The challenges of assessment design in Constitutional Law teaching

In Constitutional Law, it is often posited that teaching and assessment is complex, onerous and student-focussed. This paper centres the teacher-educator in the midst of the Covid pandemic in Australia.

Our research examines three key aspects of assessment design in compulsory Constitutional Law units. First, the choices constitutional law teachers make in designing assessment tasks. Secondly, constitutional law teachers’ own assumptions and attitudes towards assessment generally and their own assessment practices. Thirdly, what constitutional law teachers perceive to be their colleague's views about assessment.

This paper presents preliminary results from a mixed methods survey undertaken in 2021 of constitutional law teachers, in order to examine practices, motivations and assumptions of constitutional law teachers.

Pandemic orders and public health; Challenges in workplace laws

This paper addresses challenges arising at the intersection of public health orders and workplace laws and responses by the Fair Work Commission in the pandemic in Australia. It examines the relationships between public health orders by governments (regarding working from home; borders closed etc..) in the pandemic and Australian workplace law.

I Believe in (the Rule of Law) Fairies: The Distance Between Conceptions of the Rule of Law Fairies in Public Discourse and Conceptual Meaning

The concept of the Rule of Law is frequently deployed in public discourse. The concept’s precise meaning is also frequently explored. Yet, the overlap between the two spheres is less frequently considered. I explore the overlap and illustrate the differences between the concept’s deployment as a rhetorical device in public discourse in Australia and its conceptual meaning. By considering recent invocation of the concept by the Australian Prime Minister (‘PM’) and Attorney General (‘AG’), I identify the concept’s deployment in the public sphere and contrast the difference to the precise meanings of the concept in the literature that explores the concept’s meaning. By replacing the PM and AG’s ‘Rule of Law’ with a stated belief in fairies, I illustrate the concept’s deployment is irrelevant and has purely rhetorical value. In consequence, I suggest an alternate phrase (or phrases) should be used by academics and professionals in place of ‘the Rule of Law’ to ensure clarity.

Extreme Speech and the Implied Freedom of Political Communication

The Australian Constitution does not include a right to free speech but an implied freedom of political communication. The implied freedom has recently been a site of flux, as the High Court has embraced structured proportionality and articulated more clearly the underlying values. This paper considers the challenges posed for the changing nature of the implied freedom by ‘extreme speech’, especially hate speech and speech that advocates law breaking, such as civil disobedience. The paper considers recent decisions such as Clubb v Edwards; Preston v Avery (2019) recognising the role of values such as privacy and dignity in determining the permissible limits on free political communication. Advocacy of law breaking may not protected by the implied freedom e.g. Michael Brown & Ors v Classification Review Board [1998]. This contrasts with the position in the US in Brandenburg v Ohio (1969). The paper considers which approach is most appropriate given the nature of the implied freedom.