Public Law and Government

This subject examines the legislative, constitutional and government framework that is the basis of our system of government. This subject attempts to address state issues but is primarily focused on the federal level of government. It includes an overview of the Corporations Act 2001.

 Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the legislative, constitutional and government framework that underpins Australian administrative law
  2. Identify and apply the key principles of administrative law under the Westminster system
  3. Gain a strategic understanding of the application of administrative law
  4. Recognise the scope and limitations of the powers conferred to an organisation and the relevant delegations or authorisations to its executives through the law
  5. Develop the skills to apply administrative law in analysis of public policy and management in the context of governance in Commonwealth, states/territories and local government

Indicative content

The subject comprises the following 12 modules:

Module 1: Legislative framework

  • Constitutional legal and government framework
  • Principles of administrative law
  • Enabling legislation and delegated legislation
  • Key administrative law cases
  • Good governance and good administrative decision-making
  • Attorneys-General and the Westminster parliamentary system
  • Administrative Review Council — Best practice guidelines for administrative decision-making

Module 2: Federalism and state administrative law

  • Commonwealth and state tiers of government
  • Federal-state relations
  • Local government

Module 3: Government entities and enterprises

  • The executive arm of government
  • Types of government entities
  • Governance and accountability
  • Current issues and developments

Module 4: Corporatisation of government

  • Objectives of corporations law
  • Important cases
  • Applying the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to the public sector
  • Registration and governance under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
  • Directors’ duties
  • Changes under the PGPA Act (2013)
  • Directors’ and officers’ duties in the public sector

Module 5: Public-private partnerships

  • The PPP model
  • Ministerial responsibility — Who speaks for the partnership?
  • Liability under Commonwealth laws
  • Evaluation — Long-term implications for government assets and/or control

Module 6: Relationship between public servants and elected officials

  • Law and the public servant’s role
  • Working with Ministers and their advisers
  • Parliamentary hearings
  • Ethics in the public sector

Module 7: Intergovernmental arrangements

  • Subsidiarity — Federalism versus regionalism
  • Referral of powers from the states and territories to the Commonwealth
  • Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
  • Intergovernmental Agreement on Mutual Recognition
  • Examples of Intergovernmental Arrangements

Module 8: Merits review and management of information

  • The ‘integrity arm of government’
  • Non-judicial review remedies
  • The ombudsman
  • Freedom of information
  • Protection of privacy and personal information
  • Parliamentary access to documents
  • Management of public records

Module 9: Judicial review of administrative action

  • The nature of judicial review
  • Avenues of judicial review
  • The process of judicial review
  • Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977
  • Ouster of judicial review
  • Current issues in judicial review

Module 10: Managing misconduct in the public sector

  • The framework of conduct standards for public officials
  • Types of misconduct
  • Handling misconduct
  • Reporting suspected misconduct
  • Performance management

Module 11: Accountability in the public sector

  • Commissions of inquiry
  • Standing commissions
  • Auditors-General and the Westminster parliamentary system
  • The role of the Auditor-General
  • Audits conducted by Auditors-General
  • Commonwealth Auditor-General — 2009 Act
  • Administrative Review Council
  • Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Merits review tribunals and ombudsmen

Module 12: Review and examination preparation

  • Preview
  • Examination preparation and technique

Required texts

None

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