Law Reform in the Age of Managerialism

Professor Marcia Neave, Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference, 20 June 2002

  • Golden age for Australian law reform—early 1970s–1980s
  • The 1980s–1990s—abolition and restructuring of law reform commissions
  • Ideology of “smaller government” and the rise of economic rationalism
  • Increasing influence of managerialism
  • Increased emphasis on numerical measures of efficiency and accountability
  • Dispersal of law reform techniques
  • Where to from here?
  • Accountability
  • Building deliberative democracy
  • Independence
  • Globalisation and internationalisation of law
  • Conclusion
  • Endnotes


This morning we have heard from two passionate advocates of institutional law reform—Justice Michael Kirby and Professor David Weisbrot. As the first Chairperson of the recently resurrected, or rather reborn, Victorian Law Reform Commission, I share their view that permanent law reform commissions have a distinctive role in social and legal policy development. My talk approaches institutional law reform from an historical perspective, focusing particularly on Australia. Its purpose is to identify the changes in the relationship between government, the bureaucracy and civil society, which threatened the survival of permanent law reform bodies in many jurisdictions in the 1990s. I argue that trends which became apparent in Australia and elsewhere during that period will continue to present a challenge to institutional law reform. Permanent law reform bodies will need to develop strategies which anticipate and respond to managerial and economic rationalist trends.

My comments are divided into three parts. First, I briefly discuss the factors which contributed to government support for institutional law reform in the 1970s and early 1980s. Secondly, I examine how changes in the philosophy of government and in public sector management began to influence the attitudes of politicians and bureaucrats to permanent law reform commissions from the late 1980s. In the third part I discuss how law reform institutions will need to refashion themselves to anticipate, and respond to, changes in the nature of government and civil society.

Golden age for Australian law reform—early 1970s–1980s

As other speakers have noted,[i] enthusiasm for institutional law reform was at its strongest from the 1970s to the early 1980s. During this period Attorneys-General were more influential in government than is now the case, particularly in the federal sphere. In the media, debate around legal issues was more prominent than is the case today, when the “dismal science” of economics dominates political debate and public discourse. Governments were optimistic about the capacity of the state to solve social problems[ii] and were more likely to rely on law, and less likely to put their faith in the market, as a major driver of social and economic change.

Other factors contributing to enthusiasm for institutional law reform in the 1970s and early 1980s included an increasing volume of legislation, and a recognition of the need to update and modernise the law. According to a 1983 speech by Justice Michael Kirby, the impact on society of science and technology[iii]and “changing social values, and ethical perceptions”[iv] including the rise of the women’s movement and recognition of the injustices experienced by Aboriginal people, were also influential.

During the 1970s and 1980s in Australia the role of the bureaucracy was under scrutiny. This country was a leader in creating independent bodies designed to increase the accountability of executive government. The political climate which produced the new administrative law, resulting in the establishment of independent agencies such as the federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Ombudsman, was also favourable to the setting up of independent law reform commissions. In the early days of the Australian Law Reform Commission Sir Clarrie Harders, then Secretary of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, emphasised that law reform commissions should express their own views and not “endeavour to prejudge what a Minister or Parliament would accept”. He believed that a body such as the Australian Law Reform Commission was “much better equipped than a department of State to hear and consider representations from the public”.[v]

One result of the creation of standing law reform bodies was that the whole idea of law reform was reconceptualized. By the early 1980s commissions were beginning to receive references on socially controversial topics such as human tissue transplants and Aboriginal customary law (the ALRC), de facto relationships law and artificial insemination (the NSWLRC). This resulted in changes to the methodology of law reform. Commissions began to appoint advisory and consultative committees with members from a range of disciplines, including economics and the social sciences, as well as law. Some social scientists were appointed as commissioners.[vi]Commissions began to adopt new law reform methodologies, including public consultation, and the use of public opinion surveys, and to place greater reliance on inter-disciplinary and empirical research.

While these changes made law reform a very exciting task for those involved in it, they also made commissions more vulnerable to attack by politicians who disagreed with their recommendations. Political passions which were unlikely to be aroused by proposals for repeal of antiquated laws were more likely to be stirred by recommendations which directly affected groups such as the police or lawyers or which challenged moral convictions deeply held by some sections of the public.

