Inspired by and honouring the contribution to Australian public law of Dennis Pearce, this collection of essays by some of Australia’s most influential legal thinkers explores how the ascendency of statutes over the past few decades has come to influence the development of Australian public law. A range of current issues relating to statutory interpretation, judicial review, delegated legislation, law reform, and the culture of government are addressed here through an examination of the role of courts, tribunals, inquiries, Ombudsman offices, and freedom of information agencies.
The collection provides a thorough and topical study of the role played by statutes in defining the scope of government authority and in holding that authority to account. It will serve as an invaluable resource for legal practitioners, academics, students, and others interested in the challenges confronting Australian public law and the regulation of government in “the age of statutes.”
Contributing authors include Margaret Allars, AJ Brown, Stephen Gageler, Susan Kenny, John McMillan, Linda Pearson, Cheryl Saunders, and Daniel Stewart.
About the Editors
Notes on Contributors
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes
1. Public Law and a Public Lawyer in the Age of Statutes
Anthony J Connolly and Daniel Stewart
2. The Master of Words: Who Chooses Statutory Meaning?
3. Constitutional Dimensions of Statutory Interpretation
4. Executive Versus Judiciary Revisited
5. Private Standards as Delegated Legislation
6. Enquiring Minds or Inquiring Minders? Towards Clearer Standards for the Appointment of Royal Commissioners and Inquiry Heads
7. The Administrative Review Council and Transformative Reform
8. The Vision Splendid: Australian Tribunals in the 21st Century
9. Administrative Law and Cultural Change
This collection of essays pays proper tribute to the work of Professor Pearce in the many different fields he has ploughed to the profit of the Australian body politic. A critically important part of its success in paying that tribute is that it provokes the reader to consider again issues which lie at the heart of public law: statutory interpretation, the relationship between the executive and judicial branches of government, the structures by which public law is administered and that intangible, but all-important culture which informs how departments and administrators go about the daily administration of law and policy. Read full review…
Janet McLean, Public Law Review, June 2016
Our system of public law is a response to and also defines the constitutional relationship between the courts and the legislature. At the same time, our system of public law delimits the discretionary authority given to the legislature under our constitutional arrangement and is an important means of ensuring that the exercise of legislative power does not exceed proper limits having regard to the principles and values of our system of government.
This collection of essays, by eminent judges and influential legal commentators in the field of public law, is an exploration of the themes identified above and a valuable series of analysis and reflections on important issues in contemporary public law.
This collection of essays is a useful resource for the practitioner working at the leading edge of public law and interested in exploring contemporary issues in this important area of law and our system of government. Read full review…
Charles Wilson, Hearsay, June 2016, 75
Professor Dennis Pearce AO is emeritus professor at the Australian National University. … [He] is a preeminent Australian authority on statutory interpretation … This is a timely collection of essays, with a vibrant range of topics of immediate relevance. It is worthy of honouring the life work of Dennis Pearce. Read full review…
Charles Gregory, Bar News, NSW Bar Association, Winter 2016
Most lawyers today spend far more time dealing with statutes than with case law. Despite this, a comparatively small amount of time in university teaching and research
is devoted to statutes. Dennis Pearce was one of the first academic lawyers to make
a substantial contribution to address this imbalance, with his books on statutory interpretation and delegated legislation. Now a book has been published to recognise his contribution, with a range of articles about statute law.
The book is a short one, but rich in content. The contributors are distinguished academics and practitioners who are
well qualified to comment on statute law.
This book would be of interest to anyone involved with statutes or public law in general. It is a useful reference book regarding several significant issues. I also found it enjoyable to read. Read full review…
Daniel Lovric, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, May 2016
There are few practising lawyers who would not have drawn assistance at some point from the forty years of pre-eminent writing that Professor Dennis Pearce has contributed to the understanding of statutory interpretation in Australia. In 2014, a conference was held in Professor Pearce’s honour, and this book collects fully developed versions of papers given at that conference. In two halves, this collection explores firstly, the relationship between the arms of government as they have been understood historically and some of the challenges that continue to face the courts today, and secondly, some of the more unique ways in which, as a result of statutory bodies, the executive is now held to account.
Of particular interest to practitioners in public law will be the papers by the Honourable Justice Stephen Gageler and Professor Margaret Allars. Justice Gageler’s paper deals with the exceptionally difficult and fascinating question of whether in Australia, when a set of words confer statutory power and admit a range of potential meanings, it is possible for the decision-maker to have the authority to decide the meaning of those words rather than the court. Professor Allars’ essay is a sequel to an essay written by Professor Pearce analysing the conflict between the executive and the judiciary, that traces that conflict further in the context of, amongst other things, the courts’ invocation of the rule of law as a basis for holding the executive to account.
This collection of scholarship will no doubt, although perhaps without quite the same frequency of Professor Pearce’s success, find its way into the judgments of the courts with equally positive reflections.
Queensland Law Reporter – 4 December 2015 –  47 QLR