This book argues that the current approach to constitutional debate suffers from the flaw of being anti-theoretical, in the sense that it is not grounded in any set of values, and is afflicted by a tendency to consider practical objections to reform before considering the moral case for it. This book argues that instead of accepting the constitution as it is, it is time we began to discuss how it ought to be, taking human dignity as the fundamental value upon which a constitution should be based. It then puts the case for change in a number of areas, including reform of the electoral system, enhanced parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, the inclusion in the constitution of a full bill of rights, the abolition of the federal system, realisation of the rights of Indigenous people, codification of constitutional conventions either in conjunction with or separately from an Australian republic, reform of the rules of standing in constitutional matters and, finally, the need to improve civics education.
This book is designed to be provocative in the way that it directly challenges current academic orthodoxy. This book also outlines a proposed draft new constitution. This book will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about how Australia is governed and why it has been so difficult to achieve constitutional reform.
Bede Harris has a BA(Mod) from Trinity College, University of Dublin, an LLB (cum laude) from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, and a DPhil from the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. He has previously taught at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg; the University of Waikato; James Cook University and the University of Canberra.
Bede's areas of research are Constitutional Law (particularly constitutional reform), Indigenous legal issues, Corporations Law and Consumer Law.
In 2001 Bede was awarded a Fulbright Senior Fellowship and attended the American Studies Institute held at the Meyner Centre for the Study of Government at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where teachers of Constitutional Law from a variety of jurisdictions studied US constitutional law, before travelling in the south-west of the United States to study native American self-government.
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