Gold CoastSession 2Session 2
LismoreSession 2Session 2
OnlineSession 2Session 2

Unit description

Studies how the law makes public decision-makers accountable for how they exercise their discretions, powers, and duties. Various control mechanisms - particularly courts, merits appeals tribunals, Ombudsman, Freedom of Information (FoI) and privacy legislation at Commonwealth level - aim at curbing bureaucratic mistakes and excesses, and at ensuring sound, rational, and consistent decision-making by governments.

Unit content

Topic 1: Introduction: The framework of Australian administrative law

  • History
  • The prerogative writs
  • The New Administrative Law reforms
  • Discretions vs rules
  • Judicial review by courts vs merits appeals to tribunals

Topic 2: Judicial review - the basic concepts

  • Merits vs legality/procedure
  • Questions of fact vs questions of law
  • When errors of law 'go to jurisdiction'
  • The constitutional separation of powers
  • The constitutional/prerogative writs
  • What decisions are reviewable under the ADJR Act 1977?
  • Public versus private decision-makers

Topic 3: Judicial review and procedural fairness (natural justice)

  • When is procedural fairness required?
  • The hearing rule
  • The rule against bias
  • Legitimate expectations
  • Private (domestic) associations

Topic 4: Judicial review and statutory authorisation

  • Statutory interpretation and “state of mind” clauses
  • Jurisdictional facts
  • Unauthorised purposes/motives
  • (Ir)relevant considerations
  • Bad faith

Topic 5: Judicial review and the ban on fettering discretion

  • Ministerial/Cabinet policies
  • Following a policy inflexibly
  • Acting under dictation
  • Estoppel by previous promises
  • Contracts

Topic 6: Judicial review for Unreasonableness and "No Evidence"

  • Unreasonableness
  • No evidence

Topic 7: Subordinate (delegated) legislation

  • Role of subordinate (delegated) legislation
  • Legal restrictions
  • Publication
  • Disallowance

Topic 8: Judicial remedies for unlawful government action

  • Consequences of unlawfulness: void vs voidable
  • Mandatory/invalidatory legislative clauses
  • Remedies
  • Discretion to withhold or postpone remedies
  • Failure to carry out a legal duty
  • Ouster clauses

Topic 9: Merits appeals tribunals

  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal and other tribunals
  • Powers and functions
  • Interaction with judicial review
  • Approach to Ministerial/Cabinet policies

Topic 10: Standing for judicial review and merits appeals

  • Rationales for standing (locus standi) as a threshold
  • Common law tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for merits appeals
  • Proposals for open standing

Topic 11: Access to information

  • Right to reasons
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy laws

Topic 12: Other methods of governmental accountability

  • Ombudsman
  • Human rights legislation and anti-discrimination laws
  • Alternative dispute resolution

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

Learning outcomes and graduate attributes

Prescribed texts

Session 2

  • Prescribed text information is not currently available.
Prescribed texts may change in future study periods.

Teaching and assessment

Gold Coast

Teaching method
Lecture online 2 hours (12 weeks)
Tutorial on-site 2 hours (12 weeks)
Exam: open book50%


Teaching method
Lecture online 2 hours (12 weeks)
Tutorial on-site 2 hours (12 weeks)
Exam: open book50%


Teaching method
Lecture online 2 hours (12 weeks)
Tutorial online 2 hours (12 weeks)
Exam: open book50%

Intensive offerings may or may not be scheduled in every session. Please refer to the timetable for further details.

Southern Cross University employs different teaching methods within units to provide students with the flexibility to choose the mode of learning that best suits them. SCU academics strive to use the latest approaches and, as a result, the learning modes and materials may change. The most current information regarding a unit will be provided to enrolled students at the beginning of the study session.

Fee information


Commonwealth Supported courses
For information regarding Student Contribution Amounts please visit the Student Contribution Amounts.
Commencing 2020 Commonwealth Supported only. Student contribution band: 3

Fee paying courses
For POSTGRADUATE or UNDERGRADUATE full fee paying courses please check Domestic Postgraduate Fees OR Domestic Undergraduate Fees


Please check the international course and fee list to determine the relevant fees.