Author(s): Ron Levy
If referendums are not carefully designed and conducted so as to promote moderation, they may undermine deliberation and hence undermine one of the necessary or principal conditions of their own success. Naturally, there is no suggestion here chat referendums can solve all the ills that deeply divided societies face or that democracy can be reduced to referendums. Yet, if skilfully and sensitively designed, they can play a crucial role, so long, that is, as ordinary people are made to feel that their views count for something in the process.
Author(s): Will Bateman
Public Finance and Parliamentary Constitutionalism analyses constitutionalism and public finance (tax, expenditure, audit, sovereign borrowing and monetary finance) in Anglophone parliamentary systems of government. The book surveys the history of public finance law in the UK, its export throughout the British Empire, and its entrenchment in Commonwealth constitutions. It explains how modern constitutionalism was shaped by the financial impact of warfare, welfare-state programs and the growth of central banking. It then provides a case study analysis of the impact of economic condition on governments' financial behaviour, focusing on the UK's and Australia's responses to the financial crisis, and the judiciary's position vis-à-vis the state's financial powers. Throughout, it questions orthodox accounts of financial constitutionalism (particularly the views of A. V. Dicey) and the democratic legitimacy of public finance. Currently ignored aspects of government behaviour are analysed in-depth, particularly the constitutional role of central banks and sovereign debt markets.
> Provides the first constitutional analysis of public finance law and practice in UK and Commonwealth jurisdictions
> Provides an historical treatment of legal and constitutional dimensions of public finance in British and Commonwealth jurisdictions
> Accessibly explains how government, law and economic conditions interact before, during and after moments of economic crisis, using the UK and Australia as examples
Author(s): Leighton McDonald
Jurisdictional error is pivotal but not, in any substantive sense, ‘central’. It is pivotal because it marks important boundaries (drawn by reference to other ideas) in the law of judicial review of executive action. This pivotal but not central role has enabled jurisdictional error to function as a ‘conceptual totem’, emblematic of a determinedly ‘statutory approach’ to the articulation and elaboration of administrative law norms. After elaborating these claims, the article goes on to doubt the constitutional case for the retention of the statutory approach that, in recent years, has come to characterise the Australian approach to jurisdictional error. Recognition of the totemic function of jurisdictional error, it is concluded, is a helpful first step in better understanding and analysing administrative law norms which bear no obvious relation to statute.
Author(s): Will Bateman
Automating the exercise of statutory powers through algorithmic decision-making carries high levels of legal risk. Fundamental public law doctrines assume that legal powers will be exercised by a particular kind of decision-making agent: one with sufficient cognitive capacities to understand the interpretative complexity of legal instruments and respond to highly dynamic environments. Public law doctrines also assume that clear reasons can be given for the exercise of public power and, by default, attribute legal responsibility for the exercise of statutory powers to a human being bearing political and social responsibility. Those doctrines provide the standards against which the legality of algorithmic decision-making in the public sector must be tested and, until they are met, lawyers should be sceptical of suggestions that statutory powers can be automated.
Martyrdom, Antinomianism, and the Prioritising of Christians - Towards a Political Theology of Refugee Resettlement
Author(s): Matthew Zagor
This article considers the approaches taken in the United States (US) and Australia to prioritising the resettlement of Christians from Syria and Iraq. Focusing ﬁrst upon respective models and the immediate political factors that lead to their adoption, it analyses in depth the speciﬁc role played by the evangelical constituency in the US, and their theologically-infused concern for the “persecuted church” in “enslaved” lands. Recognising this movement enjoys less inﬂuence in Australia, the article considers the ways in which Australia’s resettlement policies and political narratives have nonetheless increasingly participated in tropes familiar to classical antinomian political theology, not least that resettlement is tied to a redemptive generosity of the State that works to denigrate and undermine the legal obligations demanded by those who arrive irregularly by boat. The article also critiques the use of “vulnerability” as a touchstone principle for the fair allocation of scarce resettlement places, and its propensity to be used for cherry-picking purposes. Finally, as part of the argument that resettlement is susceptible to being used as a vehicle for those motivated by more explicit theological concerns, the article explores the leveraging for political, redemptive, and eschatological purposes of images and narratives of the “martyred” middle-eastern Christian.
Author(s): Ron Levy
Deliberative democratic theory emphasises the importance of informed and reflective discussion and persuasion in political decision-making. The theory has important implications for constitutionalism - and vice versa - as constitutional laws increasingly shape and constrain political decisions. The full range of these implications has not been explored in the political and constitutional literatures to date. This unique Handbook establishes the parameters of the field of deliberative constitutionalism, which bridges deliberative democracy with constitutional theory and practice. Drawing on contributions from world-leading authors, this volume serves as the international reference point on deliberation as a foundational value in constitutional law, and is an indispensable resource for scholars, students and practitioners interested in the vital and complex links between democratic deliberation and constitutionalism.
