Melbourne Law School - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 333
Decentralisation, Law, and the Failure of Palm Oil Licensing
This thesis seeks to understand why the Indonesian central government has been unable to ensure local government compliance with the national laws and regulations that govern the licensing of palm oil plantations. Using a socio-legal methodology, it finds that the central government’s failures are rooted in a poor legal framework, a lack of supportive institutions, and the absence of political will. These findings have implications for decentralisation, the sustainability of palm oil, and the management of natural resources in Indonesia. Theoretically, decentralisation of government is seen as the key to improve democracy, security, and development, as it promises to bring government ‘closer' to the public. Embedded in this concept is a more inclusive decision-making process. Thus, in the context of natural resources management, decentralisation is said to improve fairness in benefit distribution as well as the sustainability of natural resources. Yet, almost 20 years after decentralisation began, the management of natural resources has still not improved, as the proliferation of irregular palm oil licenses demonstrates. Much research has tried to explain why the promises of decentralisation have not fully materialised in Indonesia, and most look at local level actors. However, in a unitary state like Indonesia, the central government is the ultimate expression of sovereign power responsible for governmental affairs. The few scholars who have investigated the central government’s role usually argue that it has been reluctant to let go power, and that is why problems have dogged decentralisation. While that is largely true in some other natural resources sectors, such as forestry, this research has only limited application to the palm oil industry. As this thesis shows, the Ministry of Agriculture, the portfolio ministry, does not try to assert its power over local governments, and, in fact, remains inactive in the face of problematic licensing. Further, the central government does not try to take ‘advantage’ of problematic palm oil licensing by withdrawing the licensing power from local governments, as it has in other sectors, such as mining and forestry. In short, the existing scholarship does not explain the nature of the central government’s role in managing natural resources, particularly palm oil. My research finds that while the central government has an important constitutional role, there are at least three interrelated factors that hamper optimal implementation of its role in the decentralisation of palm oil licensing. Legally, the regulatory framework for its role has been very weak, particularly monitoring and oversight of local government licensing powers. This is worsened by the nature of the sectoral approach to natural resource management in Indonesia, which is characterised by vague and conflicting legal frameworks. Institutionally, the ministry of agriculture has not developed an appropriate structure for monitoring and overseeing palm oil licensing, and as a result, there is no national database of palm oil licenses. The third factor, which underlies the other two, is the absence of political will to ensure palm oil licensing is sustainable.
Indonesia as a weak state? Bank restructuring after the Asian Financial Crisis
This thesis presents an original case study of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), which was established to manage virtually all interventions into Indonesia’s banking system during the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis. Although a seminal moment in Indonesia’s economic history, there is limited scholarship and even less popular understanding about the crisis and IBRA’s work to overcome it. This thesis is interested in how the state goes about defining, legitimising, and executing its responsibilities. Often, the state, or, more accurately, its actors and organisations, seems to work at cross-purposes to its ostensible policy objectives. Indeed, sometimes the state becomes more a site for different groups or actors to contest these actions. Examined closely, these contests reveal much about the nature of power in a society. To conceptualise these tensions, this thesis uses the analytical framework of a ‘weak state’, at the centre of which is understanding of the institutional factors that make some states less effective. This thesis surveys sociology, political economy, and economics literatures to synthesise its own definition of a weak state, that is, a state reliant on informal, negotiated, and ad hoc strategies to accomplish its objectives. Frequently these strategies are at odds with the established legal or procedural tools at its disposal. They are, as the thesis shows, historically and institutionally embedded. The thesis applies the weak state premise through its original research on IBRA. This analysis uses data collected through interviews and audits of the agency. In particular, the thesis closely examines IBRA’s work to conclude contracts, known as Shareholder Settlement Agreements, with two owners of major private banks it took over during the crisis. These contracts were ‘out of court settlements’ designed to trade legal release for the bank owners for the transfer of assets that could be quickly sold to recover part of the government’s spending on the rescue. This analysis shows how despite initial aspirations, IBRA made most progress within the modalities of a weak state, including negotiated and ad hoc strategies. Indeed, the very essence of this work and the actual procedures used to accomplish these settlements were highly informal. Moreover, IBRA’s progress generated considerable controversy and opposition within the state. This continues to have implications today, as evidenced through the corruption conviction – and unprecedented acquittal – of former IBRA Chairman Syafruddin Temenggung for actions related to one of the Shareholder Settlement Agreements. Ultimately, as the thesis shows, it was not only IBRA’s strategies that were highly contested, but even the state’s attempts to adhere to a transparent and legal approach in dealing with private bank owners. Ultimately, although IBRA recovered but a fraction of the funds spent rescuing private banks – a finding confirmed by this research – the thesis challenges whether this really was a poor outcome in light of the institutional problems confronting the agency.
