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Bundilla elder Aunty Barbara Raymond with schoolchildren in Darwin last year, supporting the cause of Indigenous constitutional recognition. AAP Image/Supplied by Richard Oppusunggu

Explainer: what Indigenous constitutional recognition means

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australia has been on the national agenda for a long time, but is back in the headlines with the news that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader hope to release…
The first legal challenge to Queensland’s hardline anti-bikie laws is set to hit the High Court. But what are its chances of success? AAP/Dan Peled

Hells Angel takes on bikie laws in court, but what are his chances?

Hells Angel Stefan Kuczborski has launched a constitutional challenge to more than a dozen sections of the Newman government’s notorious anti-bikie laws in Queensland. These include the Vicious Lawless…
Recent protests against Queensland’s anti-bikie laws will find no comfort in previous court rulings that uphold legislators' power to infringe freedom of association. AAP/Kym Agius

Bikie laws fall foul of law of unintended consequences

This week in Brisbane, police charged five Victorian men under Queensland anti-bikie legislation, which makes it an offence for gang members to congregate in groups. But do we actually enjoy freedom of…
Universities could soon become a Commonwealth responsibility – so why would the states give up the power? University image from www.shutterstock.com

Taking over universities: why the states would give up control

State and federal relations are almost always a bumpy ride – you only have to look at the recent stoush over schools funding to see that. So when relations go well and we see a glimpse of that perfect…
The High Court has ruled the ACT’s same-sex marriage law invalid, citing its inconsistency with the federal Marriage Act. AAP/Alan Porritt

ACT law delivers neither marriage nor equality: the High Court’s verdict

The ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex Act) 2013 produced neither a marriage nor equality. Instead it produced inconsistency, leaving the law completely inoperative. Those who exchanged marriage vows last…
The High Court will this week begin deliberating on whether or not the ACT’s same-sex marriage bill is consistent with the Constitution. AAP/Alan Porritt

Same-sex marriage and the High Court: previewing the arguments

This week, the High Court will begin hearing the Commonwealth’s challenge to the ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013. But don’t expect lofty rhetoric about equality; the case is really about the…
The High Court may be forced to decide on the constitutionality of Tasmania’s abortion protest law. Alex Guibord

Tasmania’s abortion protest law is probably constitutionally valid

Earlier this week, constitutional law academic Michael Stokes predicted the High Court of Australia would overturn new Tasmanian legislation banning anti-abortion lobbyists from protesting within 150 metres…
The legislation prohibits protests within 150 metres of an abortion clinic that are able to be seen or heard by a person accessing the clinic. AAP/Mariza O'Keefe

Tasmanian ban on abortion clinic protests may not be constitutionally valid

Tasmania’s abortion law reform bill, which passed late last week, decriminalises abortion and obligates medical practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion to provide information about access…
The binary categories of male and female don’t align with the reality that sex and gender may be fluid. Keoni Cabral

Beyond male and female: time for a non-specific sex category

Earlier this month the High Court indicated it was prepared to hear a legal case that tests the ability of intersex Australians to be legally recognised as being neither male or female. The High Court…
Should it be the role of the Constitution to protect individual rights from being trampled on, such as by Queensland’s newly-introduced anti-bikie legislation? AAP/Dan Peled

Bikies crackdown: did the Constitution fail Queensland?

Last week, Queensland’s state government introduced a number of tough new law and order measures targeting serious sexual offenders and bikies. Under the new laws, bikie gang members in Queensland face…
What are the constitutional and political issues for Tony Abbott to consider around double dissolution elections? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are double dissolutions and how do they work?

Prime minister Tony Abbott has indicated (again) that he is willing to set in motion the procedures necessary to call a double dissolution election, in order to force the repeal of the carbon tax through…
It all comes down to matters of interpretation, and the interpretation that counts is that of the High Court. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: can the Commonwealth override the ACT on marriage equality?

The ACT’s Marriage Equality Bill, which is expected to pass parliament later this month, has revived the controversy about who can legislate for same-sex marriage, with the Commonwealth proposing to challenge…
Tony Abbott has promised a new way forward for federal-state relations if the Coalition wins government. But will he find the federal lever of power too tempting not to pull? AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal-state reform: is Abbott offering the real deal?

Opposition leader Tony Abbott announced on the weekend that a government he leads would adopt a new approach to relations between the Commonwealth and the states. He has promised to meet with the state…
Now that governor-general Quentin Bryce has issued the writs for the election and dissolved parliament, the government is in caretaker mode. But what does this mean? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are the caretaker government conventions?

The Coalition has raised concerns that the Memorandum of Understanding with Papua New Guinea over the Manus Island asylum seeker processing deal was entered into after the caretaker conventions commenced…
Do Kevin Rudd’s proposed reforms to the ALP expose the failings of Australia’s Westminster system of government? AAP

Rudd’s party reforms highlight Westminster woes

Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s proposal to prevent the ALP caucus from deposing a sitting prime minister has raised the hoary issue of the Westminster system. The dominant view among pundits is that under…
Legal, political and even sporting considerations will weigh on the mind of prime minister Kevin Rudd in selecting a new election date. AAP/Lukas Coch

On which Saturday will Kevin Rudd hold the federal election?

NOTE: This piece has been updated on July 2 to reflect the scheduled sittings of federal parliament. One of the most important decisions now for new prime minister Kevin Rudd is selecting the date for…
Western Australia remains the only state to have attempted to secede from the Australian federation, passing a referendum in favour in 1933. AAP/Adam Gartrell

Breaking up is hard to do: why Western Australia would find it difficult to divorce Canberra

Gina Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock was a big proponent of Western Australia seceding from the Australian federation, and every time the latest figures on GST distributions are released, sympathetic sentiments…
Will the push for constitutional recognition of local government actually improve Australia’s system of government? AAP/Alan Porritt

The perils of constitutional recognition of local government

Is this the referendum we don’t need to hold? And how many Australians truly understand the potential impact of their actions when they vote in referendum of the constitutional recognition of local government…
Australians will vote on constitutional recognition for local government in September - but what are the reasons behind the referendum? AAP/Sophie Marr

Explainer: why are we having a referendum on local government?

The federal government has announced that Australians will be voting in a referendum on September 14 - federal election day - to decide whether local government should be recognised in the Australian Constitution…
Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s term ends after the election. Is it in the purview of the Gillard government to announce her replacement? AAP/Lukas Coch

Taking care of the caretaker conventions

Could the Gillard government appoint a successor to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to take up office in March 2014 when Bryce’s appointment expires? The press has reported that opposition leader…

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