Matthew Zagor

 Visiting Fellow, March to November 2006

Matthew Zagor lectures in public and environmental law at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. He has a degree in Religious Studies with Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and an LLB from the University of New South Wales. Before joining the ANU, he worked on the India desk at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, and as the refugee coordinator and government liaison officer at Amnesty's Australian Section. Matthew has also practiced as a solicitor in several community legal centres and the Commonwealth Legal Aid Commission, working primarily with migrants and asylum-seekers. As a federal public servant, he worked in the Australian Greenhouse Office, the Migration Review Tribunal, and the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department. He was appointed in 2003 as a part-time Member of the Migration Review Tribunal, and was cross-appointed in 2005 to the Refugee Review Tribunal.

His recent research has focused on Australian jurisprudence concerning the mandatory detention of non-citizens, the human rights ramifications of Australia's anti-terrorism legislation, and the ongoing torture debate. In 2005 he developed new courses on the intersection of environmental law and Indigenous interests in land, and comparative US-American environmental law.

As a visiting fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, Matthew will continue his comparative research into the administrative detention of asylum-seekers and migrants, contrasting the approaches to indefinite detention taken by Australian, British and American political and legal institutions. The High Court of Australia is unique amongst these jurisdictions in having provided an unconditional stamp of approval for sweeping Parliamentary and executive powers. While the prima facie explanation for the difference in judicial outcomes is the absence of a bill of rights in Australia, such an approach fails to explain the appeal to fundamental constitutional values which informed the judgments of their Lordships and the US Supreme Court yet failed to influence the majority judges in the High Court. The broader aspect to the inquiry, therefore, will lie in the constitutional perspectives which these public law 'events' reflect, and what can be said in this context about the state of public law and constitutionalism in each polity.