This work in progress paper discusses problems encountered with social security data-matching in relation to employment history and the use of "robodebts" in relation to recovery of social security overpayments in Australia.
Author(s): Margaret Thornton
Despite the increasing inequality between rich and poor, there is resistance towards proscribing discrimination on the basis of socioeconomic status. This resistance is marked in Anglophone countries, namely, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, the US and South Africa, countries that are located in the high inequality/low mobility extreme in terms of socioeconomic status. This article argues that the resistance is associated with the embrace of neoliberalism, a political value system that extols the free market, individualism and profit maximisation. The commitment to competition policy necessarily produces inequality in contradistinction to equality, which informs the philosophical underpinnings of anti-discrimination legislation. Even in the comparatively few jurisdictions where legislation on the basis of social status or a cognate attribute exists, the legislative model is restrictive and the number of complaints minuscule. Most notably, an overview of the Anglophone countries reveals that there is a dearth of complaints involving national and multinational corporations, the primary wealth creators of the neoliberal state that are also major employers. Although employment generally gives rise to the preponderance of discrimination complaints on grounds such as race and sex, it is suggested that the resistance to social status discrimination serves to protect private corporations from scrutiny.
Overcoming the Invisible Hurdles to Justice for Young People the Final Research and Evaluation Report of the Invisible Hurdles Project: Integrated Justice Practice - Towards Better Outcomes for Young People Experiencing Family Violence in North East Victo
Author(s): Elizabeth Curran
The three-year “Invisible Hurdles Project” was trialled in southern NSW and northern Victoria and successfully broke down intractable mistrust of lawyers and provided legal help to people who usually can’t be reached.
The pilot saw lawyers embed themselves into youth, health and other services reaching 101 people with 198 legal matters which may not have come to light otherwise.
Associate Professor Liz Curran, led the research and evaluation of the project with Pamela Taylor-Barnett assisting - both of ANU School of Legal Practice.
The pilot saw the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) provided lawyers free of charge who embedded themselves into three partner organisations: The Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS), a school for vulnerable young people, Wodonga Flexible Learning Centre and North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY).
The report makes many findings and recommendations including The data revealed that non-legal staff responding to clients were also initially distrustful of the lawyers, but now find them a responsive ally which has boosted their capacity to respond effectively. It’s had the knock-on effect of reducing stress and anxiety in themselves and their clients. It can inform other models, policy and funding frameworks as well as future service delivery in multi-disciplinary practices including, health justice partnerships.
Australian Renewable Energy Law: Carbon Lock-In or Clean Energy Transition? The Pursuit of Policy Stability and Energy Security at Higher Levels of Renewable Generation
Author(s): James Prest
This article critically analyses recent developments in Australia’s renewable energy law and policy. It identifies seven retrograde steps taken in energy and climate law in Australia in the last five years. Barriers to clean energy law - in the form of recurring narratives employed against the rise of renewable energy across Australia - are examined. Increased levels of renewable energy are portrayed by opponents as a threat to the security and reliability of electricity supply. Yet, the nation is currently experiencing a major renewable energy investment boom, supported by regional policy initiatives that are driving innovation, most recently in energy storage.
Author(s): Phillip Drew
This paper examines the issue of maritime crime in the context of West Africa. Acknowledging that maritime crime is a growing threat to commercial shipping in the region, and to the economic health of West African countries, Dr. Drew assess the various factors that have thus far permitted maritime criminals in the region to operate with relative impunity. Recognising that a number of countries and international organisations have engaged in capacity building with the states of the GoG, Drew notes that lasting solutions to maritime crime require a broad approach that provides resources not only for the region’s military and law enforcement challenges, but also the underlying social problems that affect much of the continent.
