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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter attempts to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the Australian constitutional system through which government power is arranged, defined, and limited by investigating ‘unwritten’ constitutional rules. Unwritten constitutional rules are most usually associated with the constitutional conventions that govern the exercise of executive power, which is cursorily, nebulously, and at times somewhat misleadingly defined and vested in Chapter II of the Constitution. The chapter thus commences by defining the concept of ‘unwrittenness’ with respect to constitutional rules and relating that to the norms of the Australian constitutional system. It then describes the three identified types of such rules—convention, common law protections, and judicially drawn implications from the constitutional text. Finally, the chapter analyses the existence, scope, enforceability, and acceptance of these unwritten norms within Australia's blend of political and legal constitutionalism.

Keywords: unwritten constitutional rules, Australian constitutional system, government power, executive power, unwrittenness, unwritten norms, political constitutionalism, legal constitutionalism

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