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Part I Foundations, Ch.6 Ideas

Patrick Emerton

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Australian Constitution

Edited By: Cheryl Saunders, Adrienne Stone

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 27 September 2023

This chapter sets out some key political ideas that underpin the Australian Constitution. Australia has a somewhat distinctive constitutional culture. It has a rigid, written Constitution of long standing and that is frequently litigated. As a result, there is a flourishing constitutional jurisprudence. However, with a handful of exceptions, the Constitution, and ideas around constitutional values or ideals, play relatively little role in Australian public and political debate. This has generated a sense of the Constitution itself as a prosaic, even arid, legal text. This chapter presents a counterpoint to such perceptions. It also shows how a technical document that has operated within, and to some extent strengthened, a legalistic constitutional jurisprudence, can be understood to be a source of affirmative constitutional value to which that jurisprudence gives genuine expression.

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