2012 - Vol 37(3) - What constitutes reform?

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From Control to Consent

Reflections on Legal Processes

Removing racism from Australia’s Constitutional DNA

George Williams

S Roth, A step in the right directionThe idea of a referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution was put on the national political agenda in the aftermath of the August 2010 federal election. This occurred without any announcement of what form the change would take. In effect, it was a commitment by the minority Gillard government to a referendum at or before the next federal election without a specific proposal for change.1 This poses a major challenge. Although Indigenous peoples have long sought recognition in Australia’s national and state Constitutions, common ground has not yet emerged on how this should be achieved. Hence, the task is not simply one of convincing Australians to vote Yes, but of determining what the amendment should be in the first place.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 151


Constitutional reform 2013: What are we trying to achieve?

Asmi Wood

It appears today that there is multi-party support to recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (‘Indigenous peoples’, ‘Indigenous recognition’) as the first peoples of Australia.1 The dominant contemporary view is that ‘governments should act in the best interests only, of Indigenous peoples’ and that formal equality was achieved in 1967.2 This is because the ‘yes’ case in the 1967 referendum stated that: ‘The Commonwealth’s object will be to co-operate with the States to ensure that together we act in the best interests of the Aboriginal people of Australia [emphasis added]’.3 This ‘yes’ case received about 90 per cent of the vote — the highest ever ‘yes’ vote at an Australia referendum.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 156


Towards youth engagement in the referendum on Indigenous recognition

Paul Kildea

Looking ahead to the referendum on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, one of the more difficult challenges will be designing and implementing a process that secures high levels of popular engagement. As several commentators have observed, public understanding and participation are critical if Australians are to feel a sense of ownership over the referendum, and if the outcome is to attract a broad legitimacy.1 The expert panel was alert to the importance of public engagement, as shown by its recommendation that the federal government implement ‘a properly resourced public education and awareness program’ in the lead up to the referendum.2 It is also presumably what Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, had in mind when she urged Australians to gather around their kitchen tables and barbeques and have ‘conversations’ about constitutional reform.3

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 161


From terrorism to bikies: Control orders in Australia

Nicola McGarrity

S Roth, Ok, bikie... do you have any concealed weapons?Ten years ago, the ‘war on terror’ dominated political debate. Today we find ourselves in another war, namely, the ‘war on organised crime’. The Australian Crime Commission has described organised crime as ‘a dynamic, ever-evolving transnational phenomenon of immense size’.1 Australian governments have therefore seen fit to develop new weapons to respond to this threat. The latest and most controversial of these are ‘bikie control order laws’, as they are commonly called. To date, such laws have been enacted in South Australia (2008), New South Wales (2009), the Northern Territory (2009) and Queensland (2009).2 Western Australia is the most recent jurisdiction to jump on the bandwagon, introducing what it describes as the ‘toughest organised crime laws in the nation’ into the parliament in November 2011.3

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 161


Thawing out the law school: Why we need legal education theory

James Gray

S Roth -  Will this be on the exam?In his entertainingly polemical article The Emperor’s New Legal Education Theory,1 Dan Svantesson considered the place of legal education theory in Australian law schools. As his choice of title might suggest, Svantesson seeks to question the value of academics theorising about their teaching, in particular, of academics conducting research in education theory unless it is their main discipline. The aim of this article is to respond to two points raised by Svantesson and then, more generally, to offer some reasons why academics should engage with legal educational theory.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 171


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