Constitution

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John Curtin and Ben Chifley were successful in expanding the power of the Commonwealth – and thus that of the prime minister. AAP/Alan Porritt

Lacking a script, individuals drove the evolution of prime ministerial power

Alfred Deakin and his contemporaries invented the Australian prime ministership. But it was not settled as a platform for national leadership until John Curtin and Ben Chifley's time.
In many important areas of Australia’s system of government, much is determined by unwritten rules – or what we call ‘constitutional conventions’. Archives New Zealand

How unwritten rules shape ministerial accountability

Australia’s Constitution sets the ground rules for its system of government. But many things one might expect to be in the Constitution are simply not there.
South Africa’s Justice Sisi Khampepe swears in David van Rooyen as the new Minister of Finance while President Jacob Zuma looks on. EPA/Elmond Jiyane

Zuma’s leadership: political expediency versus the interests of South Africa

The sudden expulsion of the finance minister makes it hard not to be pessimistic about the South African government's ability to manage the difficult challenges it might face in 2016.
The 1975 crisis surrounding the dismissal of the Whitlam government was brought about in part by the nature of Australia’s constitutional arrangements. NLA

What might The Dismissal’s legacy mean for an Australian republic push?

Is the Dismissal a moment that will become even more significant if the push for Australia to become a republic gains momentum?
Marking the 30th anniversary of the handover of Uluru to its traditional owners, Bill Shorten reiterated the importance of constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. AAP/Dan Peled

Indigenous recognition must scrap race powers in Constitution: Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said that Indigenous recognition in the Constitution cannot just be "empty poetry" but must lay to rest "the ghosts of the discrimination" haunting the document.
Students protest at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University demanding the right to be taught in English rather than Afrikaans, which they identify with apartheid. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Universities need to manage hate speech, not stifle freedom of expression

The university should be the bastion of the right to free expression in the promotion of democracy, and has a moral and ethical obligation to provide spaces for fierce debate and critical engagement.
An appropriate process for achieving consensus among Indigenous communities is critical to the success of constitutional recognition. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Constitutional recognition: two steps forward after one step back

Tony Abbott’s belated agreement with Indigenous leaders on a consultation process for constitutional recognition is a step in the right direction.
The message that terrorism is exceptional and egregious will be compromised if the current citizenship revocation bill becomes law. AAP/Dan Peled

Bill relies on legal fiction of self-executing law to revoke citizenship

Multiple concerns have been raised about the citizenship-stripping bill's inattention to human rights, its differential impact upon dual and sole nationals, and its potential application to persons who commit relatively minor crimes.
Australia’s proposals to recognise Indigenous people in its Constitution will likely be much less substantive than those of many other countries. AAP/David Moir

What can Australia learn from indigenous recognition in other countries?

Constitutional recognition may have very limited impact if the groups benefiting from the change lack the political weight to leverage it into greater social change.
If a way ahead on constitutional recognition is to be forged, it must be through political leadership and genuine public consultation. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Leadership is key to breaking the impasse on constitutional recognition

The parliamentary committee's report highlights the deep division between those who want to advance Indigenous recognition through minimal constitutional change and those who seek more substantive reform.

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