The 1980s–1990s—abolition and restructuring of law reform commissions

If the 1970s and early 1980s were a honeymoon period for law reform, the seven year itch set in towards the end of the 1980s and intensified in the early 1990s. The Law Reform Commission of Canada was abolished in 1992. The Ontario[vii]and British Columbia[viii] Commissions were closed down in 1996 and 1997 respectively.[ix] Law reform commissions were threatened with “right-sizing” or abolition in Australia as well.[x]The New South Wales Law Reform Commission had no full-time commissioners and its budget was substantially cut between 1988 and 1991. In 1992 the Law Reform Commission of Victoria was abolished[xi] and responsibility for law reform was distributed between the Department of Justice, two Parliamentary Committees and an Advisory Committee chaired by the Chief Justice. The South Australian Law Reform Committee, which relied largely on the voluntary contributions of academics, practitioners and judges, was abolished in 1987, leaving the Attorney-General’s Department with responsibility for legal policy work. The Tasmanian Law Reform Commission was abolished in 1987, leaving a single commissioner responsible for law reform in that State.[xii] Both the Queensland and Western Australian Law Reform Commissions were scaled down in the 1990s.[xiii]

Why did this change in attitude occur and what can we learn from it? To answer this question we need to look at the social and political context in which law reform commissions were abolished or reduced in size. What ideas were “washing around” in the 1990s, which led to some governments seeing institutional law reform as an expensive luxury?

I argue that the abolition and downsizing of law reform commissions reflected far-reaching ideological changes about the role of government. These included

  • political support for a reduction in the size of government and the increasing influence of economic rationalism;
  • the application of managerial techniques to the public sector;
  • greater emphasis on numerical accountability measures; and
  • diffusion of law reform methodology throughout the public sector.

I will make some brief remarks about each of these trends and their effect on government’s attitudes to institutional law reform.

Ideology of “smaller government” and the rise of economic rationalism

First, and most obviously, the 1990s were a period of transformation for the public sector in Australia. In his 1983 essay on law reform, Justice Michael Kirby commented that “there will be no going back to the days of small government”.[xiv] Around the same time Professor Ronald Sackville, then Chair of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission,[xv] commented on the “secure position” of law reform agencies in the policy-making processes of government.[xvi] By the 1990s it was clear that this prediction was wrong. “Throughout the Western world liberal democratic governments have transformed themselves in the image of the private sector and according to the beliefs of neo-liberal ideologies”.[xvii] Changes in political ideology included a retreat from the ideal of the welfare state, an expanded role for the private sector and the transformation of citizens into clients and customers.[xviii]

Loss of faith in the welfare state and perceptions of fiscal crisis resulted in governments placing greater emphasis on “getting value for money.” The size of the bureaucracy was substantially reduced and theories about the benefits of competition were applied to many government and semi-government agencies. Tasks previously performed by government were contracted out and privatised. Political ideology shifted from an emphasis on addressing the problems caused by market failure to an emphasis on preventing problems caused by government failure.[xix]

In the new bureaucracy it became received wisdom that the role of government was to set policy directions, rather than to be responsible for hands-on implementation. This philosophy was sometimes expressed in the axiom that governments should “steer, not row”.[xx] In theory, independent law reform commissions could have been seen as institutions which could play a vital role in assisting governments to make better legal policy. In practice such a response was unlikely at a time when the staff of mainstream government departments was being made redundant and government expenditure was being cut. Permanent law reform commissions may seem an attractive target when health and education budgets are being reduced. In this climate it is easy for institutional law reform to be presented as an “expensive experiment” that has “failed to deliver the goods”.[xxi]

As we all know however, the budgets of permanent law reform commissions are comparatively modest. In 1996, the last year of its existence, the former Law Reform Commission of Canada had a budget of $5,000,000.[xxii]The former Law Reform Commission of Victoria’s proposed budget for 1992-3 was $1.89 million[xxiii] and the budget for the new Victorian Law Reform Commission is only a little higher.

