“Who will guard the guards?” With this old Roman aphorism, John Fitzgerald, one of the co-authors of Administrative Law – The Laws of Australia, cut to the essential purpose of a system of administrative law in his address at the book’s launch last week.
Following on from the success of Judicial Review – The Laws of Australia (published in 2014 by Thomson Reuters), Administrative Law – The Laws of Australia is the companion text edited by Mark Robinson SC, dealing with review by state and federal tribunals, the work of Ombudsmen, and freedom of information around Australia.
Held at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal offices in Sydney on 22 March 2017, the launch of Administrative Law – The Laws of Australia was a hugely successful evening, with a fantastic number of guests in attendance, braving the inclement weather. The guests included leading practitioners and judicial officers in the field, as well as family, friends and colleagues of the authors.
The Hon Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE GBM, who wrote the Foreword to the book, was a notable and honoured guest.
Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law Director, Catherine Roberts, commenced the proceedings, inviting the Hon Justice Duncan Kerr Chev LH, President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and judge of the Federal Court of Australia, to launch the book.
The importance of having legal checks and balances on government decision-making was a theme taken up by Justice Kerr in his keynote address at the launch. Noting that merits review is built firmly into Australia’s state and federal systems of government, his Honour said:
“Merits review has become an integral part of ethical and impartial public administration and is a key institution for good governance and accountability. That in turn also contributes to better administrative decision-making.”
In his address, Justice Kerr underlined the practical usefulness of Administrative Law – The Laws of Australia for lawyers, commending the text for “writing to principle without loss of particularity” in its treatment of the divergent Commonwealth, State and Territory laws, calling it an “ambitious venture” and remarking on the “original insights” offered in the “Access to Information” chapter authored by John Fitzgerald.
In his speech, Mark Robinson SC acknowledged the enormous contributions of his fellow authors, past and present, and The Laws of Australia editors, in crafting this essential new addition to the corpus of administrative law writings. Amongst his typically amusing and insightful observations, Mark noted that he had now served as a Title Editor on The Laws of Australia for 20 years, and in this capacity had been responsible for overseeing the publication of thousands of pages of material, alongside several books.
In emphasising the importance of having a system of administrative law as a bulwark against “an inherent tendency in government to treat law in an instrumental fashion as simply a means to achieving an end”, John Fitzgerald had high praise for Thomson Reuters:
The large contribution made by Thomson Reuters’ The Laws of Australia in educating the legal profession about the very important topics dealt with in this book is to make sure that lawyers know their business. And Thomson Reuters is certainly to be congratulated for their continuing support of this area of law. It is really quite outstanding.