The state of knowledge and knowledges of the state in Pakistan
The subject matter of this thesis is the Pakistani state in its early years of founding. A broad ranging study of the conditions and discourses that organized the offices of the state, offices inherited and or formally authorized by an outgoing colonial power, has mostly been absent across studies that have found a great deal of other matter to investigate in reference to the Pakistani state and nation. In fact, as attention is often directed at a state that operates above and below as well as through the law in a manner that elides the imposition of limits on it’s powers, this lacunae is significant. Understanding the quality of interaction between branches of government or between the state and its citizenry requires a a slowing down of analysis to take account of these founding conditions; specifically, that representative government was chimerical at best and administrative office holders and members of the high executive acted with considerable latitude in a context of crisis and against ever present fears of national disintegration. In this thesis I argue from the premise that the actualization of governmental order simultaneous to the formal announcement of founding is a central aspect of post-colonial state formation. Furthermore, the priority of sovereignty and the challenges posed to its specific articulation make visible the logics and techniques to mark a dominant site of power in the new state. While it is tempting to see the primacy accorded to administrative offices thereafter merely as a hangover of colonial rule, by which the processes and hence the possibilities of popular sovereignty are denatured, it is my argument that more complicated operations were at play at this moment. To develop this argument I have taken four sites at which definite and deliberate choices were made to give shape to the administrative state. These are: the appropriation of colonial governmental forms and technologies; the promotion of aspirations related to a dominant Muslim nationalism and the quelling of other ideological programs; the alignment of territory and population to enable a concurrence between them in reference to identity and ideology; and the management of Pakistan’s relations with other states to bolster the powers of certain offices and officeholders. These sites enter into fields of operations by which early office holders, as evidenced by a record of their deliberations on a range of issues, engineer a novel governmental order The larger part of this thesis is focused on the early years after 1947 and situates a record of cabinet and executive documents from this time in a broader history of local and global events. This record of speeches, meetings, exchange of memo’s and correspondence traverses a vast field of governmental activity including economic and defense planning, foreign affairs, legislative drafting and relations with provinces. In addition, the presence of documents pertaining to private individuals, including intelligence files shared between governmental departments shows how coercive operations upon persons and groupings complemented the innovation and emergence of more diffuse governmental means. Altogether, the governmental operations within these sites are inter-related and emphasize practices of government in relation to the establishment of the state as an entity separate from nation, in the elaboration of a paradigmatic sense of internal security and in the practices of border-marking for the emergent state.
International Law Applicable to the Use of Nanomaterials in War
This thesis examines existing international law applicable to the use of nanomaterials during war. Although much has been written about the regulation of nanotechnology per se over the past decade, very little has been written about the regulation of individual ‘means or methods of warfare’ containing nanomaterials. This thesis analyses applicable international law by reference to three specific ‘means or methods of warfare’ that utilise the properties of nanomaterials, namely thermobaric weapons with nanomaterials, optogenetics and genetic modification. A full review of the legality of each use of nanomaterials under international law is considered, as would be required by Article 36 of Additional Protocol I. On the basis of this analysis, it is concluded that international law applies to the use of nanomaterials in war. By carefully examining the applicability of international law to these three examples of specific uses of nanomaterials at differing stages of use or development, it becomes clear that there is ample room for interpretation of the existing law to comprehend and include new technologies harnessing the properties of nanomaterials. In order for international law to function to the fullest, States should always conduct Article 36 reviews when any ‘means or methods’ of war include nanomaterials. Moreover, by conducting Article 36 reviews, States will generate commentaries and interpretations to support further reviews of all uses of nanomaterials to be used in war. Supplementary to Article 36 reviews, this thesis recommends that States strengthen existing law by including nanomaterials in official statements and expert advice provided to the treaty advisory bodies. Additionally, in some areas, such as international environmental law, new treaties are required to safeguard against the particular properties and unknown long-term health effects of nanomaterials. This research has relevance not only for future ‘means or methods of warfare’ including nanomaterials, but also for the complexity and breadth of law that should be considered for legal review prior to the use of any new and emerging technology or technologies in war or in peace.