Author(s): Moeen Cheema
Pakistan’s superior courts have evolved from marginal state institutions to key players mediating the balance of powers in a deeply divided and politically fragmented polity during seven decades of the country’s postcolonial history. Although the political salience of the Supreme Court’s recent actions — including the disqualification of two elected prime ministers — has created the sense of a sudden and ahistorical judicialization of politics, the courts’ prominent role in adjudicating issues of governance and statecraft was long in the making. The perception of an historically docile and subservient court which has suddenly become activist has been shaped by an undue focus on the big constitutional moments of regime or governmental change in which the Apex Court has more often than not sided with the military or military-backed presidency. While these constitutional cases and crises are important, an exclusive focus on this domain of judicial action hides the more significant and consistent developments that have taken place in the sphere of “administrative law.” It is through the consistent development of the judicial review of administrative action, even under military rule, that Pakistan’s superior courts progressively carved an expansive institutional role for themselves. This article highlights the progressive, though non-linear, expansion of judicial power in Pakistan and argues that despite some notable and highly contentious moments of judicial interference in mega politics, the bedrock of judicial review has remained in administrative law — i.e., the judicial review of executive action.
Author(s): Moeen Cheema
2017 was the year of the Panama case. That one case overshadowed all the business in the Apex Court and has shaped public perception of the Court’s role. Just as in the previous electoral cycle, the Supreme Court has disqualified and dismissed a prime minister from office in the year leading up to the messy business of elections. Just as during the tenure of former Chief Justice Chaudhry, the Court has ended up in an overt tussle with a government that is determined to present itself as a victim of a “judicial coup.” The disqualification of the head of the largest political party in Pakistan in the run-up to an election has also raised anxieties about of a political court acting in collusion with the country’s powerful military intent on destabilizing the transitional democratic system.
The Panama case marks the Court’s return to the center of the political stage after a brief hiatus, a position it seems likely to occupy in the foreseeable future. The Supreme Court’s political role is not a recent development. Over the last three decades, the Supreme Court has evolved from a peripheral state institution to a key player mediating the balance of powers in a deeply divided and politically fragmented polity. However, the Court’s exercise of its judicial review jurisdiction appears to be “promiscuous” rather than principled. Despite the larger claims, the superior courts appear to have become “institutions of governance” and judicial review the mode of a “delicate and political process of balancing competing values and political aspirations” . . . providing “a workable modus vivendi” which in turn enables the courts to claim a seat at the table of high politics.
Author(s): Phillip Drew
In January 2015, the government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was ousted from power by Houthi rebels based in the northern highlands of Yemen. Initially forced to flee the country, Hadi soon returned, establishing a new government in the southern city of Aden. His return marked the commencement of the latest phase of Yemen’s perpetual civil war.
In what has often been referred to as the ‘Saudi-led blockade’, a coalition naval force, made up primarily of vessels from Gulf Cooperation Council states, has been enforcing a closure of Yemen’s waters and most of its ports. Yemen requires food imports to feed its population, and fuel imports to generate the electricity that it needs to keep its water plants operating. As a result of the naval interdiction operations, the civilian population of Yemen is in crisis. Approximately 20 million people require humanitarian assistance, and the country continues to struggle under the largest cholera epidemic in history.
This paper examines the legal bases for the current interdiction operations, both from the perspective of the law of naval warfare and the law of the sea. Finally it assesses the role that Security Council resolutions have played in the continuation of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the role that the Security Council can play in supporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.
The use of referendums in conflict societies has increased significantly in recent decades. A planned referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, is a current example. Referendums potentially help a conflict society to progress towards a peaceful resolution of its conflict even in the face of entrenched opposition by certain elites. And, because they can enjoy broad social perceptions of democratic legitimacy, referendums may also help to ensure against subsequent breach of any settlement reached. Yet, in practice referendums have not always been beneficial. Little institutional effort has gone toward improving the popular discourse leading up to the final vote. Standard referendum campaigns often merely amplify the voices of contending and entrenched political parties and elites. In a conflict society, where social polarization is pronounced, referendums thus risk aggravating, rather than ameliorating, tensions.
Research in deliberative democracy - with its concern for channeling disagreement into reasoned forms of persuasion - has yielded insights relevant to resolving violent inter-communal conflict. In this article we suggest the use of a specially-designed ‘deliberative referendum’ in Bougainville. Such a referendum may improve the conflicting parties' prospects of reaching common ground. Even a marginal improvement in the referendum’s deliberative quality may help to reconstruct the referendum from a potential destabilizing factor to a more effective peace-building tool. Yet, while we explore how a deliberative referendum might help to impel the Bougainville peace process toward successful resolution, we also consider the referendum’s hazards.
