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Intergovernmental relations permeate every aspect of Australian government. It is not possible to fully understand Australian law without an appreciation of how it is affected by arrangements between the Commonwealth and the states. Corporations law, mining law, environmental law, medical law and a host of other fields are based, in one way or another, on arrangements of this kind. This unique subject deals with the complex and opaque framework of law and practice by which intergovernmental arrangements are structured. It demonstrates that the framework is changing, through new legislation, intergovernmental agreements and constitutional interpretation, and offers students the knowledge and skills to follow and critically assess these developments for themselves. The use of examples from current intergovernmental arrangements makes this an intensely practical subject. The subject design also presents the big picture in a way that encourages the class to reflect on the significance of the phenomenon of intergovernmental co-operation as a whole. While the subject has a primarily Australian focus, international students who are curious about multi-level government may find it of interest for this reason as well. Both members of the teaching team have long experience in the area and bring to the subject a rich mix of theoretical understanding and practical insight, from Australia and elsewhere.
Principal topics will include:
- General constitutional principles
- The intergovernmental relations map
- References of power: Constitution section 51(38)
- Techniques for uniform law
- Grants and agreements
- Intergovernmental institutions
- Executive cooperation
- Cooperation between courts
- The High Court and intergovernmental cooperation
- Administrative law and intergovernmental cooperation
- Fiscal federalism and intergovernmental relations.
Intended learning outcomes
This subject is designed to give students a thorough grasp of the constitutional and legal framework for intergovernmental arrangements in Australia and arrangements of a supra-national character involving Australia.
A student who has successfully completed this subject should:
- Understand the constitutional position of Commonwealth, state and local governments in Australia and its relevance to intergovernmental relations
- Understand the role of intergovernmental arrangements in Australia
- Be able to distinguish different forms of intergovernmental arrangements and the purpose for which each is used
- Have a good working knowledge of the constitutional and legal rules which apply to intergovernmental arrangements
- Appreciate the key similarities and difference between intergovernmental relations at the national and supra-national levels.
Last updated: 10 November 2023