Author(s): Amelia Simpson
The Australian Constitution invokes the ideas of equal treatment and discrimination in a number of places, as a direct textual feature of some provisions and also at times as an element of implications drawn from constitutional text and structure. This chapter will explore these instances through a functionalist lens and assess whether, and when, the High Court has produced doctrine that is broadly consistent with the dictates of a functionalist interpretative approach.
Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory
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.
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): 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.
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): 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.
Editor(s): Ron Levy, Hoi Kong, McGill University, Montréal, Graeme Orr, University of Queensland, Jeff King, University College London
Deliberative democratic theory emphasises the importance of informed and reflective discussion and persuasion in political decision-making. The theory has important implications for constitutionalism - and vice versa - as constitutional laws increasingly shape and constrain political decisions. The full range of these implications has not been explored in the political and constitutional literatures to date. This unique Handbook establishes the parameters of the field of deliberative constitutionalism, which bridges deliberative democracy with constitutional theory and practice. Drawing on contributions from world-leading authors, this volume will serve as the international reference point on deliberation as a foundational value in constitutional law, and will be an indispensable resource for scholars, students and practitioners interested in the vital and complex links between democratic deliberation and constitutionalism.
Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory
Author(s): Kim Rubenstein
Who governs and how they govern is central to the questions of power, control and citizenship that are at the core of a democratic society. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the outcome of the 12 First Nations Regional Dialogues culminating in the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017. There the First Peoples from across the country formed a consensus position on the form constitutional recognition should take. This article argues that the Uluru Statement from the Heart affirms a commitment to ‘active citizenship’ that draws from a belief in the equal power of the governors and the governed. This understanding of the Uluru Statement from the Heart enables it to be promoted as a document for all Australians, both in the spirit of reconciliation and in its affirmation of a commitment to an equality underpinning Australian citizenship in the 21st century. By examining how citizenship in Australia has evolved as a legal concept and by reflecting on how law is a fundamental tool for providing a ‘meaningful limitation of the lawgiver’s power in favour of the agency of the legal subject’, this article examines the Uluru Statement from the Heart as a commitment to the importance of recognising the nature of the proper relationship between the law giver and those subject to the law — the citizenry. To exercise power within a democratic framework, as opposed to brute force or sheer will over the subject, involves recognising the agency of the citizenry. This idea not only enables reconciliation to be a meaningful and restorative act but one that recalibrates the exercise of power in Australia to benefit all Australians by affirming a commitment to all Australians equal citizenship as active agents.
The Federal Court of Australia performs a fundamentally important role within Australia’s democratic system. It has served as a site for the disputation, negotiation and resolution of issues fundamentally important to Australian society. It does so in the context of a constitutional system affirming the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law, as a means of preserving and enforcing the rights of individuals and navigating the boundaries of the powers of the state. In that context, its records, gathered both through the internal workings of the court and through the cases that come before it, contain a narrative shaping our contemporary understanding of the rights of the individual and the role of the state. Despite the importance of its records in that narrative, the preservation and access to the Federal Court’s records continues to be seen through the lens of traditional understandings of the management of litigation. This paper explores the Federal Court’s role within the broader context of constructing our understanding of the roles and responsibilities of citizenship and illustrates the importance of the Court’s records as an archival resource. In doing so, it highlights the parallels and inconsistencies between traditional archival institutions and the Court in relation to selection, preservation and access to records.
Research theme: Administrative Law, Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education, Legal History and Ethnology, Migration and Movement of Peoples, The Legal Profession
Author(s): Associate Professor Ryan Goss
ABSTRACT: In five of Australia’s six States, legislation governing the franchise at local government elections allows for voting rights based partly on property ownership or occupation, for votes for corporations, and for various forms of plural voting. There is no existing comprehensive nationwide catalogue and analysis of the legislation that underpins this phenomenon. This article fills the gap in the literature by providing that analysis. Part I provides a concise overview of the historical context in Britain and in Australia. Part II is the central contribution of the article, describing and analyzing the legislation across the six Australian States. Part II demonstrates the idiosyncratic complexity of local government franchises within and across the States. While this article’s primary goal is to critique the legislation as it stands, Part III concisely makes the case for reform of voting rights at local government elections, suggesting that the status quo raises concerns about democratic inequality.
Author(s): Ron Levy
In some ways populism provides a starkly poor fit to federal decision making – including decision making about a federation itself. As I describe in this chapter, contemporary populism is at once impatient for, and prone to derailing, federal reform. However, after diagnosing problems, I turn to consider institutional routes around them. The best solutions – those perhaps most able to restart stalled progress toward reform – may be those aiming to harness and redirect, rather than deny, populism’s rising tide. In this regard, deliberative democratic approaches to reform appear to hold particular promise.
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.