Increasing influence of managerialism

In addition to the trend towards small government, the 1990s were characterised by the adoption by government agencies of private sector management techniques. The “new managerialism” obscured the contextual difference between the profit-maximisation in the private sector and the goals of public sector administration. Managerialism emphasises the accountability of public sector managers for the performance of the area which they supervise. This is an important goal. However its downside has been an over-emphasis on numerical and mathematical accountability measures and a corresponding under-emphasis on more subtle qualitative measures of performance such as intellectual rigour, consistency or social justice.[xxiv] I will return to this point in a moment.

Other changes associated with the adoption of managerialism included the centralisation of power in Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet or Premier and Cabinet and in Treasury, an increase in the authority conferred on Chief Executives of Government departments and greater pressure on senior bureaucrats “to identify with their Minister’s political objectives”.[xxv]

This politicisation resulted in attacks on the legitimacy of independent review bodies, such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.[xxvi] I have argued earlier that the creation of such bodies reflected a Zeitgeist which was also favourable to the creation of law reform commissions, during the 1970s and 1980s. By contrast, the 1990s new managerialism may have contributed to government and bureaucratic scepticism about the value of independent review bodies. Although law reform bodies are only minor players in the public sector, distrust of independent bodies outside the mainstream of the bureaucracy rubbed off on law reform commissions. Bureaucrats under pressure to be sensitive to the politics of an issue are not likely to be sympathetic to law reform commissions which claim immunity from such concerns. In order to protect their Minister senior bureaucrats may prefer policy work to remain under departmental or agency control. Alternatively they may see advantages in contracting such work out to private sector consultants, who can conduct their inquiries more discreetly and whose findings do not need to be made public if they do not fit the government’s agenda. Ironically, political parties which attempt to control law reform commissions while they are in government, may attack them for their lack of independence, when they are in Opposition.

My perception is that governments at State and federal level in Australia are less tolerant of debate and criticism than was the case in the 1970s and early 1980s. Ironically, the convergence of the major parties’ policies on the management of the economy may have made it more important for the major parties to differentiate themselves on social policy questions. The 30 second TV grab has impoverished intellectual debate about complex policy issues. It often forces politicians to choose sides in an adversarial contest, before they are in command of the facts that may assist them to make rational policy decisions. Although bureaucrats now speak the language of community consultation, they are also concerned about controlling public opinion, so that their political masters are not embarrassed. All of these factors have reduced the space for policy debate based on rigorous research and rational analysis. Most governments now rely heavily on polling and use media units to massage public perceptions. According to the OED the use of “spin” in the sense of “a bias or slant on information, intended to create a favourable impression when it is presented to the public” dates back to 1978, when it was used in the 22 January edition of “Guardian Weekly”. One of the earliest citations of the expression “spin doctor” was in an October 1984 article in the New York Times. The politics of “spin” is inconsistent with the kind of public policy discussion fostered by law reform commissions.

Because law reform commissions are fairly small beer in the power game they are less likely than independent complaints and review bodies to irritate governments and senior officials who are attempting to implement the wishes of their Ministers. Referring a matter to a law reform commission may also be seen as a way of distancing government from controversial issues. However attacks on the legitimacy of independent agencies contribute to a climate in which law reform commissions become increasingly vulnerable to attack by politicians and those who serve them. It is often in the interests of parties in opposition to suggest that a law reform commission is closely identified with the party in power. For the party in government, it may be difficult to put a spin on the findings of a law reform commission, or a “lid” on policy recommendations which have the potential for political embarrassment. The federal Attorney-General’s reaction to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s submission on native title to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee is an example of the heightened political sensitivity associated with the new managerialism. The appropriateness of the ALRC making a submission was questioned, even though it had done so many times before.

Another feature of the “new managerialism” is the rise of the generic manager and the devaluation of subject-specific expertise. Law reform commissions remain one of the few remaining public sector areas where subject specific expertise is valued above the skills of the generic manager. Painter has commented that under the new managerialist approach “technical and professional specialist take second place to the new “managers”, as does the mandarin generalist”.[xxvii] Tertiary training in management is valuable, but there is a danger that “management” skills will be seen as the answer to all human problems. The philosophy of managerialism may result in higher value being placed on economic, management and financial skills than on the skills of consultation, debate and professional judgment which lawyers and social scientists appointed as law reform commissioners are called upon to exercise.