Author(s): Kim Rubenstein
This article considers the relationship between law and gender by sharing information about an oral history project analysing the experience of women lawyers in the public, civic space and women’s experience of lawyering in Australia and of Australian lawyers working in the international context.
Author(s): Greg Weeks
Soft law refers to domestic, non-legislative instruments which are designed to influence, modify or otherwise affect conduct. It relies for this result on the fact that people generally assume that soft law requires them to act and has immediate legal effect. Where this assumption is mistaken, individuals have a limited capacity to obtain remedies where public authorities fail to adhere to the terms of their published soft law. This paper examines reliance on soft law and considers a selection of the diverse forms in which it appears. It considers which remedies are available where an individual suffers loss as a result of relying on soft law and asks whether and how the separation of powers doctrine can be updated to attach legal significance to the proliferation of soft law. Soft law is a topic about which little has been written. Given its importance as a regulatory tool, a fuller analysis of its place within the separation of powers model is both timely and original.
Research theme: Administrative Law
Author(s): Desmond Manderson
The nation is not a natural construction. It is mediated through representations and particularly through representations with a sensory component. Images therefore are primary means through which a collection identity is established. They serve to constitute myths of belonging; to distinguish friend from enemy, as Schmitt put it. They tell stories; they create models and examples that frame our social existence. But they also generate the icons and symbols whose repetition and familiarity - flags, monuments, even colour combinations - etch habits of feeling and mental associations deep into our psyche.
Research theme: Legal Theory
Author(s): Ron Levy
Referendums are now common in ‘conflict societies’ — societies where widespread armed engagement recently occurred, is occurring or is liable to occur. If well designed, a referendum might improve the prospects of achieving a conflict settlement. The referendum’s relative democratic legitimacy may also help to ensure against subsequent breach, once a settlement is reached. However, in practice the utility of referendums for conflict settlement has been inconsistent. Some past referendums faltered (e.g. a ‘no’ vote delayed settlement) as a result of neglect of careful institutional design. In particular, a number of past referendums proceeded as simple majoritarian exercises with little in the way of support for voters’ deliberation about issues at stake. By contrast, a handful of authors have described ‘Deliberative Referendums’ purpose-designed to generate more rational and informed referendum campaigns. Nearly all past work on Deliberative Referendums has focused on peaceful societies. Building on this past work, the present article introduces the term ‘Shotgun Referendum’ to refer to a Deliberative Referendum held under conditions of ongoing or apprehended violence. The article explains why such a referendum might incrementally improve the prospects for conflict settlement. It proposes the use of deliberative design features — some novel, others well known — and places these within a distinctive frame drawing on constitutional and deliberative theory. The article thus serves as a scoping study of the aspirations and boundaries of Shotgun Referendums. This can offer more careful direction when, as seems inevitable, in future more conflict societies hold referendums.
Author(s): Greg Weeks
The idea of introducing a monetary remedy for harm arising out of the misdirected exercise of public power has waxed and waned in popularity in Australia over the years. Though few would dispute the intuitive appeal of the sentiment that ‘wrongs should not go unremedied’, the question of why this is so and how harm arising from maladministration could, or should, be repaired remains unresolved. This article canvasses a number of the potential justifications for the creation of such a remedy, before noting the various avenues the Australian courts have considered, and closed down, which might otherwise have led in that direction. These rejected opportunities have included the expansion of existing tort actions (eg misfeasance in public office and breach of statutory duty), the creation of new causes of action in tort (eg the Beaudesert tort and constitutional torts), and the interpretation of statutory remedial powers (eg the power to ‘do justice between the parties’ pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth)). Whatever the virtue of a remedy on this front, it is clear that it will need to be a matter of legislative, rather than judicial, intervention.
