Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Can money buy you (climate) happiness? Economic co-benefits and the implementation of effective carbon pricing policies in Mexico
    Dibley, A ; Garcia-Miron, R (Elsevier, 2020-12)
    It is difficult for governments to implement effective climate change mitigation policies because they often create short-term costs for concentrated industry groups who oppose them. As such, climate policy scholars have theorized that governments will be more willing and able to implement mitigation policies where they align with other economic policy objectives. The logic of this “economic co-benefits” argument is that co-benefits create short-term gains for governments to offset the immediate costs they face in introducing mitigation policies. Through a most-similar systems design comparative study of a carbon tax and an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in Mexico, this article interrogates the economic co-benefits theory of mitigation policy adoption. By comparing the motivations underpinning two carbon pricing policies in a single country, the article suggests that the presence of immediately accruing fiscal revenues created short-term incentives for the Mexican government to implement the carbon tax, whereas such short-term incentives were not present with respect to the ETS. However, in both cases concentrated affected industry groups were able to dilute the carbon prices to which they were subject. The implications of this study are that economic co-benefits may not be as useful in achieving effective mitigation policy outcomes, in the absence of measures which also independently change the interests of concentrated industry groups.
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    Decarbonization in state-owned power companies: Lessons from a comparative analysis
    Benoit, P ; Clark, A ; Schwarz, M ; Dibley, A (Elsevier, 2022-06-25)
    A rapid decarbonization of the electricity system is urgently required for the Paris Agreement objectives to stand a reasonable chance of being met. While state-owned power companies (SPCs) are the dominant firm type in the global electricity sector, representing nearly two thirds of global electric power generation capacity, most climate policy literature focuses on private sector companies when analyzing decarbonization interventions. SPCs’ distinct corporate governance structures, objectives, relationships with government, and sources of finance, however, can be markedly different from those of private companies. Here, we develop a framework for analyzing the extent to which common and divergent features of SPCs, and the markets in which they operate, affect their relationship to government interventions on decarbonization. We also consider the implications of these relationships for the effective implementation of sector-wide decarbonization strategies. We then apply this framework using a comparative case study analysis of six major SPCs, and highlight how differences in their agency, motivation, capacity, and market exposure may result in different potential responsiveness to government regulatory, policy and market interventions on decarbonization. We generalize these findings by developing four SPC archetypes and illustrate how they might respond differently to government interventions targeting decarbonization. Our analysis posits that SPCs can, under the guidance of governments pursuing ambitious climate policy, be more effective vehicles for decarbonization relative to private sector companies, particularly when they operate with a high degree of operational independence, are insulated from competitive pressures, and have the financial and technical capacity to invest in the decarbonization of their asset base. Similarly, market-wide policy interventions, such as carbon pricing mechanisms, could in practice be less effective interventions with respect to SPCs than their private counterparts when the SPC is ill-equipped to translate these incentives into decarbonization action because it is mandated to pursue supplementary objectives other than profit maximization alone. Ultimately, governments will need to step up their climate action to achieve carbon neutrality. SPCs can, and where they are major market players, must be key actors in driving decarbonization when the appropriate interventions are utilized and therefore deserve significantly more attention in the climate policy debate.
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    National COVID debts: climate change imperils countries' ability to repay
    Dibley, A ; Wetzer, T ; Hepburn, C (Nature Research, 2021-04-06)
    Analysis reveals three ways to boost green investment and achieve a resilient recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
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    The Environmental Social Governance of Animal Welfare: A Review of Current Practice in Responsible Investment in Australia
    Parker, C ; Cornish, A ; Boehm, L (Thomson Reuters (Professional), 2022)
    “Animal cruelty” is the single top issue Australians want to avoid in their investments. As such, animal welfare is an environmental social governance issue that poses significant investment risk due to its capacity to impact on the legal, social and ethical licenses required to operate a business. This article reports the findings of an empirical study, which found that, of 35 asset managers and superannuation funds benchmarked as best practice in responsible investment, only 13 reported considering animal welfare in any way. Given the significance of animal agriculture to the Australian economy, the article suggests some strategies to raise awareness and skills in relation to animal welfare among the responsible investment community, such as the explicit inclusion of animal welfare in Principle 7 of the ASX's Corporate Governance Principles.
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    Mandating Symbolic Patriotism: China’s Flag and Anthem in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
    Clift, B (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2021)
    The Hong Kong statute criminalizing disrespect of the Chinese national anthem, passed in 2020, is one of many recent moves to suppress political dissent in the former British colony. The law restricts freedom of political expression, but its constitutionality is practically assured courtesy of earlier decisions upholding laws against flag desecration. This article draws on sociological and political literature to argue that symbolic nationalism, particularly when given the force of law, is a tool of the authoritarian state. Against this backdrop, it critically and comparatively analyses Hong Kong judicial decisions upholding the suppression of symbolic dissent, assessing their doctrinal coherence, normative defensibility, and consequences. It concludes with observations on the efficacy of attempts to enforce patriotic orthodoxy and on how deference to authoritarianism affects the rule of law.
