Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Designing Referendums for Peacemaking: The Case of Bougainville

Author(s): Ron Levy, Amelia Simpson

The use of referendums in conflict societies has increased significantly in recent decades. A planned referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, is a current example. Referendums potentially help a conflict society to progress towards a peaceful resolution of its conflict even in the face of entrenched opposition by certain elites. And, because they can enjoy broad social perceptions of democratic legitimacy, referendums may also help to ensure against subsequent breach of any settlement reached. Yet, in practice referendums have not always been beneficial. Little institutional effort has gone toward improving the popular discourse leading up to the final vote. Standard referendum campaigns often merely amplify the voices of contending and entrenched political parties and elites. In a conflict society, where social polarization is pronounced, referendums thus risk aggravating, rather than ameliorating, tensions.

Research in deliberative democracy - with its concern for channeling disagreement into reasoned forms of persuasion - has yielded insights relevant to resolving violent inter-communal conflict. In this article we suggest the use of a specially-designed ‘deliberative referendum’ in Bougainville. Such a referendum may improve the conflicting parties' prospects of reaching common ground. Even a marginal improvement in the referendum’s deliberative quality may help to reconstruct the referendum from a potential destabilizing factor to a more effective peace-building tool. Yet, while we explore how a deliberative referendum might help to impel the Bougainville peace process toward successful resolution, we also consider the referendum’s hazards.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Designing Referendums for Peacemaking: The Case of Bougainville

Author(s): Ron Levy, Amelia Simpson

The use of referendums in conflict societies has increased significantly in recent decades. A planned referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, is a current example. Referendums potentially help a conflict society to progress towards a peaceful resolution of its conflict even in the face of entrenched opposition by certain elites. And, because they can enjoy broad social perceptions of democratic legitimacy, referendums may also help to ensure against subsequent breach of any settlement reached. Yet, in practice referendums have not always been beneficial. Little institutional effort has gone toward improving the popular discourse leading up to the final vote. Standard referendum campaigns often merely amplify the voices of contending and entrenched political parties and elites. In a conflict society, where social polarization is pronounced, referendums thus risk aggravating, rather than ameliorating, tensions.

Research in deliberative democracy - with its concern for channeling disagreement into reasoned forms of persuasion - has yielded insights relevant to resolving violent inter-communal conflict. In this article we suggest the use of a specially-designed ‘deliberative referendum’ in Bougainville. Such a referendum may improve the conflicting parties' prospects of reaching common ground. Even a marginal improvement in the referendum’s deliberative quality may help to reconstruct the referendum from a potential destabilizing factor to a more effective peace-building tool. Yet, while we explore how a deliberative referendum might help to impel the Bougainville peace process toward successful resolution, we also consider the referendum’s hazards.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination through the Functionalist Lens

Author(s): Amelia Simpson

The Australian Constitution invokes the ideas of equal treatment and discrimination in a number of places, as a direct textual feature of some provisions and also at times as an element of implications drawn from constitutional text and structure. This chapter will explore these instances through a functionalist lens and assess whether, and when, the High Court has produced doctrine that is broadly consistent with the dictates of a functionalist interpretative approach.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory

The (Limited) Significance of the Individual in Section 117 State Residence Discrimination

Author(s): Amelia Simpson

The High Court has yet to resolve a clash of paradigms pervading the reasoning in Street v Queensland Bar Association, the leading case on the Constitution's s 117 prohibition of interstate residence discrimination. Some among the seven separate judgments in that case view s 117 as a non-discrimination rule grounded in intrinsic concern for the individual. Others understand the provision in instrumental terms, viewing its protection of individuals as nothing more than a vehicle for securing federal-structural goals. Neither view clearly prevailed in Street or in subsequent cases. This article explains why a federal-structural understanding of s 117 should be favoured, for reasons of constitutional principle and of consistency with other areas of constitutional law. It also considers what that means for s 117's application in the future, as to the kinds of evidence, reasoning, and comparative guidance that will be most pertinent.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory

The High Court's Conception of Discrimination: Origins, Applications, and Implications

Author(s): Amelia Simpson

In constitutional settings, the High Court has grown attached to a particular conception of discrimination that is notable for its abstractedness and purported universality. This article explores that conception, tracing its evolution and its permeation of the Court's constitutional jurisprudence. It argues that this 'universal' conception of discrimination, while it does mandate certain limited content, cannot provide guidance upon some of the most significant questions confronting judges when shaping constitutional non-discrimination rules.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory

State Immunity from Commonwealth Laws: Austin v. Commonwealth

Author(s): Amelia Simpson

The constitutional principle immunising the States from certain kinds of Commonwealth laws traces back, in its current form, to the High Court’s 1947 decision in Melbourne Corporation v. Commonwealth. The contours of that principle – known as the State immunity principle or the Melbourne Corporation principle – have never been entirely clear.

However, a measure of certainty followed the Court’s endorsement, through the 1990s, of the formulation contained in the judgment of Mason J in Queensland Electricity Commission v. Commonwealth (“QEC”). He framed the principle as comprising 2 elements, or limbs. The first limb, described in terms of discrimination, dealt with Commonwealth laws that singled out States for special burdens or disabilities; the second limb dealt with Commonwealth laws which, while not singling States out, operated so as to destroy or curtail their continued existence or capacity to function.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory

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