two future England captains (Colin Cowdrey, who remained a friend for many years, and Mike Smith) and several others who later played Test or first-class cricket. I was keen to ask him about his cricket at Oxford, since I had known two of his Oxford team-mates who later played for Warwickshire. (In another life, before coming to Western Australia, I had spent several summers as scorer for various Warwickshire teams, and in some first-class and Test matches.) He had been a wicket-keeper, and he thought that if he had kept up his wicket-keeping he might perhaps have been selected instead of the chosen wicket-keeper; as it was, he was twelfth man for the match against Cambridge at Lord’s, and spent some time fielding as a substitute. One of the players I had known, Jimmy Allan (who later played for Scotland, Kent and Warwickshire) had been Bob’s companion when Bob’s van was stopped by the police and he was charged with stealing (stealing his own van!) and dangerous driving. Allan, called as a witness, was late for court, and the judge was not impressed with his excuse that he had been playing in a college rugby final – until it emerged that Allan had been playing for the judge’s old college! The proceedings then took a different turn and Hawke won his case.

Bob never forgot his time at the Law School and the University. He returned on a number of occasions, for example, to deliver one of the lectures held to mark the Law School’s fiftieth anniversary in 1977, to receive an honorary D Litt in 1984, and to launch the publication 100 Treasures from UWA at the UWA Foundation Dinner in Winthrop Hall in 2011. He died on 16 May 2019. Thus we record the passing of a remarkable man, one who made a notable contribution to the Law School and the University, and one of Australia’s greatest Prime Ministers.

–Emeritus Professor Peter Handford

National honours

  • The Honourable Justice Michelle Gordon was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia, recognised for her eminent service to the judiciary, and to the law, to legal education and judicial administration, as a role model, and to the community. She is a Justice of the High Court of Australia who has served as a Justice of the Federal Court of Australia and has practised in state and federal courts principally in commercial, equity, taxation and general civil matters.
  • Professor Rick Krever was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia. Professor Krever is a researcher in taxation law and policy who works with international aid agencies and international organisations to help build revenue capacity in developing nations.
  • The Honourable Neville John Owen was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. Justice Owen was recognised for his distinguished service to the law, and to the judiciary, to legal education, and to the community of Western Australia.

Student achievements

Dean Professor Natalie Skead with guest speakers and teaching award winners
L-R: Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Peter Dean, Associate Professor Stella Tarrant,
Dean and Head of School Professor Natalie Skead and Dr Andrew Lu OAM

2018 Awards Ceremony

The Law School’s Awards Ceremony was held on 29 May in the magnificent Winthrop Hall. This highlight of the School’s calendar celebrated the achievements of students and staff in the 2018 academic year and recognised the 2019 bursary and scholarship recipients and the generosity of our donors.  UWA Law School alumnus Dr Andrew Lu OAM, partner at HBA Legal, gave a brilliant, deeply personal and compelling address on diversity and well-being in law. Associate Professor Stella Tarrant, UWA Law School, inspired all present with her reflections on law, justice, fairness, kindness and love. Photos of the night are available for viewing and download.

Notable award recipients were:

  • Rachel Eaton – Herbert Smith Freehills award for the Juris Doctor Graduate with the highest weighted average mark
  • Stephen Puttick (in absentia) – King and Wood Mallesons Prize in Law for the Juris Doctor student who achieved the highest mark in Advanced Legal Research by Invitation
  • Dean’s List recipients – the Dean's List recognises our outstanding JD graduates. The 2018 recipients are listed on the Law School website.

For information on how to support a student through prizes or scholarships, contact

Tayu WIlker with staff
L-R: Denise Glennon, Denis Glennon, Tayu Wilker and Una Glennon

2019 Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship

Third-year Law student with a passion for helping others Tayu Wilker has been awarded this year’s Ciara Glennon Memorial Law Scholarship

Tayu completed a Bachelor of Commerce at UWA in 2012 and is now undertaking the Juris Doctor. She has also worked as a paralegal at Jackson McDonald in the legal technology support team, and as a volunteer for several organisations, including the Blackstone Society, Piddington Society, Oak Tree Foundation and WA Department of Communities.

As part of the scholarship, Tayu will undertake a paid internship with Ashurst.

UWA Jessup Moot team standing on stairs together
Olivia Everett, Katherine Swann, Bremer Moore, Harry Sanderson and Jesse Martino [pictured L-R]
and their coaches Charmaine Roughley and Matheo Vinciullo [seated] and Andrew Hanna [absent]

Jessup Moot

The 2019 Jessup Moot team performed exceptionally well in the National Championship held in Canberra in February. After a challenging competition, the team made it into the quarter-finals where unfortunately they were defeated by Sydney Law School.

