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The most recent allegations against George Brandis stem from Gillian Triggs' evidence to a Senate estimates hearing. AAP/Lukas Coch

Did Brandis break the law in requesting Triggs' resignation?

Regardless of whether George Brandis' action was illegal, it represents an attempt by the very institutions charged with protecting the rule of law to unduly influence it.
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Norio Nakayama

What happens when you try to hack the constitution?

As we celebrate 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta, many believe that it is time British values were clarified in a codified document for our age. The place to define them could be in a written…
Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Sunday that she’s ‘optimistic’ of forming a majority government, but it may be days before that’s clear. AAP/Dan Peled

What’s next for Queensland if there’s a hung parliament?

While counting continues in the Queensland election, one possibility is a hung parliament with neither major party holding a majority. Prior to the election, both party leaders indicated that they would…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is widely tipped to lose his seat in the January 31 election – yet there are ways he could still be premier. AAP/John Pryke

Can Newman still be Queensland premier if he loses his seat?

If the Liberal National Party wins the Queensland election on Saturday, but its leader, Campbell Newman, loses his seat of Ashgrove, can he remain premier? This may be the question vexing minds on Sunday…
Political, not legal hurdles, stand in the way of the Australian Prime Minister increasing the GST. Lukas Coch/AAP

Why the Commonwealth can change the GST without the states

Under Australian law, changes to the GST are said to be not permitted unless the states agree to the changes. In reality, the GST lock-in mechanism is legally meaningless and unenforceable, though it may…
One Nation’s Pauline Hanson says landholders' constitutional water rights have been undermined by government changes – but is that true? AAP Image/Tertius Pickard

Could the Constitution protect farm water from coal seam gas?

The Australian Constitution says residents have the right to water from the rivers for irrigation and conservation purposes but governments have brought in laws that are restricting this – One Nation’s…
Man Haron Monis was a madman with a persecution complex, but his frustration with the legal system wasn’t without justification. AAP/website screenshot

Man Haron Monis’s poison letters split the High Court and laid bare a flaw in the system

This week’s hostage tragedy in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe will cast a long shadow. It will force us to rethink our readiness for emergencies and the adequacy of our criminal justice system. There has already…
In a 6:1 decision, the High Court upheld the validity of two offences created under Queensland’s anti-bikie measures. AAP/Dan Peled

High Court invites fresh challenge to Queensland’s bikie laws

Last Friday, the High Court handed down its decision in a constitutional challenge to Queensland’s controversial suite of anti-bikie laws. This decision is as interesting for what it does not decide as…
The Abbott government’s Emissions Reduction Fund could be vulnerable to a future constitutional challenge in the wake of recent High Court decisions. AAP/Lukas Coch

Explainer: is Direct Action constitutionally valid?

Late last week, the Senate passed the Abbott government’s controversial A$2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, the centrepiece of its Direct Action Plan to combat climate change. Its passage has been…
Spain has unfinished business thanks to an ambiguous settlement. Ivan McClellan

Spain offers a lesson in how not to deal with devolution

As the UK heads towards its next phase of devolution, it should look to Spain for an example of how to do it badly. In its attempt to please everyone as it drew up its 1978 constitution, Spain ended up…
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…
Andrew Wilkie argues that parliamentary debate and authorisation should be necessary for Australia to go to war. AAP/Gary Schafer

Explainer: Australia’s war powers and the role of parliament

With the announcement of Australia’s involvement in dropping aid to Kurdish fighters engaged against Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq, questions have again arisen about who should control Australia’s…
If Senator Richard di Natale were to win the federal parliament’s support for his bill to legalise euthanasia, it would probably override state bans. AAP/Lukas Coch

Explainer: could federal law end the state bans on euthanasia?

Greens senator Richard Di Natale is circulating a bill to legalise euthanasia throughout Australia, the Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Exposure Draft Bill. The key provision permits – subject to…
Services can now be expanded to include drug and relationship counselling, sports coaching, as well as stress reduction and meditation. Flickr/US Department of Education

School chaplaincy decision: lessons for a beneficial scheme

The High Court of Australia has declared federal funding of the school chaplains program unconstitutional, largely because it doesn’t meet the legal criteria for authorising such payments. But this lack…
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…
Jolly good. Now, about that small matter… Paul Rogers/PA Wire

Explainer: what political clout does Prince Charles have?

A matter concerning Prince Charles, letters written to government ministers and a bid by the Guardian to make them public has been playing out in British courts and the media for the past few years. It…
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…

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