Making the world safe for investment: the protection of foreign property 1922-1959
This thesis studies the creation of the field of international investment law from 1922 to 1959. It investigates how the building blocks for an international legal regime for the protection of foreign private property came into being, understanding investment law as a practice, a way of doing things and attaching meaning to them, rather than as a conceptual framework. This approach leads to a shift in focus on two levels. First, the thesis studies the period before the contemporary instruments governing the field, bilateral investment treaties and the ICSID Convention, came into being. Second, the shift leads to a focus on the formation of rules, rather than their application. Sharpening the focus on what I argue are the events, which background what is traditionally taken to be the origin of the field, the thesis identifies the way particular preferences were stabilised into apparent necessities through the development of novel legal doctrine. A key site of the analysis is the assertion of jurisdictional authority over concession agreements, contracts for large-scale infrastructure projects and natural resource exploitation, in particular investor state arbitrations and attempts at codification. While concession agreements in the 1920s were considered exclusively a matter of domestic law, in the 1950s a powerful community of scholars and practitioners argued that they should fall under an international legal order and be called ‘economic development agreements’. This internationalisation was a claim for the universality of ideas propagating private property and the sanctity of contract, and a rejection of the authority of socialist and anti-colonial policies to redistributive ends. Western industry, former imperial governments, and liberal thinkers of law and of economics successfully claimed the international sphere for building a new legal order. The authority for such an international legal regime was based on a temporalisation of difference that relied on concepts like ‘civilisation’ and development to downgrade challenges to the rules of property protection by locating such challenges in the past. This was a process of self-authorisation through legal practice and academic writing, laying the groundwork for the later emergence of the regime of international investment law. The aim of this thesis is to pluralise understandings of legality in international investment law by drawing out the way that the ‘universal’ primacy of rights of property protection, which underpins the field today, emerged historically from a particular view of the world, and continues to privilege the interests associated with that world view.
The Privilege against Self-Incrimination and the Compelled Production of a Password
Over the past decade, the use of encryption to protect electronic devices, including smartphones and computers, has become commonplace. Most people use encryption daily, often unwittingly. This has consequences for law enforcement, which increasingly finds itself unable to access data on encrypted devices, even where a warrant has been obtained to search that device. A common response to this problem is for law enforcement officials to seek an order compelling a suspect in a criminal investigation to produce the password to the encrypted device. In response, suspects have argued that providing that information would infringe the privilege against self-incrimination as it might reveal incriminating information. This thesis considers whether the privilege against self-incrimination can prevent the granting of an order to produce the password. It does so by asking whether an order compelling the production of a password – what this thesis terms a compelled production order – falls within the scope of the privilege; by examining how Australia’s understanding of the scope of the privilege compares to that adopted by courts in Canada, England and the United States; and by assessing how Australia, and the three comparator jurisdictions, have addressed this issue. This thesis adopts a doctrinal approach. It identifies how courts in the four jurisdictions have previously established the boundaries of the privilege when considering related cases, being cases that are concerned with similar issues to compelled production order cases. Such cases include those involving orders for bodily samples and single question reporting obligations such as those imposed on motor vehicle drives. Once the scope of the privilege is identified through those related cases, and the reasoning behind those decisions analysed, the thesis considers whether compelled production orders fall within that scope and if they have been resolved in a manner consistent with those earlier cases. This thesis does not, therefore, engage with the various proposed rationales for the privilege but instead has a more pragmatic focus. Recently, alternative means of accessing encrypted data, such as hacking powers for law enforcement and the power to compel a telecommunications company to remove encryption from their products, have received growing attention. In England and Australia, such alternative encryption workarounds are, like compelled production orders, authorised by statute. Those statutory provisions, however, require that the order sought, be it a compelled production order or one authorising the use of an alternative encryption workaround, must be proportionate – a requirement that demands that the measure used is the least intrusive of the effective means available. This creates a symbiotic relationship between compelled production orders and the alternative encryption workarounds, one that has consequences for the scope of the privilege. This thesis finds that while compelled production orders in Australia may fall outside the scope of the privilege in instances where the privilege has been abrogated, the use of a proportionality requirement in the relevant statutes means that the scope of the privilege has a fluid form and will contract or expand depending on the availability of an alternative encryption workaround.
