The 2013 George Winterton Memorial Lecture
12 March 2013
Professor Geoffrey Lindell presented the 2013 George Winterton Memorial Lecture on the topic: Judicial review and the dismissal of an elected government in 1975: Then and now?
This was the fourth lecture in the series held in memory and celebration of the achievements of the late George Winterton, Professor of Constitutional Law in this law school, and one of Australia's foremost experts on the Constitution and constitutional law.
It was held in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 14th February 2013 in the presence of many distinguished guests, including justices, jurists, professors of constitutional law and senior practitioners in both branches of the profession.
The George Winterton Memorial Lecture has become established as one of the most prominent events in the annual constitutional law calendar providing an opportunity for leading constitutional law jurists and scholars to present their considered views on relevant and pressing issues of constitutional law and policy based on their years of research,study and practice in the field.
The Winterton Lecture Series, convened by Peter Gerangelos, Professor of Constitutional Law at Sydney Law School, is made possible by the Winterton Memorial Fund.
Queries about contributing to the Fund and about the lecture series can be addressed to Professor Gerangelos.
Professor Lindell examined the legal and constitutional developments since 1975 which make necessary a reappraisal of the constitutional position should such events be repeated today.
When the Whitlam Labor Government was dismissed in 1975 it was widely assumed that judicial review was not available to challenge the validity of that dismissal.
Since that time developments have occurred both in Australia and elsewhere which may involve in the future the courts resolving 'conflicts over the reins of power'.
It has been questioned whether such conflicts would be resolved by a pronouncement of a court.
In Australia developments in administrative law have undermined the assumption that the normal rules which govern the exercise of discretions vested in ordinary government officials and bodies do not apply to those vested in a Vice-regal representative.
In addition there have also been developments which may have the effect of converting the core aspects of the conventions of responsible government - and their accompanying qualifications based on the reserve powers of the Crown - into judicially enforceable rules of law. This lecture addressed whether in the light of such developments the High Court would, and should, intervene to review the legal validity of the dismissal of an elected Government as a result of the Senate blocking Supply if this were to occur again.