Andrew Inglis Clark Lecture


Not Just a Rule Book: Separation of Powers under the Commonwealth Constitution

Start Date

18th Oct 2017 6:00pm

End Date

18th Oct 2017 7:30pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

E.; T. 03 6226 2521

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Not Just a Rule Book: Separation of Powers under the Commonwealth Constitution

presented by 

Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO

Director of Studies, Government Law, and Co-Director of Studies, Public and International Law
University of Melbourne

This lecture challenges the perception of the Australian Constitution as technical and thin. Of course, the Constitution was a product of its time; it now shows its age in various ways; and it had and has notorious defects, not least in its application to Indigenous Australians and in provisions that are grounded on ‘race’. Nevertheless, more than one hundred years after the Constitution came into effect, it is possible to appreciate how its clean lines and broad phrasing reveal the principles on which it is based and provide a framework for their evolution over time. For this, credit is due to those who originally designed the Constitution, including Andrew Inglis Clark.

The lecture will show how the form of the Constitution has encouraged emergence of the separation of powers as one of the key principles on which the Constitution rests. It will examine some of the latest developments in the separation of legislative and executive power for their potential to reset the relationship between governments, Parliaments and the people they represent.

With an introduction by well-known author, Professor Henry Reynolds.

Refreshments from 5.30pm

About the speaker

Photo of Cheryl SaundersCheryl Saunders is a Laureate Professor Emeritus at Melbourne Law School. She specialises in public law, including comparative public law. She is a Director of Studies for Public and International Law in the Melbourne Law Masters, in which she teaches a range of subjects. She is a former President of the International Association of Constitutional Law and the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies. She is a convenor of the Constitution Transformation Network and a senior technical advisor to the Constitution Building Program of International IDEA.