Annual Tax Lectures

2022 Vagueness in Tax Law

Presented by Emeritus Professor Judith Freedman (University of Oxford) with The Hon Kenneth Hayne AC KC (Former Justice of the High Court of Australia) as discussant. Tax law may be thought to an area where precision is of the utmost importance. A taxpayer must know with certainty what their liability is. There is an obvious need for precision in tax rates, for example. Nevertheless, tax law employs many indeterminate concepts. Is that an inevitable result of the difficulties of drafting, or problems with the underlying policy, or can vagueness be a valuable design technique which should be embraced, sometimes at least, when drafting tax legislation? Drawing particularly on the work of Professor Timothy Endicott, this paper argues that vagueness has value in tax law as in other areas and that, properly utilised and coupled with appropriate safeguards, it does not need to result in a deficit in the rule of law. The Tax Group's 17th Annual Tax Lecture was held on Tuesday 15 November.

2021 Tax and the Rule of Law

Presented by Mr Mark Leibler AC (senior partner of Arnold Bloch and Leibler). Without the rule of law, taxation amounts to little more than state-sanctioned theft on a grand scale. But, when the ever-more excruciating complexity and uncertainty of Australian tax law requires the Commissioner of Taxation to interpret and apply the law without authoritative guidance, there is an increasing risk of legal but unjust application of taxation law. In this Annual Tax Lecture, held on Wednesday 23 March 2022, Mr Leibler explored what this means for taxpayers, who rely on the Commissioner acting fairly, and should be protected for operating within the framework of the Commissioner’s past guidance or practice. Professor Pip Nicholson opened the lecture with the Hon Susan Crennan QC AC giving the vote of thanks. Read Mr Leibler's lecture on the pre-publication version of the paper or watch the recording.

2020 Fixing the Defective Jigsaw

Presented by Professor Graeme Cooper from the University of Sydney. In his lecture, Graeme discussed the problems with Australian tax legislation and how we might achieve better tax law. The Tax Group's 15th Annual Tax Lecture was held on Thursday 15 October. It was opened by the Melbourne Law School's Dean, Professor Pip Nicholson with Terry Murphy QC giving the Vote of Thanks to close the event. The lecture's recording and presentation slides are now available to view.

2019 Tax Stability

Presented by The Honour Justice Jennifer Davies, from the Federal Court of Australia. Justice Davies is also a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne lecturing in postgraduate courses and is on the board of the International Association of Tax Judges. The lecture, held on Tuesday 29th October, examined the challenges for certainty and consistency in the application of Australia's tax laws posed by the increasingly international commercial environment and changing legislative framework in response to the globalisation of tax policy.

Presentation slides

Audio Recording

Image Gallery

2018 Fragmentation of Income Tax in the 21st Century: Tax Treaties as Dark Matter

Presented by Professor Peter Harris, from the University of Cambridge. Professor Harris will also be teaching Comparative Corporate Tax (August 2018) in the Melbourne Law Masters. Held on Wednesday 22nd August, the presentation slides can be accessed here.

2016 Can't Tax; Won't Tax. Some Reflections on Jurisdiction to Impose and Collect Taxes

Presented by Philip Baker QC, barrister at Field Court tax Chambers, Gray's Inn. Mr Baker is a former Senior Fellow at the Melbourne Law School and Visiting Professor at Oxford University. Held on Wednesday 31st August, this lecture is not available.

2015 Tax Avoidance: A View from the Dark Side

Presented by David Bloom QC, one of Australia's leading silks specialising in revenue and taxation. Mr Bloom spoke on  Held on Wednesday 5th August. Please click here for a copy of the speech

2014 Taxation and the Federal Court: Past, Present and Future

Presented by  Chief Justice James Allsop AO, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. Chief Justice Allsop spoke on. Held on Tuesday 5th August, this lecture is not available.

2013 The Law of Contracts, Companies and Trusts as Criteria for Tax Liability

Presented by Professor William Gummow AC, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. Held on Thursday 12th September, please click here for a copy of the speech. Professor Gummow's lecture is also at (2014) 37(3) Melbourne University Law Review 334.

2012 The Commonwealth's Taxing Powers and its Limits - Are We There Yet?

Presented by The Hon Justice Michelle Gordon of the Federal Court of Australia. Held on Wednesday 29th August, please click here for a copy of the speech. Justice Gordon's lecture is at (2013) 36(3) Melbourne University Law Review 1038.

2011 International Tax Policy: A Current View from the United States

Presented by Professor David Rosenbloom of New York University. Held on Wednesday 3rd August, please click here for a copy of the speech. This lecture is now published at is (2012) 41 ATRev 126.

2010 Annual Tax Lecture

Presented by The Hon. Justice Richard Edmonds from the Federal Court of Australia. Held on Tuesday 17th August, please click here for a copy of the speech. Justice Edmonds' lecture is published in (2011) 35(1) Melbourne University Law Review 236.

2009 Tax Uncertainty

Presented by The Hon. Justice Tony Pagone, of the Supreme Court of VictoriaHeld on Thursday 20th August, please click here for a copy of the speech. Justice Pagone's paper was published in (2009) (33) Melbourne University Law Review pp 886-906.

2008 Sham in Tax Law After Raftland Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation

Presented by The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby, of the High Court of Australia. This paper was published in the Melbourne University Law Review. Citation: The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, 'Of 'Sham' and Other Lessons for Australian Revenue Law' (2008) (32) Melbourne University Law Review pp 868-871. To download a copy of the paper, click here.

2007 Managing Tax Avoidance: Recent UK Experience

Presented by Professor John Tiley CBE of the University of Cambridge. A copy of his lecture is available for download here.

2006 The Historical Significance of the High Court's decision in Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Myer Emporium

Presented by The Hon. Justice Neil Young of the Federal Court presented a paper titled . This paper is published in the Melbourne University Law Review. Citation: Neil J Young, 'The Historical Significance of the High Court's Decision inFederal Commisioner of Taxation v The Myer Emporium Ltd' (2007) (31) Melbourne University Law Review 266. To download a copy of the published paper, click here.

2005 Tax Avoidance and the High Court since Sir Garfield Barwick

Presented by Allan Myers QC, one of Australia's most eminent barristers. This lecture is available for download here.