Increased emphasis on numerical measures of efficiency and accountability

I have already referred to the importance placed by the new managers on numerical and mathematical measures of accountability. The most recent technique used to ensure accountability is output performance measurement. Reliance on KPIs is now replacing earlier obsessions with performance budgeting, program budgeting and management by objectives which were management fashions in the past.[xxviii]

My argument here is not that accountability is undesirable. Obviously law reform commissions have to account for the expenditure of public money. Rather the problem lies in the particular accountability measures favoured by the new managerialist approach in Treasury and Finance Departments, which often privilege quantitative performance measures over qualitative ones. (“If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count.”) Zifcak comments that “Increasingly the professional judgement so characteristic of earlier administrative eras is being displaced by enumerative assessment”.[xxix]Focus on numerical outputs[xxx] can result in loss of sight of other values traditionally associated with permanent law reform commissions, such as independence, preservation of expertise, authoritativeness, community participation and intellectual rigour.[xxxi]

I have argued that the new managerialism undervalues professional expertise and judgment by comparison to management expertise. An emphasis on numerical performance measures exacerbates this trend. Policy views based on the expertise of lawyers, social scientists or just plain human judgment are often seen as less credible than those based on the numerical and economic indicators which make up “the bottom line”. Yet it is these professional judgement calls on which the recommendations of Law Reform Commissions are primarily based.

Dispersal of law reform techniques

The final reason why support for law reform commissions waned during the 1990s may have been that they were victims of their own success. As David Weisbrot discussed in his speech, many of the techniques originally pioneered by law reform commissions have been diffused and “main-streamed” throughout the public sector. During the 1980s and 1990s it became much more common for government departments and specialist advisory bodies to publish discussion papers and to undertake some forms of community consultation. At the political level politicians increasingly rely on opinion polls to give them insights into the views of the public.

I agree that the diffusion of law reform techniques throughout the bureaucracy does not make permanent law reform bodies redundant. Rather, it supports collaboration and exchange of information between the various government bodies which have an involvement in policy making. It is also important to recognise that the idea of consultation is sometimes misused for political purposes. I will argue below that permanent law reform commissions are often better equipped than government departments to undertake the networking and community capacity building which is necessary to build public trust and to create a climate for constructive change.

Where to from here?

So far I have suggested that the abolition and down-sizing of law reform commissions, which occurred in some jurisdictions in the 1990s, was a reflection of broader changes in government and the bureaucracy. Today the value of institutional law reform is again being recognised. A new Law Commission was established in Canada in 1996.[xxxii] The New Zealand Commission, which was thought to be under threat, has survived a rigorous review. There has been a new Victorian Law Reform Commission in Victoria since April last year.[xxxiii] However new recognition of the value of permanent law reform bodies should not make us complacent.

What further changes are likely to occur in the future and how should we anticipate and respond to these changes? Obviously we need to invest considerable time in convincing the community of the value of what we do. We need to explain how the role of a law reform commission differs from that of government departments, parliamentary law reform committees and private consultants who advise governments. I suggest that we need to think more about how law reform commissions should respond to

  • the challenge of accountability,
  • the role which institutional law reform can play in the building of a more deliberative democracy,
  • the preservation of law reform commissions as a source of independent advice to government, and
  • the globalisation and internationalisation of law.


First let me deal with accountability. The centralised control now exercised by Treasury officials is likely to result in increasing accountability demands, which will often be expressed in terms of numerical accountability measures, such as “key performance indicators”. I have argued that such measures are not an effective way of assessing performance. My point is not to argue against accountability, but rather to illustrate the importance of law reform commissions thinking more about how we demonstrate that we provide value for public money.

Law reform commissions cannot and should not be sheltered from the demand to show that they do good work at reasonable cost. However we also need to question the application of measurable, numerical performance indicators to the law reform process. For many years commissions have struggled to come up with more meaningful measures of performance than numbers of publications, and the percentage of recommendations which have resulted in legislative change. It should not be beyond our capacity to devise more sophisticated and complex performance indicators. These should cover matters such as the commission’s contribution to original thought, its Australian and international reputation for intellectual rigour, whether references are completed within a reasonable time, whether publications are understandable to the audiences which they address and the extent to which commissions has been successful in building community participation in law reform debates and promoting public trust.

It is encouraging that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs moved beyond simple numerical performance measures in its favourable review of the Australian Law Reform Commission. Courts have also been struggling with the issue of how to measure their performance and we may be able to learn some lessons from them.

