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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