Elite Supply 'Blockages' and the Failure of National Bill of Rights Initiatives in Australia: A Comparative Westminster Analysis

Commonwealth and Comparative Politics

36 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011 Last revised: 24 Feb 2011

See all articles by David Erdos

David Erdos

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; Trinity Hall

Date Written: July 3, 2008

Abstract

This paper examines why Australia remains the only country in the Westminster world not to have adopted a national Bill of Rights. It is argued that an explanation based on allegedly inherently weak demand for such initiatives is at best incomplete. Instead, it is argued that two elite political supply ‘blockages’ have also proved significant. Firstly, Australia’s much stronger institutional fragmentation compared especially with the UK and New Zealand have raised the barrier against such constitutional (or quasi-constitutional) reform. Secondly, during the crucial periods of its political history, Australia (in contrast to Canada, the UK and New Zealand) has lacked an appropriate ‘trigger dynamic’ providing elites with an immediate rationale and impetus for change.

Keywords: Australia, human rights, bill of rights, institutional fragmentation, federalism, political triggers, multiculturalism, cultural left

Suggested Citation

Erdos, David, Elite Supply 'Blockages' and the Failure of National Bill of Rights Initiatives in Australia: A Comparative Westminster Analysis (July 3, 2008). Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1765995

David Erdos (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/academic/d-o-erdos/5972

Trinity Hall ( email )

University of Cambridge
Trinity Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1TJ
United Kingdom

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