Building deliberative democracy

A second, and related challenge, is to explain the distinctive contribution which law reform commissions can make to the policy-making process. David Weisbrot has already identified important features of law reform commissions which differentiate them from other bodies. I want to focus on the role which law reform commissions can play in the building of a more deliberative or participatory democracy.[xxxiv] Professor Spencer Zifcak has defined deliberative democracy as “that quality of continuing dialogue and debate between government and its constituents about economic, social and governmental purposes which forms the heart of the democratic project”.[xxxv]

In a recent Roy Morgan poll only 1 in 10 Australians said that they believed that politicians were honest and ethical.[xxxvi]Robert Putnam’s book Disaffected Democracies – What’s Troubling the Trilateral Countries indicates that confidence in democratic institutions is declining across the Western world. A number of commentators have argued that the increasing power of the executive in Westminster style governments has resulted in a “democratic deficit”. This deficit is manifested in a reduction in opportunities for citizens to debate with government about economic and social policy issues, or to influence the directions of change. In my view, these trends have contributed to wide ranging community distrust and cynicism, which at the extremes is manifested in support for parties such a One Nation.[xxxvii]

Dialogue between government and members of the civil society is an essential component of deliberative democracy.[xxxviii] Some governments are beginning to understand the cost of exclusive focus on fiscal management issues and to understand the need to involve communities in dialogue about economic and social decisions.

In England, Cabinet Minister Clare Short has warned that the Blair Government has been damaged by its absession with spin.[xxxix] In a recent Institute of Public Administration speech Terry Moran, the head of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet argued that the challenge currently facing government was to equip government both to listen to and to lead its citizens.

Similarly, Professor Meredith Edwards,[xl]who for many years was a senior public servant at federal level, argues that governments have to move towards a more “a more facilitative and enabling role”.[xli] This trend is already apparent in some countries, where attempts are being made to tailor policy advice and public policy which is more responsive to the wishes of citizens and to provide policy makers with access to a wider range of ideas, perspectives and experiences. This may become increasingly important because of the contracting out and privatisation of services previously provided by government, which may result in governments having less understanding of problems and a greater need to involve non-government bodies in the policy-making process.[xlii]Edwards argues that “participatory governance” requires structures and arrangements which support effective relationships across public, private and community sectors.[xliii]

Independent law reform commissions could have an important role in building the capacity of community groups to contribute to solutions to social problems. During the 21st century Australia will have to deal with issues such as environmental degradation, the social and economic consequences of globalisation, a rising tide of refugees, the unequal distribution of work and income and the profound ethical dilemmas arising from the exponential growth in bio-technology. The structure of permanent law reform commissions provides a forum for debate between government and citizens about policy solutions for such issues.


A third and related challenge is to convince the community and the government of the continuing value of independent law reform bodies. This is likely to be a particular challenge for state law reform commissions. Politics at the State level is more parochial than in the federal sphere. This makes it harder for commissions to build relationships with the Opposition as well as government. Law reform commissions will only be effective in enhancing deliberative democracy if they are and are seen to be separate from government and if their advice is insulated from the political process. We need to contribute to public discussion about the structural arrangements necessary to ensure independence.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has recently made a submission to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee of the Victorian Parliament about the governance structures which should underpin independence. The submission argues that independence requires consideration of the following issues.

  • Procedures for the appointment and removal of the head of the body and of board members. Our view is that independence requires, at the minimum, a provision preventing removal of the head of the body except for specified reasons. (It is understood of course, that the government may abolish the body, but in this case it will be politically accountable.)
  • Mechanisms for the employment of staff. My view is that staff should be employed by the commission , rather than by a government department.
  • Funding arrangements. Law reform commissions in Australia get their funding in a number of different ways. In Victoria funding is channelled through the Department of Justice. This is arguably inconsistent with both the reality and the perception of independence. A better alternative might be for funding and agreed performance to be negotiated between the Attorney-General and the Chairperson of the commission, as I understand occurs in New Zealand. There may be other alternatives which should be considered.
  • Reporting arrangements. Provisions which require the Attorney-General to table a law reform commission report in parliament prevent the suppression of recommendations which the government may find politically embarrassing. They are an important mechanism for protecting independence, which does not apply to all commissions.
  • Relationship with a central department, which may provide various forms of support to the independent body. Law reform commissions are sometimes linked to a particular government department for administrative purposes. For example they may receive their budget through that department or share an IT system. Convenient administrative arrangements of this kind have the potential to blur the distinction between the department and the commission. It is important that the relationship between the bodies is governed by clear understanding of the independent role of the public sector body, in relation to such matters as budget management, and reporting relationships. Negotiating a memorandum of understanding between the Attorney-General and the commission may help to clarify this relationship.

