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The Constitution of a Federal Commonwealth


  • Page extent: 446 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.71 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521716895)

By analysing original sources and evaluating conceptual frameworks, this book discusses the idea proclaimed in the Preamble to the Constitution that Australia is a federal commonwealth. Taking careful account of the influence which the American, Canadian and Swiss Constitutions had upon the framers of the Australian Constitution, the author shows how the framers wrestled with the problem of integrating federal ideas with inherited British traditions and their own experiences of parliamentary government. In so doing, the book explains how the Constitution came into being in the context of the groundswell of federal ideas then sweeping the English-speaking world. In advancing an original argument about the relationship between the formation of the Constitution, the representative institutions, configurations of power and amending formulas contained therein, light is shed on the terms and structure of the Constitution and a range of problems associated with its interpretation and practical operation are addressed.

• Deals separately with historical, political and legal issues, thus enabling historians, political scientists and lawyers to focus upon those aspects of the book that are of most relevance • Includes a thorough index and table of statutes and cases, enabling the book to be used as a reference work • Includes an extensive bibliography, enabling readers to use the book for further research


Preface; Table of statues and executive instruements; Table of cases; Introduction: Australia as a federal commonwealth; Part I. Federalism: 1. Conceptualising federalism; 2. Reframing the analysis; Part II. Federating Australia: 3. Models and sources; 4. Australian appropriations; 5. Constitutional foundations; 6. Formative institutions; Part III. Australian Federation: 7. Principles of representation; 8. Representative institutions; 9. The states and the Commonwealth; 10. Configurations of power; 11. Amendment procedures; Part IV. Conclusions: 12. A federal commonwealth; Select provisions; Bibliography; Index.


'… I can think of no higher praise of Dr Aroney's book, The Constitution of a Federal Commonwealth: The Making and Meaning of the Australian Constitution … [His book] is as important as its subject is fascinating for Australian lawyers … Dr Aroney makes a compelling case.' Hon. Justice Patrick Keane, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland

'… an excellent investigation of the historical origins of the Australian federal system, with unusually detailed coverage of the prevailing political theories of federal constitutionalism: with impressive sketches of how the colonial framers interpreted such luminaries on federalism as Madison, Bryce, Freeman, Dicey, and Burgess.' The Journal of Legislative Studies

'I would commend The Constitution of a Federal Commonwealth: The Making and Meaning of the Australian Constitution to students, academics and scholars of constitutional law as providing fresh insights into the well traversed topic of federalism. It is my opinion that this book must now be regarded as an obligatory reference on the subject of federalism. I hope that Aroney's new federal theory will be acknowledged and referred to by the High Court when they next consider issues of federalism and constitutional interpretation.' Michelle Evans, eLaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law

'… this book makes an important contribution to the study of the history of the Australian constitutional system and of the concept of federalism … but its threefold significance goes far beyond the Australian case. First, the work liberates us from the habit of always understanding federal experience by reference to the emblematic example of the United States … Next, the thesis convincingly demonstrates the link between the genesis of the Australian constitution and its content and, if correct, refutes the principal arguments of German and French scholarship … that to study any constitution the jurist must separately consider legal history, constitutional history and constitutional law … [Finally, in so doing], the book advances a radically new way of understanding federalism … Aroney's book is a model for all who would boldly re-interpret the historical formation of modern federations.' Olivier Beaud, Jus Politicum: Revue de droit politique

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