Carolyn Evans and Simon Evans are colleagues of mine and, indeed, both hold senior positions in Melbourne Law School. So, trust this review at your peril. That being said, it’s worth mentioning that I find book reviewing to be a bit of a dubious exercise, at least for good books. The reviews are either synopses – so why not just read the back cover? – or ‘review essays’, which aren’t really reviews at all. If you want to hear me blab about broader issues, then there are 67 other posts you should be reading instead. Surely the only point of reviews is to find out what (if anything, but there’s always something) is wrong with a book (which is not likely to be a topic covered on the back cover.)
So, let’s get the positives out of the way quickly: this book, written by two public law academics who have been studying parliamentary human rights statutes since before the Charter was a twinkle in Hulls’s eye and who’ve written the balance of the good articles on the ACTHRA and the Charter in the last few years, is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to (or has to) seriously engage with these peculiar statutes. In particular, a number of sections of Australian Bills of Rights simply have to be the starting point for all informed discussion in the next few years on the following issues:
- parliamentary scrutiny (most of Chapter 2)
- interpretation mandate (Chapter 3)
- remedies (Chapter 4)
- limitations provision (Chapter 5)
These sections are all notable not only for their rigour and depth, but also the breadth of their treatment of these issues, straying far beyond the text of each provision but not beyond their meaning. And the book’s discussion of the scope of the Acts (Chapter 1) and the relevant foreign law sources (Chapter 6) are certainly handy. Even at just 200 pages (quite small print) when you leave out the appendices, it’s easily worth the $95.
That’s enough praise, I think. Time for some criticism, starting with the front cover. Continue reading