A Soldier By Any Other Name: a reappraisal of the "Citizen in Uniform' in light Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903 (Cth)
Use of the military domestically, whilst aiding the civil authority, has been subject to sporadic commentary due to its limited use in Australia. With the statutory reforms in 2019, it is likely that the Australian Defence Force will increasingly be used. This thesis canvasses the citizen in uniform doctrine, and asks whether it is still appropriate in light of the powers and circumstances surrounding Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903. Finding that it is no longer appropriate, and that an extra-legal status should exist, the thesis then addresses the question of jurisdiction for prosecutions.
Mental Health Law: Abolish or Reform?
As mental health law involves state-sanctioned coercion, and mental health care has a history of neglect and abuse, it has always been controversial. But, it is only since the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008 that the call for the abolition of mental health law, particularly involuntary detention in hospital and psychiatric treatment, has started to gain real momentum. Since then certain scholars, international human rights bodies and disability and human rights advocates (whom I call abolitionists) have been increasingly critical of mental health law on the grounds that it is discriminatory and an unjustified deprivation of liberty and bodily integrity. Instead, abolitionists argue that persons with mental impairment should be offered support to make their own decisions and where that is not possible, after substantial efforts have been made, decisions should be made by a supporter or facilitator based on the best interpretation of the persons will and preferences, rather than in a person’s objective medical best interests. However, the text of the CRPD does not explicitly ban mental health law or substitute decision-making because States Parties would not agree to this during the CRPD negotiations, and many States Parties, such as Australia and Canada have given interpretive declarations to that effect. Abolitionists nonetheless insist that the CRPD ought to be interpreted in a way that requires the abolition of mental health law and continue to criticise States Parties for retaining mental health law, even though many States Parties have reviewed and reformed, or are in the process of reviewing or reforming their mental health law. Against this contentious background, my thesis explores the question of whether mental health law should be abolished or reformed. I do so by using the CRPD and international human rights law as my conceptual framework, including the interactive social model of disability. Rather than take a purely doctrinal approach, I have also adopted a socio-legal methodology which aims to understand the development of mental health law and the call for the abolition of mental health law within its socio-historical context drawing on theoretical and empirical research. As part of my analysis, I have developed what I call the ‘interpretive compass’ which explores the scope and meaning of inherent dignity, equality, and participation which are core human rights concepts underpinning the CRPD. I then present a more moderate interpretation of the CRPD which supports significant legal, systemic and social reform, rather than the abolition of mental health law. Specifically, it is my thesis that mental health law should not be abolished but be reformed by decreasing coercion and increasing social support to persons with mental impairments to maximise their dignity (including autonomy), equality and participation in accordance with the overall object and purpose of the CRPD. I also use the ‘interpretive compass’ to analyse three models of mental health law reform: (1) the Abolition with Support, (2) Mental Capacity with Support, and (3) Support Except Where there is Harm models. Of these, I argue that the Mental Capacity with Support model is presently the most consistent with the interpretive compass of the CRPD.