Globalisation and internationalisation of law

Finally, law reform bodies will need to re-fashion themselves to respond to the changing nature of law. Increasing globalisation of trade will require new laws and legal structures. International instruments will increasingly influence the content of domestic law. This trend may make state and even federal law reform bodies increasingly irrelevant. Perhaps we now need law reform bodies which can operate at an international level. We need to think about how law reform institutions and methodologies should be reshaped in light of these developments. A small step towards thinking more globally could be the establishment of an Association of Commonwealth Law Reform Agencies, which will be discussed in the last session of this conference.


My talk has briefly traced the history of institutional law reform. In the 1990s, changes to the government and the bureaucracy contributed to some loss of faith in institutional law reform. What are the practical tasks for law reform commissions which wish to be here in 20 or 30 years time? We need to convince politicians and bureaucrats that we make a distinctive contribution to law reform, which differs from the law reform done by departmental policy units, parliamentary committees and private consultants. We need to be accountable and responsive to the various communities we serve. We need to contribute to the continuing dialogue and debate between government and its constituents which lies at the heart of the democratic project. Finally, we need to both be and be perceived to be independent from the party political process.


[i] See for example The Honourable Justice Dean Mildren RFD, Getting Justice Right, Paper delivered at ALRAC Conference 2002.

[ii] P Handford, “The Changing Face of Law Reform” (1999) 73 ALJ 503, 506-7.
[iii] M Kirby, Reform the Law (1983) 35.
[iv] Ibid 34.
[v] Quoted in S.Ross, Politics of Law Reform (1982) 77.
[vi] For example Associate Professor Bettina Cass was appointed as a New South Wales Law Reform Commissioner in the early 1980s. She worked mainly on the reference on de facto relationships.
[vii]The Ontario Law Reform Commission was the first law reform body to be set up in Canada. It was established in 1964 but abolished in 1996.
[viii] The British Columbia Law Reform Commission was set up in 1969 and began operations in 1970. It ceased operation in March 1997 following a decision by the provincial Attorney-General to withdraw funding. Subsequently the British Columbia law Institute funded from the British Columbia Law Foundation. The two BC Universities plus the Law Society and Bar Association are members.
[ix] For further discussion of the situation in Canada see P Handford, “The Changing Face of Law Reform” (1999) 73 ALJ 503.
[x] Minutes and record of Proceedings Sixteenth Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference, Hobart, 24 and 25 September, 13.
[xi] Law Reform Commission Repeal Act 1992 (Vic).
[xii] The Honourable Justice Dean Mildren RFD, Getting Justice Right, Paper delivered at ALRAC Conference 2002, 4. Note that in 1997 the Director of Legal Aid in Tasmania became responsible for law reform. In 2001 an agreement between the Tasmanian government, the University of Tasmania and the Law Society of Tasmania established the Tasmanian Law reform Institute, which is based on the model of the Alberta Law Institute.
[xiii] The QLRC now comprises one fulltime and 6 part-time members. Judging by the advertised salary for the full-time Commissioner, the status of this position has been substantially down-graded. The Law Reform Commission of WA was left with one part-time Commissioner in 1995 and now comprises a Commission of part-time Commissioners. It has a full-time Executive officer operates as a “virtual Commission” which contracts out most of its work. See R Simmonds, Modernising Law Reform Back to the Future? The Case for Another Institution Paper presented to ALRAC conference 2002
[xiv] M Kirby, Reform the Law ( 1983), 32.
[xv] Now Justice Ronald Sackville.
[xvi] R Sackville, “The Role of Law Reform Agencies in Australia” (1985) 59 ALJ 151.
[xvii]W Funnell, Government by Fiat The Retreat from Responsibility (2001) UNSW Press, 1.
