Law & Culture

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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Royal Commissions & Public Inquiries: Practice And Potential

Eric Windholz

Royal-Commissions-Public-Inquiries-Practice-And-PotentialScott Prasser and Helen Tracey (Eds); Connor Court Publishing, 2014; 410pp; $49.95 (paperback)

Royal Commissions and other forms of public inquiries are an important feature of modern government. Executed well, they contribute to rational policymaking and improved accountability and integrity. However if executed poorly, they can be wasteful and costly, and risk undermining public confidence both in the inquiry process itself, and in government more broadly. They are therefore an important topic warranting greater understanding.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 279

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The Politics Of Law And Stability In China

Gary Lung

The-Politics-Of-Law-And-StabilitySusan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio and Sarah Biddulph (Eds); Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014; 290pp; UK£72 (hardcover)

The Politics of Law and Stability in China is a collection of 13 essays that examines the nexus between the law and social stability in contemporary China. Former leader of China Deng Xiaoping once said the Communist Party-state should ‘preserve stability above all other concerns’ (wending yadao yiqie), and social stability has since become a central socio-political concern for China’s governing authorities in the past decades. The book is divided into three parts to explore how Chinese government adapts its law and legal procedures in order to achieve and maintain social stability and to strike a balance between reaching positive legal outcomes and positive social outcomes behind the country’s rapid economic growth.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 279

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Aboriginal Customary Law: A Source Of Common Law Title To Land

Katie O’bryan

Aboriginal-Customary-Law-A-Source-Of-Common-Law-Title-To-LandUlla Secher; Hart Publishing, 2014; 534pp; UK£90 (hardcover)

As noted in the Preface, this book seeks ‘to offer an alternative to conventional Aboriginal title doctrine,’ namely the doctrine of common law Aboriginal customary title.

The book starts by explaining the system of feudalism that shaped the common law and the doctrine of tenure, and the effect of their reception into the Australian colonies up until the seminal Mabo decision. The book then re-evaluates pre-Mabo case law from former British colonies in Africa, as well as the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 280

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The Whitlam Legacy

Rob Lehrer

the-whitlam-legacyTroy Bramston (ed); Federation Press, 2013, 544pp; $59.95 (hardback).

Growing up in suburban Melbourne and attending the local primary school in the early 1970’s I had a window into what broader Australia was like at the time of the 1972 election. At Monday morning assembly the drumming squad marched us in to the quadrangle as the flag was raised and we sang God Save the Queen. The kids ate white bread sandwiches and the majority had sandy hair and freckled faces. Those of us with an ‘ethnic’ background, or with University-educated parents who read literature and attended performances of Modern Dance or art galleries, were in the distinct minority as were those who held progressive political and social views, or at least so it seemed.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 281

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Pride

Glenn Osboldstone

PrideDirected by Matthew Warchus. Starring Bill Nighy; Paddy Considine and Imelda Staunton; eOne films 2014; 120 mins

The working-class destroying policies of Margaret Thatcher may be said to have spawned its own mini film industry. Films such as The Full Monty, Billy Elliot and the extraordinarily moving Brassed Off all depict life during the 1984-85 UK miners’ strike where Thatcher waged a vicious war using all the tools of state oppression, including draconian laws against the workers protesting the pit closures and the loss of their livelihoods. Those films show the desperate means that retrenched workers often have to go to in order to keep food on their families’ tables and all feature plenty of wonderful music.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 282

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