The Future of Australian Federalism: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Presepectives By Gabrielle Appleby, Nicholas Aroney and Thomas John (Eds)

AuthorW. John Hopkins
PositionAssociate Professor, School of Law, University of Canterbury
Book Review 185
E: G A, N A  T
J. C U  P, , P 
W. J H*
e future of Australia n federalism seems to be a constant matter of
discussion for academics in the “lucky country”. To many outsiders, this
seems an incomprehensible state of aairs and few states have the constant
self-examination of their constitution that seems to exist in Austra lia. is
book attempts to provide such understanding and place the Aust ralian debate
in an international context. is a im is clearly achieved in what is an excellent
volume, densely backed with both detail and overview. For this reader it
certainly provided some much needed enlightenment.
e book brings together a wider range of authors from both Austra lia
and across the globe. As is often the case with such collections (which as
in this case emerged from a conference) this leads to a lack of coherence
in some places and distinct variations in quality across the contributions.
Nevertheless, overall the work hangs together in a way that is relatively
unusual for such large works. e volume starts with an excellent overview
by the authors, clearly pro-federal in their sentiments, which provides a good
structure for the book as a whole. Importantly, for the non-Australian reader
(or the generalist), it places the Australian federal mode in t he domestic
context, explaining how it ts within the rest of the constitituional structure.
e rst substantive section discusses the balance bet ween the
Commonwealth level and the states throug h ve distinct chapters. ese are
provided by a mix of academics and judges and it is noticeable that there
are distinct disa greements between them although a s Gageler points out,
attempts to pinpoint the nature of the balance are doomed to fail such is its
uid nature. However, the ow ap ears to be all one way, towards the federal
level. Perhaps the most interesting comments are by Robert French (Chief
Justice of Australia) who argues strongly that the trend towards cooperative
federalism (although popular and perhaps advisable) leads inexorably to the
empowerment of the Commonwealth level. Similar arguments are to be
found in the contribution of Paul De Jersey (Chief Justice of Queensland).
e chapter by Zimmerman in this section, although interesting, is also
something of an anomaly, arguing for exceptionalism in Western Australia
and positing the possibility of cessation or “special treat ment” for the resource
* Associate Profe ssor, School of Law, University of Canterbur y

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