[xviii] Ibid.
[xix] The Hon JJ Spigelman AC Chief Justice of New South Wales “Judicial Accountability and Performance Indicators” Paper delivered at 1701 Conference: The 300th Anniversary of the Act of SettlementVancouver, BC, Canada10 May 2001.
[xx] M Edwards, ‘Public Sector Governance – Future Issues for Australia’ (2002) Australian Journal of Public Administration 51, 57.
[xxi] It was so described in the e second reading speech of the Attorney-General of Victoria, Mrs J Wade on the Law Reform Commission Repeal Bill 1992, Vichansrd Assembly 6 November 1992, 550.
[xxii] Hansard Debates, 27 March 1996, Law Commission of Canada Act, Mrs Pierette Venne. Mrs Venne described this expenditure as “astronomical”.
[xxiii] Law Reform Commission of Victoria, Annual Report 1991-2, 27.
[xxiv] Cf the views expressed by E Handsley “Reshaping the Judiciary” (2001) 18 Law in Context 62, 71.
[xxv]S Zifcak “From Administrative Reform to Democratic Reformation: Accountability in a Post – Managerial Era” Seminario Internacional A Reforma Gerencia do Estado , Brasilia 17-18 November 1998.
[xxvi]S Zifcak “From Administrative Reform to Democratic Reformation: Accountability in a Post – Managerial Era” Seminario Internacional A Reforma Gerencia do Estado , Brasilia 17-18 November 1998.
[xxvii] M Painter, “Editorial - Public Management: Fad or Fallacy” XLVII Australian Journal of Public Administration 1.
[xxviii] The Hon JJ Spigelman AC Chief Justice of New South Wales “Judicial Accountability and Performance Indicators” Paper delivered at 1701 Conference: The 300th Anniversary of the Act of SettlementVancouver, BC, Canada10 May 2001.
[xxix]S Zifcak “From Administrative Reform to Democratic Reformation: Accountability in a Post – Managerial Era” Seminario Internacional A Reforma Gerencia do Estado , Brasilia 17-18 November 1998.
[xxx] The Hon JJ Spigelman AC Chief Justice of New South Wales “Judicial Accountability and Performance Indicators” Paper delivered at 1701 Conference: The 300th Anniversary of the Act of SettlementVancouver, BC, Canada10 May 2001.
[xxxi] See also the other values discussed in D, Weisbobrot, “What’s the Value of a Full-time Standing Law Reform Commission” Paper delivered at ALRAC Conference 2000.
[xxxii]Law Commission of Canada Act 1996. Some provincial bodies have been re-established, albeit in a different guise The British Columbia Law Institute was created as the successor of the British Columbia Law Reform Commission by incorporation under the provincial Society Act. The Manitoba Law Reform Commission was set up in 1970. In 1987, the government decided to terminate the appointments of the members and replace them with senior civil servants; however, the decision was reversed in 1988 with a change of government. The LRC was subsequently given legislative footing, in 1990 under the Law Reform Commission Act, and continues operations today.
[xxxiii] Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000.
[xxxiv] For more detailed discussion see S Zifcak “From Administrative Reform to Democratic Reformation: Accountability in a Post – Managerial Era” Seminario Internacional A Reforma Gerencia do Estado , Brasilia 17-18 November 1998.
[xxxv] Ibid.
[xxxvi] Cited in Terry Moran, What Makes A Society Civil? Government and Citizens Occasional Paper IPAA. Moran points out that this decline may not be as significant as it first appears. In 1976 only 2 in 10 of those surveyed said they believed Australain politicians are honest and ethical.
[xxxvii] The rising vote for independents and minor parties in Australia may also reflects public dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties. See A Norton, “Prospects for the Two-Party System in a Pluralising World” (2002) 6 Australian journal of Public Administration 33.
[xxxviii] Philip Pettit, Republicnism: A Theory of Freedom and Government (1997).
[xxxix] .
[xl] Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Canberra.
[xli] M Edwards, “Public Sector Governance-Future Issues for Australia” (2002) 6 Australian Journal of Public Administration 51, 52.
[xlii] Ibid, 57.
[xliii] Ibid 52.

Date published: 
20 Jun 2002

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