A Conduct of Conversations: Sex Worker Activists, Legal Academics and Indian Feminist Jurisprudence
This thesis demonstrates that Indian feminist jurisprudence is a diverse field that is not solely the domain of legal academics, but is developed in relationship with non-lawyer activists. In doing so, it argues that diverse experiences of mutual law–life relations, at varied locations, contribute to the productions of a field of feminist jurisprudence in contemporary post-colonial India. The thesis grounds its argument by conducting conversations with two sets of interlocutors— legal academics Upendra Baxi and Ratna Kapur; and sex worker activist groups Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) and Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP). It reads a select set of texts authored by the sex workers’ collectives and the legal academics and, to engage with these materials, it develops a localised practise of adda—an activity of reciprocal conversations—as a scholarly methodology. Adda refers to the everyday action or activity of engaging in reciprocal conversations (as verb), and to a meeting place (as noun). The thesis adapts and shapes the practice of adda as a living act and activity of reading and interpreting texts in reciprocal conversations with the authors, for the specific purpose of situating and relating their experiences of life and law. The focus of the method and argument of this thesis lies in illuminating how a field of Indian feminist jurisprudence is experienced and produced as a body of knowledge, through reciprocal relations. In this regard, both the argument and the method of the thesis are of value. The demonstration of the argument helps to know about the conscious experiences of mutual law–life relations, which, although significant for understanding how law is lived in post-colonial India, have remained undocumented in scholarly projects of Indian feminist jurisprudence. Adda as a method works against a structural disparity that exists in the field of intellectual labour in India with respect to who can be counted as knowledgeable or experienced in law, and by speaking from where. Adda works to render the practice of research as a creative and an imaginative exercise of conducting conversations in a manner that enables reciprocal ties with, and amongst, the interlocutors in the thesis, who are disparately located both socially and in terms of the field of legal knowledge production per se.
Crown copyright ownership in Australia: Curing an incomplete reform process?
This thesis concerns itself with the ownership of copyright by the executive government of Australia. There are two sources of copyright ownership under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). These are s 8A of the Act, which preserves the copyright prerogative, and Part VII of the Act, which houses a series of ownership and usage rights in favour of the Crown. This thesis argues that the reform process around government copyright in Australia is incomplete and can only be adequately completed by following a series of steps. Namely; (i) determining that the Crown under Part VII of the Copyright Act refers only to the employees, agents and entities of the executive government and amending the Act so that the Crown has no recourse to Part VII where it acts in trade or commerce; (ii) addressing the interpretive issues around ss 176-179 of the Act and contemplating minor amendments therein; (iii) adding a good faith requirement to s 176-178 so as to safeguard the best interests of those who deal with the Crown; (iv) clarifying the exact nature of the copyright prerogative that is preserved under s 8A of the Act; (v) assessing whether the use of Creative Commons licences is sound practice in light of their suggested contractual nature; (vi) determining whether there is in fact a valid theory under which Creative Commons licence that are offered online could form the basis of a contract; (vii) creating a modest ownership scheme in favour of the Crown with regard to works of artificial intelligence. The adoption of these measure would result in a state of Crown copyright in Australia that is fair, robust, and useful and strategic.
