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Citizenship Rights, Review Rights and Contractualism

Margaret Allars

Allars examines the rights of citizens in receipt of welfare benefits under a regime of contracted service delivery and mutual obligation. By removing the direct nexus between the citizen and the state, con-tracting out obscures the nature of citizenship rights. Contractualism undermines the idea of social rights to welfare benefits and draws attention to the relationship between social rights and civil and political rights. This is manifested in an aspect of welfare which tends to be neglected in accounts of the theoretical nature of social rights: the entitlement to seek review of decisions affecting such rights by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court. In the regime of contractualism the remedial powers of the merits review tribunals have been confined. It is argued that these review rights are civil rights. The intimate con-nection between review rights and entitlements to welfare benefits in the development of Australian welfare law and policy suggests a civil and political dimension to social rights in Australia. While the constitutionalisation of social rights is contested, the more modest argument is made that civil rights to merits review of decisions affecting social rights should enjoy constitutional protection.

(2001) 18(2) Law in Context 79
Keywords: Citizenship; Welfare Law

   
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