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Public Law and Government

Key subject details

Subject Public Law and Government
Description This subject examines the legislative, constitutional and government framework that is the basis of our system of government. It attempts to address state issues but is primarily focused on the federal level of government. It includes an overview of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
Year of delivery 2024
Award Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance and Risk Management
Chartered Governance Institute Qualifying Program Chartered Secretary and Chartered Governance Professional
Core/Elective Core
Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level 8
Subject credit points 10
Total course credit points 40 (Graduate Certificate)
60 (Graduate Diploma)
Pre-requisites None
Assumed knowledge None
Mode of study Online
Part-time/Full-time Part-time over one semester
Teaching weeks 12
Student workload 164 hours comprising:

  • two (2) time-tabled hours per taught week
  • ten (10) personal study hours per taught week
  • twenty (20) personal study hours for exam preparation
Assessment task (Weighting) Presentation (20%)
Assignment (30%)
Examination (50%)
Key contacts Further information to assist you in your studies at Governance Institute can be requested from:

Subject aims

For a thorough understanding of how the application of administrative law affects an organisation it is necessary to have knowledge of the:

  • overall legislative, constitutional and government framework
  • relevant delegations and authorisations conferred to the organisation’s executives through law.

The aim of this subject is therefore to assist you in understanding the system and processes involved in the application of administrative law in Australia.

Subject 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 is divided into 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 in a Westminster system
  • Sourcing case law

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
  • Structure of the Corporations Act
  • Applying the Corporations Act to the public sector
  • Registration and governance under the Corporations Act
  • Directors’ duties
  • The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • Directors’ and officers’ duties in the public sector

Module 5 — Public-private partnerships and government contracts

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

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)
  • National Cabinet
  • Intergovernmental Agreement on Mutual Recognition

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
  • Grounds 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
  • Securing the financial independence for integrity agencies and inquiry process
  • 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

Module 12 — Review and examination preparation

  • Preview
  • Case study
  • Exam preparation and technique

Prescribed texts