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Each episode, Partners Timothy Stutt and Melanie Debenham are joined by an expert third wheel guest to explore the issues from their unique perspectives.

Mel is an expert on business-critical environment, planning, heritage and native title regulation in Australia. Tim specialises in ESG from a corporate governance perspective, including market disclosure, risk management and shareholder engagement/activism.

We wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands Mel and Tim are recording from, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation in Perth and the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation in Sydney. We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this country.

Latest episode

Episode 35 – A COP of action?

Lewis McDonaldCarolyn Pugsley and Tim Stutt set the scene ahead of COP28 in Dubai with a stocktake of past COPs and sign-posts to the way forward, including new "regulatory technology" and continued investment to support innovation across the energy transition. They also discuss the ‘trilemma’ of energy security, affordability and sustainability.

Check out the biodiversity questionnaire. For more COP28 insights, visit our hub.


Episode 34 – Global Bank Review – Balancing Acts

Jacqueline Wootton, Hannah Cassidy and Antony Crockett take the wheel to explore trust in banking, as the sector faces a number of stress tests, including carving out credible positions on social and climate issues, creating new carbon offset markets which operate with integrity and transparency and other challenges explored in HSF’s latest edition of the annual Global Bank Review. They discuss how embracing calls for greater diligence, disclosure, reporting and transparency around ESG issues across the wider business sector might just help banks to balance the competing demands - meeting shareholder expectations and leading on social imperatives. 

For more, check out our Global Bank Review


Episode 33 – Sustainable Finance 2023 – Australia’s time to lead

Lucy McCullagh, Alice Molan and Anna Coroneo take the wheel to debrief their key takeaways from the Australian Sustainable Finance Summit 2023, including Australia’s progress toward a financial system aligned with sustainability commitments, the creation of an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy, the development of disclosure and reporting standards and the importance of transition financing. They discuss recent innovations such as taking longer term approaches to natural capital and the environment, ongoing partnerships with First Nations communities for better outcomes and the provision of “Blended Finance” to bridge the execution gap between intent and bankable opportunities.


Episode 32 – A First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution

Melanie Debenham is joined by Gemma McKinnon and Bianca Janovic from our Pro Bono and Responsible Business teams to take us through the Regional Dialogue process that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and how it relates to the Voice referendum proposal. They discuss the proposed constitutional amendment and principles of the Voice to Parliament. They address some of the more “lawyerly” considerations and practicalities of implementing a Voice to Parliament – as well as its accountability to the community and recognition of 65,000 years of continued care for country by First Nations people.

We recognise that voters must make their own decision at the ballot box and hope to assist people to make their own informed decision.

For more information, we provide some further resources:


Episode 31 – Climate Governance Forum 2023 – a call to action

Melanie Debenham and Timothy Stutt wrap up their reflections on this year’s Climate Governance Forum, hosted by the AICD and the Climate Governance Initiative Australia. Kicking off with a keynote from Mike Cannon-Brookes and followed by sessions on mandatory reporting, transition planning, greenwashing risks and an address by Senator Jenny McAllister (Assistant Minister for Climate Change), the day was rounded out with discussions on understanding stakeholder expectations and the role for boards in addressing biodiversity and nature. Speakers underlined not only the urgency of the issues but in seizing the opportunities in making climate action core business strategy.

For more, read our latest legal briefing on Australia’s proposed mandatory climate reporting regime and short podcast series Reporting for Duties.


Episode 30– Is the Australian Modern Slavery Act moving into a new phase?

Tim Stutt and Aoife Xuereb are joined by Jacqueline Wootton and Olga Klimczak for a Talking Shop X The Third Wheel podcast collaboration episode. Following the statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act and its report being tabled in parliament, the Government is yet to confirm its position in relation to the reform recommendations, many of which seek to align with overseas regulatory trends for enhanced human rights due diligence, supply chain transparency and penalties to support corporate accountability. Our team discuss the importance of monitoring developments, applying a continuous improvement approach to supply chain risk identification and management (which can be particularly complex in the consumer sector) and working to ensure your business has in place robust payroll compliance governance processes. For more, read our recent legal briefing on the Modern Slavery Act review or visit our Business and Human Rights hub.


