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Constitutional and administrative law

Examining power and its limits

Our research is closely aligned to current political issues and is aimed at informing public debate and producing well-considered reforms to laws and Constitutions at the state and federal level.

Our work

Constitutional law and administrative law are both focused on power. What is the legitimate source of political power in Australia? Who may exercise that power and what are the limits on that exercise? We consider the three arms of government – the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary – and how they operate as checks upon the powers of each other. 

The University of Sydney Law School is home to a Constitutional Reform Unit that focuses on proposed reforms from Indigenous Constitutional Recognition to the Republic. Its aim is to provide objective and accurate analysis to the public on constitutional reform issues. 

Our work has a strong research focus on issues concerning citizenship, migration and refugees as well as executive power, federalism and electoral matters. We conduct research into intensely practical issues such as regulation-making as well as jurisprudential analysis and historical research that helps contextualise current issues and suggest options for reform.

Our impact

Our research sometimes has immediate impact through changes to legislation or policy. This may occur through media contributions, posts on the Constitutional Reform Unit’s blog or submissions to parliamentary committees. We also engage in long-term research of great depth that we publish in journals and books that are frequently cited and relied upon by the High Court and other courts to inform their decisions.

Our work is also used by governments, Parliaments and policymakers to inform their deliberations and policy development. Our work has been cited in Cabinet debates, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Hansard, court submissions, parliamentary committee reports and by international scholars.

The quality of our scholarship is highly regarded internationally and we are often invited to speak at international conferences or to address intergovernmental bodies on issues of global importance.

Our experts