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Australia's Constitution after Whitlam

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law

  • Author: Brendan Lim, New South Wales Bar; University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108133654

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About the Authors
  • Australia's constitutional crisis of 1975 was not simply about the precise powers of the Senate or the Governor-General. It was about competing accounts of how to legitimate informal constitutional change. For Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, and the parliamentary tradition that he invoked, national elections sufficiently legitimated even the most constitutionally transformative of his goals. For his opponents, and a more complex tradition of popular sovereignty, more decisive evidence was required of the consent of the people themselves. This book traces the emergence of this fundamental constitutional debate and chronicles its subsequent iterations in sometimes surprising institutional configurations: the politics of judicial appointment in the Murphy Affair; the evolution of judicial review in the Mason Court; and the difficulties Australian republicanism faced in the Howard Referendum. Though the patterns of institutional engagement have varied, the persistent question of how to legitimate informal constitutional change continues to shape Australia's constitution after Whitlam.

    • Proposes a new understanding of the 1975 constitutional crisis in Australia and its ongoing effects, based on competing accounts of informal constitutional change
    • Draws on theoretical insights from both American and British constitutional models
    • Explains key developments in Australian constitutional law and theory with sensitivity to social and political context
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108133654
    • contains: 3 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Part 1. Introduction: I. New questions
    II. The plan
    Part 2. Informal Constitutional Change: I. The possibility of informal change
    II. The identification of informal change
    III. The legitimacy of informal change
    Part 3. The Whitlam Dismissal: I. The standard narrative
    II. The dismissal and the constitutional canon
    III. The higher law narrative
    IV. Conclusion
    Part 4. The Murphy Affair: I. Events of 1975–86
    II. Murphy and the standard narrative
    III. Murphy and the higher law narrative
    IV. Conclusion
    Part 5. The Mason Court: I. Internal point of view
    II. Dixon's orthodoxy
    III. Popular sovereignty foreshadowed:
    IV. Popular sovereignty ascendant:
    V. Parliamentary supremacy returns:
    VI. Conclusion
    Part 6. The Howard Referendum: I. Constitutional law and identity
    II. Whitlam and Republicanism
    III. Republicanism reinvented
    IV. Clash of grammars
    V. Conclusion
    Part 7. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Brendan Lim, New South Wales Bar; University of New South Wales, Sydney
    Brendan Lim is a barrister at the New South Wales Bar, practising principally in public and commercial law, and a fellow at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney. He was previously Counsel Assisting the Commonwealth Solicitor-General and a Judge's Associate at the High Court and the Federal Court of Australia.

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