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    Numbing the pain or diffusing the pressure? The co-optation of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals's "naming and shaming" campaign against mulesing
    Bromberg, L (WILEY, 2021-07)
    Abstract This article examines a high‐profile “naming and shaming” campaign launched by the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals targeting the controversial sheep husbandry practice of mulesing. This campaign led to important changes to the “rules of the game” governing global merino wool production. This article suggests that contests between activists and other stakeholders over the framing of the policy problem and activists' choice of strategy can result in co‐optation of activist ideas by corporate actors. The possibility of co‐optation of ostensibly successful social movement campaigns highlights the importance of considering such campaigns in light of movements' values and longer‐term goals.
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    Rapid acute care genomics: Challenges and opportunities for genetic counselors
    Lynch, F ; Nisselle, A ; Gaff, CL ; McClaren, B (WILEY, 2021-02)
    Genomic medicine in pediatric acute care is showing great promise, with rapid results from exome and genome sequencing returned within days providing critically important information for treatment and management of seriously ill children. Many have suggested that rapid acute care genomics presents novel genetic counseling issues. This is due to the need for rapid response to referrals, the immense emotional distress that parents are likely to experience when their child is in acute care, and the unfamiliar environment of the acute care setting. To explore the practice of genetic counselors in this setting, we conducted qualitative interviews with 16 genetic counselors (GCs), representing a large proportion of GCs at the frontline of providing genetic counseling in acute care settings in Australia. Interviews revealed themes describing genetic counseling in acute care, including practical challenges of counseling within a rapid turnaround time, similarities with other contexts such as prenatal counseling, and the need for education of other health professionals. Interestingly, GCs did not raise concerns in the interviews for parents' ability to provide informed consent for rapid genomic sequencing. GCs also encountered practical and organizational challenges with counseling in this setting where 24-hr care is provided, at odds with traditional '9 to 5' Genetics service delivery. Working closely in a multidisciplinary team was common and participants believed that GCs are well positioned to take a leading role in the education of other health professionals as rapid acute care genomics becomes routine clinical practice. Despite views that genetic counseling practice in rapid acute care genomics is unique, these exploratory data suggest that GCs are flexible, adaptable, and sufficiently skilled to deliver patient-centered counseling in this setting. Our work indicates GCs are ready and willing to contribute at an early stage of adoption of genomic investigations in acute care.
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    Cross-border insolvency law in Hong Kong: Recognition of foreign schemes of arrangement
    Godwin, A ; Qu, CZ (Wiley, 2021-09-01)
    Abstract Hong Kong has no statutory cross‐border insolvency regime. Hong Kong courts have to resort to common law principles in circumstances where they are requested to recognise foreign insolvency proceedings and grant assistance. The nature and scope of these principles have been the subject of extensive debate in common law jurisdictions. In Re CW Advanced Technologies Ltd [2018] HKCFI 1705, Harris J identified the uncertainties associated with the common law position in Hong Kong. These uncertainties include whether a Hong Kong court may recognise a Singapore moratorium granted to facilitate a scheme of arrangement and, if so, whether the court may grant recognition where Singapore (i.e., the foreign jurisdiction) is not the country of incorporation. Harris J also noted the ‘urgent need to enact a statutory cross‐border insolvency regime’. This article examines the scope of the common law powers in Hong Kong and seeks to clarify the possibility for members within a corporate group located outside Singapore, where the holding company has its centre of main interests in Singapore or is otherwise eligible to use the Singapore scheme regime, to obtain recognition and assistance in Hong Kong.
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    Settling on a national Indigenous Australian 'voice'
    Chesterman, J (WILEY, 2021-06)
    Abstract This article argues that the call for establishment of a national Indigenous ‘voice’ ought to be seen by the Australian government in historical context, primarily as a call for remediation for historical injustices, not just as an opportunity for improvement in the lives and governance of Indigenous Australians. Viewed this way, the call carries with it an imperative for government both to recognise the moral weight underpinning it and to be active in seeking to settle the matter, either by agreeing to the reform proposal or otherwise by negotiating an acceptable outcome. The article closes by considering possible ways in which settlement might occur.
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    Reconstituting the Contemporary Corporation through Ecologically Responsive Regulation
    Parker, C ; Haines, F (Thomson Reuters (Professional), 2022)
    Corporate governance and regulation comprise two legal frameworks that operate together from, respectively, the inside out of the corporation and the outside in, to shape business conduct. This article critically analyses two different ways in which corporate governance and business regulation intersect. We argue that both fall short of addressing the ecological and social harms generated by business. The first intersection combines shareholder primacy with domain specific regulation. The second combines a stakeholder model of corporate governance with responsive regulation. Yet, there are signs that a third “ecologically responsive” intersection may emerge to shape business practice in light of the ecological crises we currently face. We see potential for this approach in recent proposals to reform corporate governance to encourage purposive, problem-focused corporations together with greater responsiveness and multiple business forms. To achieve this potential, though, requires a radical re-conceptualisation of regulation towards an “ecologically responsive” approach.