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The Law of Politics

The Law of Politics

Elections, Parties and Money in Australia

2nd edition

By Graeme Orr


Democracy, in all its flaws, passions and intricacies, is the foundation of our system of government. The law on it shapes our very experience of electoral democracy. The very question of ‘who’ sets that law is contentious. Should it be set by courts via a constitution, or the work of partisan but accountable legislators?

The Law of Politics is a definitive account of this law. It chronicles and critiques the rules, cases and institutions at play. From the right to vote, to the framework for free and fair elections and referendums, and from the governance of political parties to restraints on money in politics. The law is canvassed in light of the aspirations of political liberty, equality, integrity and deliberation, as well as the realities of practical politics.

Fully revised, this second edition encompasses major developments in MP qualifications, voting systems, campaigning and political finance. It also includes a new chapter on local government.


Foreword by Antony Green AO   Click "Foreword" to download free preview

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Defining the Law of Politics

2. Mapping Parliaments and Weighting Votes

3. The Franchise

4. On a Roll

5. Initiating an Election and Qualifications

6. Political Parties and the Law

7. Campaigning and Advocacy

8. Political Broadcasting and the Internet

9. How We Vote

10. Judging Elections: the Role of Courts in Electoral Practice

11. Money in Politics

12. Local Government

13. Referendums and Direct Democracy



Reviews of previous edition:

At the heart of any democratic system lie the rules of engagement, the laws that define the who, how, where and when of elections. The law can also strengthen democracy by empowering the weak and circumscribing the powerful. From the basics of elections to the unresolved problems of regulating parties and money, this book sets out the legal framework of politics in Australia. For a country with a long and proud history of open democracy and electoral experimentation, the only surprise is that until now Australia has not had a basic text on the law of politics.

Antony Green, Election Analyst, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Graeme Orr's new treatise on Australian electoral law is most welcome and it is likely to be the indispensable reference for decades to come. But it is far more than a reference. Wisdom, common sense, and wit are present on almost every page, together with Orr's acute analysis and encyclopaedic knowledge of the sources. I had high expectations and Orr exceeded them.

Daniel H Lowenstein, Emeritus Professor UCLA Law School

Comprehensive, insightful and clear, this is undoubtedly the best book yet written on the law of politics in Australia. Not surprisingly, it comes from the nation's leading authority on electoral law.

Professor George Williams, University of New South Wales

As a textbook, The Law of Politics is an impressive marshalling of research and case law. … Having warned us early on about the dryness of the material, Orr proceeds to engage the reader skilfully, moving quickly across a wide variety of subjects, packing the pages with illustrative detail and citing a wealth of reference material.

Dr Rosemary Laing, Clerk of the Senate, Alternative Law Journal

Orr’s book is magisterial, and will serve as an invaluable basic reference.

Marian Sawer, Emeritus Professor ANU, Australian Journal of Political Science


Publishing 8 February 2019
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760021917
Australian RRP $89.95
International Price $80.00
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Not yet published

Government / Political Studies
Law - Administrative

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