Research theme: Administrative Law
Equal Consideration and Informed Imagining: Recognising and Responding to the Lived Experiences of Abused Women Who Kill
Author(s): Anthony Hopkins
Equality is a fundamental concern of human existence. Expressed in the principle of equality before the law it requires that those who come before the law are entitled to be treated as being of equal value and to be given ‘equal consideration’. In circumstances where those who come before the law are marked by their differences, giving of equal consideration requires that difference be understood and taken into account. The identification of difference does not of itself determine the question of whether different treatment is warranted in the interests of equality. However, this article argues that understanding difference is a precondition for the promotion of true equality and that, in pursuit of understanding difference, it is necessary for us to acknowledge the limitations of our capacity to understand the lived experience of ‘others’ and to actively work to engage with these experiences. In the context of the criminal justice system, we over abused women who kill as illustrative of this need, focusing upon the availability and operation of self-defence in England/Wales, Queensland and Victoria. In doing so, we consider the capacity of the law, legal process and legal actors to engage with the lived experiences of these women, highlighting the im portance of ‘informed imagining’.
Once unseen, women are now visible in increasing proportions on the bench in common law courts, although this reality has generally not percolated into fictional worlds, where ‘the judge’ is invariably male. Fiona, cast by Ian McEwan as the protagonist, in The Children Act, is a notable exception. In the novel, McEwan directs our gaze beyond the traditional separation of judicial identity into public/private (visible/invisible) facets of life and raises questions regarding the impact of life on law, and law on life. This article draws on McEwan’s work to illuminate a study of how judicial swearing-in ceremonies tell the stories of Australian women judges. At first glance, this may seem an unusual pairing: The Children Act is an international best-selling work of fiction whereas the official records of court ceremonial sittings are a somewhat obscure body of work largely overlooked by scholars. However, the speeches made in welcome in open court on these occasions by members of the legal profession and by the new judge in reply, offer glimpses of the attributes of women judges not discernible in formal judgments. These ‘minor jurisprudences’ challenge the familiar gendered stereotypes found in the sovereign body of law.
Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Law, Governance and Development, Legal Education, Legal History and Ethnology, Private Law, The Legal Profession
Author(s): Imogen Saunders
Artificially created islands are a contemporary reality, created and used for military and non-military purposes. Analysis of such islands has largely been limited to their status under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regime. Their position under general international law, however, remains unclear. In particular, the question of whether artificial islands can constitute sovereign territory remains unanswered. This article analyses the concept of territory in international law in the context of artificial islands, arguing that both the doctrine of territory and the strictures of UNCLOS do not prevent artificial islands as constituting territory, capable of sovereign appropriation: albeit territory not generating a territorial sea. Indeed, understanding artificial islands as potentially constituting territory allows for a more comprehensive positioning of such islands in regards to other general international law doctrines including the unlawful acquisition of territory.
Author(s): Jolyon Ford
Australia proposed a Modern Slavery Act based on the UK's 2015 model, requiring larger firms to report annually on steps taken to address the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. This working paper has two main arguments. First, the approach to defining (or not) ‘supply chain’ is not a mere technical drafting issue, but instead can be seen as going to the overall purpose of this regulation and as a metaphor for more general design philosophies or approaches in this sphere. Second, an Australian statute should refrain from any attempt at a statutory definition of ‘supply chains’ or any definition in ancillary regulations; however, authorities should offer reporting entities far more extensive policy guidance than the UK model has done. Aside from the generic drafting difficulty of finding a stable, commercially sensible definition, the paper explains at least three reasons why the statutory scheme should not seek to define ‘supply chains.’
Author(s): James Stellios
The Australian Constitution is unique among constitutional instruments. It was primarily designed to federate self-governing British colonies within the British constitutional tradition and to establish institutions of federal government. As such, the constitutional instrument does not contain an entrenched Bill of Rights. Yet, Australia has been a stable federal democracy since its establishment in 1901 and, by international standards, it is consistently assessed as maintaining high levels of personal freedom, political rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. This article considers the place of rights in the Australian federation against Australian constitutional history and its constitutional context.
Author(s): Sally Wheeler
his article examines contract as a focal point of modern society both in terms of the way that it is used to classify relationships and the way in which it is used to order relationships. I look at how contractual structures and relationships across a variety of speciman scenarios (private sector supply contracts and public service delivery contracts) can be explained using the work of Ian Macneil. He gives us an account of how the socialising contexts of contract relationships evolve and change. Smart contracts offer a new way of constructing relationships. Their advocates suggest that they have the potential to revolutionise the practice of exchange. I consider smart contracts from Macneil’s perspective and work through whether his account of relationality will be able to encompass this new practise.
Research theme: Law and Technology