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Deliberation at the Founding: Deliberative Democracy as an Original Constitutional Value

Author(s): Ron Levy

This article examines whether Australia’s constitutional founders intended that a deliberative form of democratic government should govern federally in Australia. Deliberative democratic ideals have long occupied a prominent place in democratic theory. However, they have seldom been brought to bear in a sustained way on historical questions about Australia’s constitutional design. For constitutional scholars, democratic deliberation is now generally a forgotten element of the Australian constitutional system. We show here how the framers concerned themselves with democratic deliberation, including how precisely they envisaged deliberative democratic practices during the federation Conventions and within the new federation. Our focus is on the framers’ understandings of deliberation within the institution of Parliament, and the subsidiary issues bearing on that question such as the relationship between Parliament and the executive and the role of political parties. Our research suggests that deliberative democracy should assume a prominent place alongside more widely acknowledged original constitutional values.

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Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

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