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Julian Burnside on Australia's asylum seeker response

  • Date recorded: 29 Apr 2014

  • Duration: 43:42

'How do we get away with it? How do we justify to ourselves, this sort of wilful mistreatment of innocent people.'

- Julian Burnside

About this video

Leading barrister and international human-rights advocate Julian Burnside AO, QC interrogates Australia's response to asylum seekers.

Here, Julian Burnside argues that Australia’s response to the arrival of a small number of asylum seekers has been hostile. He believes that Australians have placed themelves on a war footing to repel frightened, defenceless people, and asks what are we running from, and to, and why?

This event took place as part of the Big ideas under the dome lecture series, celebrating the Library’s iconic domed La Trobe Reading Room and its role in inspiring creativity and ideas.


Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and author.

Julian practises principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law.

He is known for his staunch opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, and has provided legal counsel in a wide variety of high-profile cases.

Julian was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2009, 'for service as a human rights advocate, particularly for refugees and asylum seekers, to the arts as a patron and fundraiser, and to the law'.