From: Australian Law Librarian Vol 18 No.4 2010
Review by Allison Jones, Current Awareness Librarian Minter Ellison
In its third edition, Federal Constitutional Law: a Contemporary View provides a considered and scholarly understanding of the Australian federal constitution. The book covers the essential topics in federal constitutional law, with commentary on current effects and the future directions of the law. This edition focuses on developments in corporations law, separation of powers, external affairs, executive powers, spending and appropriations, freedom of interstate trade, express rights and the implied right to vote. It includes selected case extracts and materials which ground analysis of the primary constitutional law.
The law is analysed in an accessible and thorough manner so as to appeal to scholars, students and practitioners requiring a clear analysis of federal constitutional law.
Each chapter begins with a heading followed by an outline ofthe subheadings used in the chapter. This gives the reader an idea of the scope of each chapter and the order of the material to be covered. It also allows for easy reference back to sections of the book.
The first, introductory chapter outlines the fundamental concepts in Australian constitutional law. Chapters two through four consider the legislative powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. Chapter two deals with characterisation, which is essential for the understanding of all exercises of Commonwealth legislative power. Chapters three and four examine specific legislative heads of power, the corporations and external affairs powers. Chapter five specifically considers the Commonwealth executive, while the notion of judicial power, and the linked concept of the separation of judicial power, are addressed in Chapter six.
Chapters seven and eight deal with, respectively, inconsistency of laws, and intergovernmental immunities, which are essential to an understanding of the legal relationship between the Australian central and state governments. Chapters nine and ten consider the distribution offiscal power within Australia. Chapters eleven through thirteen look at specific prohibitions on governmental power (or freedoms from government intrusion). Finally, chapter fourteen deals with some general themes of current interest in the study of federal constitution law. The book finishes with a thorough and detailed Index, and includes a Table of Cases and a Table of Statutes referred to in the text.
Of particular interest is the final chapter, which outlines some general themes of current interest in the study of federal constitutional law. This chapter brings the discussion into the present, and projects into the likely future direction of constructional law in Australia.
The chapter addresses the constitutional issues regarding there cognition and rights of those who se legal system first applied to the land, the indigenous peoples of Australia; and the notions of discrimination and proportionality which have become relevant to constitutional law.
The book represents a thorough discussion of constitutional law and brings the theory into the contemporary context. The authors explain fundamental concepts of constitutional law and expand the concepts to an in-depth academic discussion and analysis. Arguments are logical and well-supported by examples from primary resources.
Clear footnotes are provided, citing case law, statutes and other authorities. Straight forward explanations and analysis makes the book accessible to readers. It has a reader friendly layout, with large, clear font and headings and footnotes. Chapters have been organised in good order, and information has been set out logically, with an easy-to-read style of writing.
The book is written by two recognised academics, and as such, is technically competent and factually accurate. It is current to 1 August 2009, and includes updates relating to Work Choices and most recently, Pape v Commissioner of Taxation. The book is long and very detailed. At $115.00, I think this book is good value for money.
This book is a practical, accessible resource for scholars and lawyers who work with Australia’s federal constitutional jurisprudence. This thoughtful, detailed text would be worth buying for students and academics or anyone conducting research into Australian constitutional law.