Speakers and Program

Hon. John Anderson AO, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of Overseas Council Australia

The Honourable John Anderson AOThe Hon John Anderson AO, MA (Syd) lives in north-west NSW, farming crops and cattle. His family have been graziers and landowners in northern New South Wales since the 1840s. John is well-known as a politician of deep Christian conviction and integrity. He served Australia faithfully for nineteen years as the Member for Gwydir in the Federal Parliament, holding various ministerial portfolios including six years as Deputy Prime Minister. John is passionate about his Christian faith and Christian mission and is in demand as a speaker nationally and internationally in churches, and Christian groups. He addresses issues of concern such as “Christian Freedoms and the West: can we take them for granted”. He is Patron for Scripture Union in Queensland and is strongly committed to strengthening Christian marriage with the family as the fundamental unit of society, focusing on parenting in general and fathering in particular. John is also the chairman of Overseas Council Australia which invests in strategic evangelical Bible colleges throughout the developing world. He and his wife Julia have four adult children.

Scott Stephens, specialist commentator on religion and ethics for ABC radio and television and co-presenter of RN’s The Minefield

Scott Stephens is editor of the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website, and specialist commentator on religion and ethics for ABC radio and television. He co-presents RN’s The Minefield with Waleed Aly and presented two series of the critically acclaimed “Life’s Big Questions” program for Compass on ABC1. Before joining the ABC, Scott taught theology, ethics and Semitic studies for many years. He has published widely on moral philosophy, theology and political theory, and is currently writing a book on whether public ethics can survive in a media age. He is editing a further two volumes: on theological ethics and social order, and on political Islam and the collapse of the Arab Spring. He has spoken at dozens of international conferences on issues ranging from theology and aesthetics through to education and mental health.

Fiona Simpson MP, LNP Member for Maroochydore, former Parliamentary Speaker

Fiona Simpson MP, LNP Member for MaroochydoreFiona Simpson is the LNP member for Maroochydore. She has won eight elections and has campaigned extensively across the State to help other candidates rebuild the conservative team. Fiona was a key player in the formation of the LNP, a merger between the former National and Liberal Parties which she believed was important to restore conservative government in Queensland. After the March 2012 win of the new Liberal National Party Government, Fiona was elected to the position of Speaker in the 54th Parliament of Queensland, making her the Parliament’s first female Speaker in its 150 years. She has served in shadow portfolios such as health, transport, main roads, tourism, women, communities and housing, and has post graduate management qualifications. In 2013 she was included in the Queensland Young Women’s Christian Association’s list of 125 Leading Women. Fiona has a reputation for hard work and diligent service to her electorate and the people of Queensland. She subscribes to the motto of service above self.

Lieutenant General,  John Murray Sanderson AC (Ret.), former Governor of WA and retired Chief of the Australian Army

Lieutenant General John Murray SandersonLieutenant General John Sanderson is former Governor of Western Australia, a position he retired from in 2005 after more than five years in that role. General Sanderson graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in December 1961, and for more than 40 years was engaged on operations and defence planning at the operational and strategic levels. General Sanderson was UN Force Commander in Cambodia 1991-93 and Chief of the Australian Army 1995-1998. He has had a long-term interest in the philosophy and the practical dimensions of international intervention and is extensively published on these subjects. He has lectured on the subject of peace building at many institutions and has been a strong advocate of human rights as the basis of national and international reconciliation. Having been active as an adviser to various governments on community development and Indigenous issues, he is presently a Board Member and Deputy Chairman of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. General Sanderson is an Adjunct Professor of both Murdoch University and Griffith University.

Michael Cooney, Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre and former speechwriter for Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Michael Cooney, Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre Michael Cooney is the Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre, a Labour think tank promoting the advancement of public policy debate and progressive thinking in Australia. He was previously Speechwriter to Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard MP from 2010 – 2013, and is the author of The Gillard Project: My Thousand Days of Despair and Hope, published this year by Penguin. The CSSRS is hosting the Brisbane launch of Cooney’s book on the evening of the conference. He has since held a position as Senior Adviser at the HR Coombs Policy Forum, Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. Michael was the founding Policy Director at the progressive think tank Per Capita from March 2007 to December 2008 and has remained a Per Capita fellow. Prior to this, he worked on the staff of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party for five years, including three years as Principal Policy Adviser to Federal Labor Leaders Kim Beazley and Mark Latham. He has also worked on the staff of the ACT Labor Government and in the Australian Public Service.

Professor Nicholas Aroney (Ph.D), Professor of Constitutional Law, The University of Queensland

Professor Nicholas Aroney (Ph.D), Professor of Constitutional LawNicholas Aroney is Professor of Constitutional Law and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law within the TC Beirne School of Law at The University of Queensland. Professor Aroney has published widely in the fields of constitutional law, federalism, legal theory and law and religion. He is a recent recipient of an Australian Research Council grant with Professor Patrick Parkinson of Sydney University for a project which examines how state and federal governments can better protect and support the values, beliefs and cultural practices of different cultural and religious groups, especially in matters concerning family life, community identity and freedom of conscience, within a framework of respect for human rights. His publications include The Constitution of a Federal Commonwealth: The Making and Meaning of the Australian Constitution (Cambridge, 2009), Shari’a in the West (Oxford, 2010) (edited with Rex Ahdar), and The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia: History, Principle and Interpretation (forthcoming, Cambridge, 2015 (with Peter Gerangelos, James Stellios and Sarah Murray).

Joel Harrison (Ph.D), Lecturer in Law, Macquarie University

Joel Harrison (Ph.D), Lecturer in LawJoel Harrison is a Lecturer in Law at Macquarie University. His academic work focuses on law and religion, human rights, and constitutional law. He graduated from the University of Auckland and was later admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2007. In 2008 he worked as a Legal and Policy Advisor at the New Zealand Law Commission, focusing on sentencing reform. He was then awarded a Woolf Fisher scholarship (NZ) to read for a doctorate in law at the University of Oxford, Magdalen College. While at Oxford, Joel was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Public Law and he taught Constitutional Law at Lady Margaret Hall and Harris Manchester College. From 2012 till 2014, he was an Associate-in-Law (Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Researcher) at Columbia Law School. Joel has published several papers on religious liberty and rights, and the contest between religious vilification laws and freedom of expression.

Professor Sarah Derrington, Head of School and Dean of Law, The University of Queensland

Professor Sarah Derrington, Head of School and Dean of Law

Professor Derrington is the Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law at The University of Queensland. A leader in the field of international arbitration and maritime law in Australia and overseas, her work examines multijurisdictional approaches to the application of international principles of maritime law and their impact on domestic admiralty regimes. Her particular expertise has been recognised, domestically, by her appointment to the Admiralty Rules Committee and, internationally, by appointments to International Working Groups of the Comité Maritime International, by instructions to participate in an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the United States and through her invitation to become a Door Tenant of Quadrant Chambers in London. Professor Derrington was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2009, and in 2013 was elected as a Fellow of the Nautical Institute. She continues to practice at the private Bar, exclusively in shipping law.

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