Deliberation at the Founding: Deliberative Democracy as an Original Constitutional Value

(2017) 27 Public Law Review 41

Deakin Law School Research Paper No. 17-23

21 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017 Last revised: 4 Sep 2017

See all articles by Ron Levy

Ron Levy

Australian National University

Neomal Silva

University of Oxford

Benjamin Saunders

Deakin University

Date Written: March 16, 2017


This article examines whether Australia’s constitutional founders intended that a deliberative form of democratic government should govern federally in Australia. Deliberative democratic ideals have long occupied a prominent place in democratic theory. However, they have seldom been brought to bear in a sustained way on historical questions about Australia’s constitutional design. For constitutional scholars, democratic deliberation is now generally a forgotten element of the Australian constitutional system. We show here how the framers concerned themselves with democratic deliberation, including how precisely they envisaged deliberative democratic practices during the federation Conventions and within the new federation. Our focus is on the framers’ understandings of deliberation within the institution of Parliament, and the subsidiary issues bearing on that question such as the relationship between Parliament and the executive and the role of political parties. Our research suggests that deliberative democracy should assume a prominent place alongside more widely acknowledged original constitutional values.

Keywords: Deliberative Democracy, Australian Constitution, Constitutional Law, Constitutional History, Federation

Suggested Citation

Levy, Ron and Silva, Neomal and Saunders, Benjamin, Deliberation at the Founding: Deliberative Democracy as an Original Constitutional Value (March 16, 2017). (2017) 27 Public Law Review 41; Deakin Law School Research Paper No. 17-23. Available at SSRN:

Ron Levy (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600

Neomal Silva

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Benjamin Saunders

Deakin University ( email )

1 Gheringhap St
Geelong, Victoria 3220

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