Book Launch: Roger Douglas, Law, Liberty and the Pursuit of Terrorism (2014)

The La Trobe Law School invites you to the launch of Law, Liberty and the Pursuit of Terrorism by Roger Douglas on Tuesday 14 April 2015 at the State Library of Victoria. The book will be launched by Bret Walker SC.

Law, Liberty and the Pursuit of Terrorism compares responses to terrorism by five liberal democracies—the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—over the past 15 years. The book examines each nation’s development and implementation of counterterrorism law, specifically in the areas of information-gathering, the definition of terrorist offenses, due process for the accused, detention, and torture and other forms of coercive questioning.

Professor Douglas finds that terrorist attacks elicit pressures for quick responses, often allowing national governments to accrue additional powers. But emergencies are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for such laws, which may persist even after fears have eased. He argues that responses are influenced by both institutional interests and prior beliefs, and complicated when the exigencies of office and beliefs point in different directions. He also argues that citizens are wary of government’s impingement on civil liberties and that courts exercise their capacity to restrain the legislative and executive branches. Professor Douglas concludes that the worst antiterror excesses have taken place outside of the law rather than within, and that the legacy of 9/11 includes both laws that expand government powers and judicial decisions that limit those very powers.

Professor Roger Douglas

Professor Roger Douglas has taught at La Trobe since 1972, after having earlier been a tutor in Political Science at the University of Melbourne. His main ongoing research has related to the use of law in relation to political dissent, and in particular, to the way in which law is used both by governments and by their adversaries. This work has included research into the control of demonstrations; a study of Australian governments’ attempts to use law to control the activities of the Communist Party of Australia; and most recently, a study of the law and politics of counter-terrorism. A parallel interest has involved the study of courts as quasi-political institutions, and this coexists uneasily with some largely ‘black letter’ legal research which is, of course predicated on the assumption that judicial decision-making can also be described as ‘law bound’ – and especially so when one is examining lower courts. He has taught numerous subjects including: Criminal Behaviour; Criminal Justice; Law and Psychology; Quantitative Methods for Criminologists; Law and Economics; Socio-Legal Research Methods; Policy Making in a Federation, and more recently, Civil Procedure, Administrative law and Law of Equity and Trusts.

Bret Walker

Bret Walker SC graduated with a degree in Arts and Law from the University of Sydney. He was admitted to the NSW bar in 1979 and is a practitioner of the High Court of Australia. He has since been admitted to practice in multiple Australian jurisdictions as well as in New Zealand. Bret took silk in December 1993, and was appointed Senior Counsel (NSW) at this time and Queen’s Counsel (WA) in 1994. He practices predominantly in general appellate advocacy, administrative, constitutional and equity/commercial law.

Bret has been appointed to several senior positions including President of the NSW Bar Association, President of the Law Council of Australia, Chairman of LCA National Criminal Law Liaison Committee and Governor of the Law Foundation of NSW, amongst others. Bret was appointed as the first Independent National Security Legislation Monitor in 2011. He has also been the Commissioner for a number of Inquiries including those into the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Institute of Forensic Medicine and Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals. More recently Bret was singled out as one of the barristers with “exceptional recommendations in their field” and was given the “star individual status” through the annual Chambers and Partners survey.


Date: Tuesday 14 April 2015

Time: 5pm to 6.30pm

Venue: State Library of Victoria, Red Rotunda Room, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Cost: Free

RVSP: Canapés and cocktails. Please send RSVP to by Friday 10 April 2015

Marc Trabsky