This course looks at how law regulates the political process in Australia, with a particular focus on elections, political parties and voting. It investigates how the constitutional and legislative framework shapes and controls the practice of politics, and engages with contemporary debates on issues such as Senate reform, political donations, the expansion of electronic voting and the use of referendums and plebiscites. The course invites students to look behind the law of politics to reflect on its underlying values – such as liberty, equality and deliberation – and to think about how electoral reform invariably involves trade-offs between them. It also draws on political theory and political science to help assess proposals for law reform, such as introducing quotas for female parliamentarians, or penalising political candidates who fail to be truthful in their campaign advertisements. The course deals primarily with Australian law but draws on comparative material from the United States, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
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