Availabilities:

Location Domestic International
Gold Coast Session 2 Session 2
Lismore Session 2 Session 2
Online Session 2 Session 2

Unit Summary

Unit type

UG Coursework Unit

Credit points

12

AQF level

7

Level of learning

Intermediate

Former School/College

Former School of Law and Justice

Unit aim

Studies how the law makes public decision-makers accountable for how they exercise their discretions, powers, and duties. Various control mechanisms - particularly courts, merits appeals tribunals, Ombudsman, Freedom of Information (FoI) and privacy legislation at Commonwealth level - aim at curbing bureaucratic mistakes and excesses, and at ensuring sound, rational, and consistent decision-making by governments.

Unit content

Topic 1: Introduction: The framework of Australian administrative law

  • History
  • The prerogative writs
  • The New Administrative Law reforms
  • Discretions vs rules

Topic 2: Judicial review

  • Merits versus legality / procedure
  • The constitutional separation of powers
  • Public vs private decision-makers

Topic 3: Natural justice / procedural fairness

  • When is it required?
  • The hearing rule
  • The rule against bias
  • Legitimate expectation
  • Private (domestic) bodies

Topic 4: Statutory authorisation for decisions

  • Statutory interpretation and “state of mind” clauses
  • Jurisdictional facts
  • Mandatory / invalidatory legislative clauses
  • Bad faith
  • Unauthorised purposes / motives
  • (Ir)relevant considerations

Topic 5: Fettering discretion

  • Estoppel / prior representations
  • Contracts
  • Fixed rule or policy
  • Acting under dictation

Topic 6: At the outer boundary of legality / merits

  • Unreasonableness
  • No evidence

Topic 7: Merits appeals tribunals

  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • Powers and functions
  • Interaction with judicial review

Topic 8: Executive rule-making

  • Subordinate legislation
  • Ministerial policies

Topic 9: Standing for judicial review and merits appeals

  • Rationales for standing (locus standi) as a threshold
  • Common law tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for merits appeals
  • Proposals for open standing

Topic 10: Judicial responses to unlawful government action

  • Consequences of unlawfulness: void vs voidable
  • Remedies
  • Discretion to withhold or postpone a remedy
  • Failure to carry out a legal duty
  • Ouster clauses
  • Constitutional writs

Topic 11: Access to government information

  • Right to reasons
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy laws

Topic 12: Other methods of governmental accountability

  • Ombudsman
  • Human rights and anti-discrimination laws
  • Alternative dispute resolution

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

GA1: , GA2: , GA3: , GA4: , GA5: , GA6: , GA7:
On completion of this unit, students should be able to: GA1 GA2 GA3 GA4 GA5 GA6 GA7
1 identify and explain the central principles and the various elements which inform Australia's federal system of administrative law
2 evaluate the differences between review of the lawfulness of a decision, and review of the merits of a decision
3 demonstrate an understanding of the legal and administrative mechanisms by which the actions and decisions of government officials and agencies may be challenged
4 identify and explain the legal and administrative mechanisms by which government officials and agencies may be rendered accountable for their actions
5 analyse the legal and administrative consequences of unlawful administrative action
6 apply the relevant legal principles to identify the remedies available to persons whose interests have been affected by the unlawful exercise of administrative power.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. identify and explain the central principles and the various elements which inform Australia's federal system of administrative law
    • GA1:
    • GA4:
  2. evaluate the differences between review of the lawfulness of a decision, and review of the merits of a decision
    • GA1:
    • GA4:
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the legal and administrative mechanisms by which the actions and decisions of government officials and agencies may be challenged
    • GA1:
    • GA2:
    • GA4:
  4. identify and explain the legal and administrative mechanisms by which government officials and agencies may be rendered accountable for their actions
    • GA1:
    • GA2:
    • GA4:
  5. analyse the legal and administrative consequences of unlawful administrative action
    • GA1:
    • GA2:
    • GA4:
  6. apply the relevant legal principles to identify the remedies available to persons whose interests have been affected by the unlawful exercise of administrative power.
    • GA1:
    • GA2:
    • GA4:

Prescribed texts

  • Creyke, Robin, McMillan, John & Smyth, Mark, 2015, Control of Government Action: Text, Cases & Commentary, 4th edn, Butterworths/ LexisNexis, Chatswood, NSW. ISBN: 9780409339352 .
Prescribed texts may change in future teaching periods.