Book Review: Lisa Burton Crawford the Rule of Law and the Australian Constitution

AuthorRobert French
Date01 December 2017
Publication Date01 December 2017
SubjectBook Reviews
The Hon. Robert French AC*
Lisa Burton Crawford The Rule of Law and the Australian Constitution
Janina Boughey Human Rights and Judicial Review in Australia and Canada:
The Newest Despotism?
These two books reminded me of two brief exchanges about the rule of law. One was in
2007 or 2008 in Fiji with some American diplomats discussing the military coup under
which President Bainimarama displaced the elected Prime Minister and his government.
At the time I was one of the Australian sessional memb ers of the Supreme Court of Fiji.
One of the diplomats, referring to Fijis new military leadership, said with some
bemusement you know we ran all these guys through rule of law programs. The second
exchange occurred when I was addressing law students at Seoul National University in
October 2 011 on the topic of the Rule of Law and the Constitution. When it came to
question time, one of the international students, who came from Germany, asked where
is it written down in your Constitution, this rule of law?
That question, I suppose, generalised to where is it located?, is one of the underlying
themes of Lisa Burton Crawfords important and thought provoking book. I say thought
provoking not in the usual euphemistic way in a vote of thanks for a boring speech that
has said nothing new. I say thought prov oking because in various parts in the text I
found myself stopping and saying Im not sure I agree with that or I need to think
about that. The book requires of its reader reflection upon each topic and that is a mark
of its merit. Janina Bougheys excellent book focusses on the development of judicial
review of administrative action in Ca nada with an entrenched Bill of Rights and in
Australia without one. She too deals with an important aspect of the rule of law in action
as we understand it in Australia. Her book provides us with a comparative study which
enables us to understand our own administrative law better than we would do without
it. It also calls into question the utility of the fashionable but rather jaded characterisation
of Australian jurisprudence as exceptionalist.
* Adjunct Professor, Monash University. This is an edited version of a speech launching the
two books.

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