On April 16, 2009, a small boat carrying a human cargo of asylum seekers from Afghanistan ignited and sank in Australian waters. Five passengers died, and many more were seriously injured. In the weeks following the sinking of Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) 36, the debate about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers was passionately renewed in parliament and across the nation's media.
In the wake of this, a group of lawyers and academics met in Canberra, to try and explain the extraordinarily complicated web of legislation and policy surrounding the processing of people entering the country by water.
Kerry Murphy is a migration agent and an accredited specialist in immigration law. His expertise was recognized when he was named in the Best Lawyers in Australia Survey 2008 published by the Financial Review.
He is a partner of D'Ambra Murphy Lawyers working on all aspects of migration law, including administrative and judicial review.
He is a Federation Press author and has over 100 articles published.
Murphy's experience includes working for the Department of Immigration and the Australian Office of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
Richard Towle took up the post as UNHCR Regional Representative for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific on March 22, 2007.
Towle is a New Zealander who joined UNHCR in Hong Kong in the early 1990s when he worked in a variety of capacities with the Vietnamese boat people, then moved to the
London office of UNHCR. He has since held various senior legal roles in the Department of
International Protection at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva and has been involved in the UNHCR development of polities and operations relating to human rights, internally displaced
persons and asylum-migration issues. His other UN experience includes a role as Chief of Mission for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, from 2001 to 2003.
More recently, Towle was a Member of the New Zealand Refugee Status Appeal Authority during a temporary absence from UNHCR. Prior to joining the UN, he was a Deputy Chair of
the Hong Kong Refugee Status Review Board, after working as a lawyer in New Zealand specializing in refugee and human rights issues.
Dr. Gregor Urbas is a senior lecturer at the Australian National University College of Law, specializing in criminal law.
Dr. Robin Warner
Dr. Robin Warner is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security.
Her expertise and research interests include Law of the Sea, oceans governance, marine environmental law, transnational crime and international criminal law. She was formerly the Assistant Secretary of the International Crime Branch of the Criminal Justice Division in the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department from 2002 to 2006.
During that period she led several Australian delegations negotiating mutual assistance, extradition and international transfer of prisoners' treaties with regional partners and Australian delegations to the UN Convention against Corruption negotiations in Vienna and the OECD Working Group on Foreign Bribery in Paris. Previously she served with the Royal Australian Navy as a legal officer. During her Defense Force legal career, Captain Warner occupied a wide range of positions including Director of International Law for the ADF and Deputy Director of Naval Legal Services. From 1996 to 2001, she was a member of several Australian delegations to multilateral and bilateral negotiations on Indonesia's archipelagic sea lanes proposal and to the UN Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans.
Dr. Warner is a graduate in Arts and Law from the University of Sydney and holds a Master of International Law degree from the Australian National University. She graduated as a PhD from the University of Sydney in November 2006. Her PhD research concerned the international law framework for protection of the marine environment and marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. She has published articles and chapters in Australian and international journals and books on international law.