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Around the Traps: what retired Members have been up to: STEPHEN TSUNG

WHEN I retired in 2010 I had a plan and it was an ambitious one.

I am one of those people who likes to be working and doing something as long as I am able – Being idle is just not me – So to me retirement is but a change of career.

Like many others in this country I am a migrant who arrived in the 1960s.

Australia has been wonderful to me, I am proud to be an Australian with its “fair go” ethics, and this country has given me two University educations, a lifestyle and continuing careers.

Before my retirement, by coincidence, I was approached to participate in a Menzies Institute research project on Alzheimer’s Disease that studies the effect of continued use of the brain.

In return for participating I would be awarded a University scholarship and have to agree to study and do other exercise of my brain for the foreseeable future.

I applied for the scholarship and admittance to University of Tasmania to do Law, and as I already hold a degree in Economics from University of Sydney I was admitted into a straight law fast track degree.

I started in 2010, graduated with an LLB in 2012, and after doing legal practice was admitted as a lawyer by the Tasmanian Supreme Court in August 2013.


Why law, and why at this stage of one’s life?

Unlike Lindsay Jones, whose passion was featured in the last Retired Members News, I have no great desire for overseas travels having done quite a bit of it during my overseas posting as a Bank manager with ANZ Bank.

But throughout my life I always had a latent desire to be a Good Samaritan, an urge to assist the needy – Compassion for the human race will cure more sins than condemnation.


The Tampa incident in 2001 had a profound impact on my thinking and political belief.

How can a wonderful and compassionate country like Australia do such a thing and be allowed to do it and have it found to be lawful?

I always knew Australia had an underbelly in its immigration policy.

Just look at the SBS documentary, Go Back to Where You Come From.

Xenophobia is understandable with Australia being an under-populated island continent surrounded by over-populated non-Caucasian neighbours.

But I could not understand how a stateless asylum seeker like Mr Al Kateb could be kept in lawful detention for the rest of his life without trial.

This give me a good reason to do law.

A group of lawyers including myself are forming a not-for-profit charity association Refugee Legal Service (Tas) Inc. to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers and disadvantaged humanitarian entrants who are in Tasmania.

There are similar organisations on the mainland but there are no such services in Tasmania.

In March 2013 I assisted in an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court representing a disadvantaged asylum seeker against an adverse decision made by the Immigration Department.

I have made Migration Law my area of specialty as I am passionate about human rights and social justice.

It’s a complex area as it involves an interaction of International Law and Conventions with domestic Law and regulations.


There was bi-partisan agreement between parties during the Fraser/ Hawke era on the acceptance of asylum seekers from Vietnam and China but there is no such acceptance now, and it appears public sentiment has also changed.

As a result there are numerous litigations on Migration Law, and I am determined to do whatever I can to assist genuine asylum seekers.


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