HWL Ebsworth Government Lawyers' Conference

30 August 2019


HWL Ebsworth was pleased to engage with almost a hundred public sector legal professionals at its recent Government Lawyers’ Conference.

This seminar series, which is presented by HWL Ebsworth twice a year in both Melbourne and Geelong, focuses on current topics of importance for government lawyers in today’s legal and political landscape.

This month, HWL Ebsworth was joined by representatives from a range of government departments and agencies, including DPC, DHHS, DET, DoT, WorkSafe, TAC, ATO and NDIA.

Tony Lawrence from our Workplace Relations team, teamed up with our Media expert Nicholas Pullen to shine a light on the effects of social media attacks on organisations and employees. Such attacks can cause reputational damage, have financial implications and also result in an increased number of workers compensation claims and employer prosecutions under occupational health and safety legislation. Tony and Nicholas explored practical and legal options for addressing these risks, including reliance on the terms and conditions of the carriers on whose platforms the attacks appear and bringing claims under defamation and privacy and cyber stalking laws.

Our Privacy Law sessions always attract a lot of interest given the rapidly evolving state of privacy regulation in Australia. In this conference, Gina Tresidder examined two emerging privacy challenges, being the use of biometric data and how to successfully de-identify data. Tim Lee then addressed the non-mandatory but highly recommended process of preparing Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) for new projects. Drawing on recent experience, Tim outlined how lawyers can work with stakeholders to get the most out of their PIA processes and identify and mitigate privacy risks.

Commercial partner, Brendan Earle, drew from his own experiences to highlight key skills and considerations for negotiating contracts. Brendan discussed the unique advantages and challenges for government lawyers and how these can be harnessed to achieve better outcomes for all parties.

HWL Ebsworth was delighted to welcome guest speaker Dr Ron Ben-David, former Chairperson of the Essential Services Commission, to present his seminar, ‘Best Practice in Regulation?‘ Dr Ben-David questioned the historical three prong policy design regarding essential services, which focuses on competition, regulation and dispute resolution. The presentation discussed the differences in the essential services markets given the involuntary and inelastic nature of the services and the need for a “responsibility-based regulation” approach that should be taken for the benefit of consumers. Anthony Seyfort had the challenge of giving the presentation to our Geelong audience when Dr Ben-David was unable to make it, but we think all participants would agree that he did a sterling job.

Both conferences were ably chaired by Laura Young and ended with networking lunches and stimulating conversations. In Geelong, we also had the pleasure of networking in the sunshine while enjoying the spectacular views from the balcony of the Dome.

Our next Government Lawyers’ Conference will be held in February 2020. Please contact Anthony Seyfort at aseyfort@hwle.com.au if you would like us to put you down on the invite list.

By Gina Tresidder, Special Counsel and Eve Lillas, Solicitor

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