ANU Law scholar’s book provides first constitutional analysis of public finance law and practice in UK and Commonwealth jurisdictions

Will Bateman - book
Dr Will Bateman’s new book: Public Finance and Parliamentary Constitutionalism.

Dr Will Bateman, a senior lecturer and expert on law, finance and technology at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, has authored a new book that explores critically important legal and constitutional aspects of sovereign borrowing, central banking and public expenditure.

Published by Cambridge University Press, Public Finance and Parliamentary Constitutionalism provides the first sustained analysis of constitutionalism and public finance in the English-speaking world through historical and contemporary case studies which expose the relationship between economic crises and the democratic legitimacy of macroeconomic policy.

This timely publication impacts on “vital current debates about the accountability of treasuries and central banks to parliaments, a critical topic during the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Dr Bateman, adding that it shows how government behaviour drifts away from parliamentary and legal accountability during economic and financial crises.

Its close analysis of the financial relationships between central banks and national treasuries is particularly important given the wide-spread adoption of quantitative easing by central banks to fight the economic crises caused by the pandemic. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, Dr Bateman presented to staff at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of England on legal and constitutional aspects of unconventional monetary policy, a topic which arose directly from his book.

The inspiration to highlight sovereign finance, central banking, and the role of parliaments and judiciaries in setting economic policy began with Dr Bateman’s doctoral research at the University of Cambridge, his role as Associate to The Hon Justice Stephen Gageler AC (BEc ’80, LLB (Hons) ’82, HonLLD ’15) of the High Court of Australia and his time as a litigation/banking lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills.

This book is not where it ends for Dr Bateman’s projects; rather, it is the starting point for several other projects he is working on with international colleagues.

“I am a co-investigator on the project ‘Re-Building Macroeconomics: Legal and Economic Conceptions of Money’ that explores the past, present and future of money from legal and economic perspectives, and my work on central banking in the book continues to provide critical inputs to that project.’

“I am also a co-investigator on a project that researches the constitutional structure of monetary authority under the Bretton Woods system, a topic which builds on my book’s work on the Bank of England.”


Public Finance and Parliamentary Constitutionalism deals directly with topics from a course that Dr Bateman convenes at the ANU College of Law: Commonwealth Constitutional Law (LAWS2202).

Dr Will Bateman

Senior Lecturer

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team