Locating the Courts within the Australian Accountability System
(Paper presented at The Frontiers of Public Law Conference, University of Melbourne, 11–13 July 2018)
28 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2019
Date Written: 2018
One of the most prevalent themes in discussions about government accountability is the identification of accountability ‘deficits’ and ‘overloads’. Despite their ubiquity, such claims are often made without any detailed explanation of how the supposed shortfall or excess of accountability has been measured. This paper argues that in looking for accountability deficits and overloads, it is critical to understand accountability mechanisms as a system. Failure to do so leads to the misdiagnosis of potential gaps and overlaps, as authors focus unduly on the contribution of an individual mechanism without appreciating the role played by alternative mechanisms. Focusing on a single mechanism also prevents us from appreciating the complex dynamics within the system that may ameliorate potential gaps or overlaps. Conversely, an approach that maps out the relationships between accountability mechanisms allows us to better appreciate the nature of the contribution made by a particular mechanism to government accountability more broadly.
Keywords: Accountablity systems, government accountability, accountability dynamics, accountability deficits, accountability overloads
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