Episode 29 – It’s an onion! Australia’s carbon market

Kathryn Pacey, environment and planning partner is joined by Isabella Kelly, ESG senior associate and Jaya Prasad, solicitor in our energy and resources team to discuss the role of carbon and biodiversity offsets in meeting net zero and nature positive goals. They peel back the layers of government targets and regulatory reforms including the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Safeguard Mechanism, Australian Carbon Credit Units - and the new Nature Repair Bill. Amidst the increasing use of carbon credits to offset emissions in reaching climate targets, yet more layers are revealed including greenwashing, activist attention and disclosure considerations under the upcoming mandatory climate reporting regime and ISSB standards. Further complexities arise from multi-stakeholder carbon abatement projects, contracting arrangements and financial services requirements.


Episode 28 – Black letter law goes blurry

In this episode, Tim Stutt speaks with partner Bryony Adams and senior associate Stephanie Crosbie for a discussion about financial crime and the governance and reputational risk exposures from regulatory non-compliance. The heat is on for boards, with the scale and penalties for money laundering being one of the fastest growing ESG areas. Our team unpack regulator expectations and what this means for directors in terms of getting across the risks, implementing a compliant and risk-based Anti-Money Laundering program and associated training, and importantly – setting a risk culture or “tone from the top”.


Episode 27 – Bankability versus Sustainability

Finance partners Andrew McLean, Jon Evans and Elizabeth Charlesworth take the wheel this episode to discuss the evolution of green and sustainability linked loans, from federal government funders and other agencies to increasing interest from commercial banks, institutional investors and private capital. They discuss the key issues across mining, energy and infrastructure sectors, along with recent regulatory and industry developments addressing greenwashing and social targets (or “pinkwashing”).


Episode 26 – International Women’s Day with Stella

In celebration of International Women’s Day, partners Nerida Jessup and Natalie Gaspar from our employment, IR and safety practice speak with Jaclyn Booton, Executive Director of the Stella Prize, a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing. They reflect on 10 years of Stella and its significant influence on a more vibrant and equitable literary culture. An approach of “You lead, we’ll support” has been key to this success and will resonate with organisations seeking better diversity and inclusion outcomes. Visit - your book club will thank you!

Previous episodes


Special: Unlocking ESG Investment in Australia Report

EP22: Unlocking ESG Investment in Australia EP23: Keeping the focus on “S”

EP24: Start at the source EP25: Risk and return under every rock



EP11: #BreakTheBias with Rebecca Maslen-Stannage and Andrew Pike EP12: Authenticity with James Palmer

EP13: Australian Federal Election with Graham Phelan, Frontier Economics EP14: Fix the workplace, not the worker with David Burroughs, Westpac

EP15: Climate change and ESG litigation trends in the consumer sector with Jojo Fan and Mark Smyth EP16: Uluru Statement from the Heart (Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!) – NAIDOC Week 2022 with Gemma McKinnon and Kishaya Delaney

EP17: Australian federal election results with Kathryn Pacey EP18: The need for speed (and pragmatic pathways) with Dr Chris Greig, Princeton University

EP19: Recycle, Recovery and Reduce with Neometals EP20: Board accountability and reporting on workplace misconduct with Nerida Jessup, Anna Creegan and Lucy Boyd

EP21: The role of challenge, discomfort and humility in positive workplace cultures with Professor Brock Bastian  




EP1: Inaugural episode with ESG insights from Herbert Smith Freehills CEO Justin D’Agostino EP2: Mandatory ESG due diligence developments in the EU with Antony Crockett

EP3: Innovation in Modern Slavery with Human Rights Resources and Energy Collaborative’s Shaeron Yapp and Gemma Wilford EP4: Climate change litigation with Mark Smyth

EP5: The future is now! Renewable energy in Australia with Dr Cameron Kelly, Australian Renewable Energy Agency EP6: Asking the right questions with Brooke Massender, Global Head of Pro Bono for Herbert Smith Freehills

EP7: It’s not about the money, money, money with Lewis McDonald, Global Head of Energy for Herbert Smith Freehills EP8: Enough is enough with Olga Klimczak, Executive Counsel, Employment, IR and Safety for Herbert Smith Freehills

EP9: Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) with Charlee-Sue Frail, Former advisor of Wiyi Yani U Thangani and Dusseldorp Forum board member EP10: All eyes on COP27 with Silke Goldberg, HSF’s Global Head of ESG and lead for the firm’s Climate Change practice


Key contacts

Timothy Stutt photo

Timothy Stutt

Partner, Sydney

Timothy Stutt
Melanie Debenham photo

Melanie Debenham

Partner, Perth

Melanie Debenham

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