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VOLUME 46(1)

Sir Robert Garran: Medio Tutissimus Ibis


Sir Robert Randolph Garran (10 February 1867–11 January 1957) played a unique role in the early development of the Commonwealth. As Secretary to the Drafting Committee of the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897 and 1898, he was intimately involved in the process by which the Australian Constitution was produced. As Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department from 1901 to 1932, he was responsible for drafting foundational Commonwealth legislation and he played a key part in establishing coherent interpretations of the Constitution in advice to successive Federal Governments. Three aspects of Garran’s life and work are explored in this article: the popular movement which established the process by which the Constitution was negotiated, drafted, and submitted to referenda for approval; Garran’s tenure and legacy as Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department; and Garran’s views on federalism and constitutional law.

Unfair Dismissal Law and Temporary Migrant Labour in Australia


Increasing attention is being given to the exploitation of temporary migrant workers in Australia, in particular in relation to wage underpayments. But very little focus has been given to the ability of temporary migrant workers to access legal remedies under Australian employment law. This article examines whether temporary migrant workers are able to make and pursue a claim for unfair dismissal within the federal jurisdiction. As unfair dismissal law seeks to protect job security and provides an essential check on managerial prerogative, it is important that temporary migrant workers are able to access this legal avenue to protect them from arbitrary dismissal. We argue there are serious deficiencies in the application, coverage and content of federal unfair dismissal law in relation to temporary migrant workers in Australia.

Reasoning with the Foundation of Rules


In PGA v The Queen, the High Court found that a legal rule ceased to exist well before many people thought it did. In Mabo v Queensland [No 2], the Court found that a legal rule came into existence well before many people thought it did. These conclusions are obviously different, and so are the reasons that led to them. But in both decisions the Court relied on the foundation of a legal rule to account for the rule’s validity over time. In PGA, the rule was founded on another legal rule. In Mabo, the rule was founded on an historical fact. I explain how the Court reasoned with these foundations, and what this reasoning suggests about the nature of the common law in Australia.

'The Research Says ...': Perceptions on the Use of Social Science Research in the Family Law System


This article reports on a study which investigated the perceptions of professionals in the family law system about how social science research is used in that system in Australia. The results shed light on the daily practices of actors in the system regarding their use of social science research and demonstrate the ubiquitous presence of this research in the family law environment. The study involved a series of focus groups with lawyers and social scientists and gathered data about how the participants perceived various professions engaged with social science research. This revealed the actual world of family law practice, undiscoverable from the published cases. The data show how practitioners perceive that family law professionals, including judges, harness the research positively, but also expose a range of concerns, particularly about judges citing social science research in the courtroom. The article concludes with some steps that could be taken to clarify the way in which social science research could be used.

Liberal Assumptions in Section 116 Cases and Implications for Religious Freedom


It is well known that the ‘free exercise’ and ‘establishment’ clauses in Section 116 of the Australian Constitution have been interpreted narrowly by the High Court of Australia. However, there has been limited examination of theoretical assumptions or perspectives which may have consciously or unconsciously informed this interpretation. This article argues the High Court has adopted liberal assumptions about the nature of religion and its relationship to the state in the Section 116 cases. These liberal assumptions are a sharp distinction between ‘private’ religious and ‘public’ non-religious exercise, that religious freedom is subject to state determinations of what is required for neutrality between religions, and religious freedom is subject to state determinations of what is required for social order. The article proceeds to consider the implications of these assumptions for Section 116 cases in terms of a narrowing of religious freedom and a broadening of state power, and suggests awareness of these issues may produce a more nuanced approach to Section 116 in the future.

The Survival of Reasonableness Review: Confirming the Boundaries


Predictions have been made about the inevitable demise of judicial review of executive action on the grounds of ‘reasonableness’ for some time. This is especially heightened as and when other substantive grounds of judicial review—for example, proportionality and review for material error of fact—emerge and gain traction. It is argued that these newer grounds are much better suited to the task of reviewing the substance of executive decision-making and they, therefore, reduce the appetite for reasonableness review. This paper considers attempts to retain such review in England, Australia and Canada, notwithstanding the flourishing of other substantive grounds of review. It evauates the reasons, particular to each jurisdiction, for retaining reasonableness review. In the English context, it could be a useful tool to slow down advances in the scope of review. In the Australian context, it could be a suitable vehicle for the incremental expansion of substantive review relative to proportionality, in a way that is not too disruptive of the relatively conservative approach to judicial review on questions of substance. In the Canadian context, it is the only counterpoint available to correctness as a standard of review in the area of substantive review. It could be argued that the retention of a standard of review—like reasonableness—that has a tendency towards deference is misplaced in an era where there appears to be a growing interest in strengthening a culture of justification in the executive through stronger judicial review. Here the aims of the paper are modest. It is not being suggested that reasonableness review should be the sole or primary ground for substantive review. Instead, the paper argues that there is some merit in retaining a tool that is more readily capable of a deferential application (relative to proportionality or correctness as standards of review). The merit of reasonableness review lies in its cautious approach rather than its potential to grow into a strong or sufficient tool of review and, indeed, it is not necessary for it to do so in today’s substantive review landscape.

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