Congratulations to the team Olivia Everett, Katherine Swann, Bremer Moore, Harry Sanderson and Jesse Martino and their coaches Charmaine Roughley and Matheo Vinciullo and Andrew Hanna [absent] on an outstanding Jessup campaign and a huge thank you to everyone who gave their time to judge practice moots. Congratulations also to Olivia and Katherine who were named the 4th and 8th best oralists respectively in the preliminary rounds.

If you'd like to support the Jessup Moot team, please contact the Law School at

Student Internships

The legal internship unit provides students with a wonderful opportunity to experience a practical legal placement with a law firm, barrister, CLC, government department, court, tribunal or other legal host organisation. 2018 internship student Matthew Price said he "relished the chance to help people by applying my Law School knowledge to real world situations".

The internship runs for one day per week for 12 weeks over second semester. Feedback about the internship from both students and hosts is overwhelmingly positive. This may explain why we have received a record number of 90 applications for the 2019 internship.

If you're interested in enquiring about the UWA Law School Legal Internship program, please contact Penny Carruthers:

Staff news

Teaching excellence

Dr Melanie O'Brien and Adrian Ricciardo holding certificates   

The Teaching Excellence Awards recognise the quality and dedication of teaching staff in the Law School and encourage quality and innovative teaching practices. The Law School congratulates two Law School recipients of Faculty of Arts, Business, Education and Law Teaching Awards in April: 

  • Dr Melanie O’Brien: Excellence in Teaching in the category of Early Career
    Mr Aidan Ricciardo: Excellence in Teaching in the category of Tutors & Sessional Staff

The hard work and passion of both recipients was recognised by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) in a presentation at the Law Awards Ceremony on 29 May.


Research excellence

Australian Research Council's Excellence in Research

The latest Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018 results ranked the Law School's academic research as above world standard. Alongside ERA, the Engagement and Impact Assessment results showed our performance in translating research into meaningful benefits for the community was also strong.

In addition, the significant social impact of research on climate change and displaced communities led by Associate Professor David Hodgkinson was recognised with the highest possible ranking in the Research Impact assessment.


Professor John Chandler, Professor Natalie Skead, The Honourable Kim Beasley AC, Professor Richard Bartlett   

Petroleum Resource Management Seminar and Book Launch

The Centre for Mining, Energy and Natural Resources Law (CMENRL) launched the Centre’s Co-Director Professor John Chandler’s book, Petroleum Resource Management: How Governments Manage Their Offshore Petroleum Resources on Wednesday 13 March at the Law School. The book was launched by The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia, followed by a panel discussion chaired by Professor Richard Bartlett with panel members Professor Erika Techera and Mr Gavin Ryan, General Counsel of PTTEP Australasia. The launch, followed by drinks and conversations in the Law School courtyard, was very well attended and a great success.

[Photo L to R: Professor John Chandler, Dean and Head of School Professor Natalie Skead, The Honourable Kim Beasley AC, Professor Richard Bartlett]



Law changes urged in property issues involving family violence

We need government support to improve legal aid services to help people resolve property matters where family violence is involved, according to research led by UWA's Associate Professor Jill Howieson, Professor Robyn Carroll, Associate Professor Sarah Murray and Dr Ian Murray. The research project was a collaboration with researchers from Murdoch University, the University of Notre Dame and Law Access.

Lead author Associate Professor Jill Howieson said family and domestic violence was one of the biggest social and legal issues facing Western Australia, with WA reporting the highest proportion of assaults related to family violence in Australia.


Staff member wins literary award

Law School academic and award-winning writer and illustrator, Dr Ambelin Kwaymullina and co-author Ezekiel Kwaymullina recently received the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Writing for Young Adults for their book Catching Teller Crow. The book has also been shortlisted for the Indie Awards and the Aurealis Awards, long-listed for the Australian Book Industry Awards, and named a Notable Book 2019 in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards.


Disability Discrimination Commissioner appointed

The Law School congratulates Dr Ben Gauntlett, Senior Lecturer at the UWA Law School, on his appointment as Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission and wishes him every success in his new role. 


New staff

This semester we welcomed to our teaching staff alumni and former Law School sessional teachers, Dr Natalie Brown and Aidan Ricciardo.

We also welcomed Dr Matthew Ruggiero and Dr Darren Moroney, who joined the UWA Mediation Clinic as Research Project Officers.


Academic promotions

The Law School congratulates Dr Fiona McGaugheyDr Renee Barker and Dr Juan He on their well-deserved appointments to Senior Lecturer.


New adjuncts

The UWA Law School welcomes the following new Adjunct Professors:

  • The Honourable Wayne Martin AC, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
  • The Honourable Stephen Thackray, former Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western Australia.
  • Mr Anthony Willinge, Francis Burt Chambers, Honorary Consul to the Netherlands.

Law School spotlight

Alumni news