The Judicial System and Demographic Change: Preparing for Australia’s Population Futures
In the late 1960s, an explosion in global population and the attendant threat of widespread famine spawned a new field of legal scholarship, known as ‘population law’. Its central concern was to use the law as an instrument of public policy in tempering population growth by reducing fertility. However, after a brief flowering—and as global rates of population growth began to slow under the impact of the ‘demographic transition’—academic interest in population law began to wither. This thesis seeks to reinvigorate this field of socio-legal inquiry by reinvestigating the relationship between law and demography. But, in contrast to the pioneering scholarship, this study turns in a novel direction by examining how population change can affect the legal system, rather than the converse. Specifically, the thesis analyses the impact of demographic change on the judicial system, with a geographic focus on Australian courts. Although governments increasingly recognise that demography is a potent force in shaping the political, social, and economic life of nations, legal policy has been slow to respond to the challenges posed by demographic change. Addressing this gap, the central questions of the thesis are: (a) how does demographic change impact on Australia’s judicial system; and (b) how should Australia’s judicial system adapt to embody a greater preparedness for the demographic changes that lie ahead? The first is a positive inquiry that seeks to ascertain verifiable truths about the real world; the second is a normative inquiry based on judgments about what ought to be. Analysis of the research questions proceeds by way of four case studies, which together form a collective case study. They examine the impact of: (i) declining mortality on models of judicial tenure; (ii) population ageing on judicial pensions; (iii) population redistribution on the work of lower courts; and (iv) population composition on judicial diversity. The case studies have been chosen for the way they reveal the impact of different demographic attributes (population growth, components of change, composition, and spatial distribution); and for their relevance to core values of the judicial system (judicial independence, access to justice, quality of justice, public trust, and cost effectiveness). Answering the normative inquiry, the thesis makes recommendations for reform in order to enhance the population preparedness of the judicial system. The reforms include: extending the mandatory retirement age for judicial officers, in conjunction with regular capacity assessment; recalibrating the parameters of the judicial pension schemes to make them more cost effective; allocating judges and magistrates to appropriate geographic locations to meet the changing demand that arises from spatial redistribution of the population; and closing the ‘diversity deficits’ between the composition of the judiciary and the composition of an increasingly heterogeneous population. In advancing the case for a renaissance of ‘population law’, the thesis reinforces the need for pluralism in the modalities of change, and the desirability of accommodating differences across the Australian judicial system. Yet reform is needed if the core values of the judicial system are to be maintained in the face of ineluctable forces of demographic change.
When data flows across borders: Aligning international trade law with internet policy objectives
With the rapid digitalisation of the economy, cross-border data flows have become essential for the functioning of different sectors of the economy, including the digital services industry. However, governments often restrict cross-border flows through various laws, regulations, policies and administrative measures (or ‘data-restrictive measures’) to achieve internet-related policy objectives such as regulating online content, protecting online privacy of internet users, and cybersecurity protection. These measures typically interfere with the architecture of the internet and the technical protocols/designs of digital services, resulting in economically and technologically inefficient outcomes. Further, as data-restrictive measures constrain cross-border supply of digital services, they constitute trade barriers, and therefore may violate provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (‘GATS’) of the World Trade Organization (‘WTO’). This thesis investigates how GATS applies to data-restrictive measures and whether its rules can balance trade and internet policy objectives. It first highlights the complementary relationship of the three fundamental principles of internet governance applicable to cross-border data flows, namely internet openness, privacy and security. It then proposes a theoretical framework whereby GATS can be aligned with these three principles to support both an open and predictable framework for digital trade and robust internet policies. The thesis applies this framework to three common types of data-restrictive measures, namely online content regulation measures, privacy-related data-restrictive measures, and cybersecurity-related data-restrictive measures. This thesis finds that GATS can be thoughtfully applied and interpreted to align with principles of internet openness, privacy and security. For example, commitments of Members in their GATS Schedules of Commitments can be interpreted in a technologically neutral manner to facilitate both trade liberalisation and internet openness. Further, GATS obligations on non-discrimination, domestic regulation and market access (subject to Members’ relevant commitments and exemptions) generally facilitate an open market for cross-border data flows, thereby supporting internet openness. Finally, under GATS exceptions, Panels can distinguish protectionist data-restrictive measures disguised as cybersecurity/privacy/content regulation measures from measures genuinely necessary to achieve these objectives. To conduct a holistic assessment of data-restrictive measures under GATS, Panels should use both legal and technical evidence, including relying on internet technical and policy expertise. However, the extent to which GATS aligns with the principles of internet openness, privacy and security is constrained by the lack of multilateral consensus on internet policy issues and the somewhat outdated architecture of GATS. Therefore, in addition to interpreting existing GATS provisions more meaningfully, this thesis proposes a multi-pronged approach to further strengthen alignment of GATS with internet openness, privacy and security. This approach requires: meaningful use of GATS provisions on transparency and mutual recognition; introducing reforms in WTO law to incorporate relevant disciplines on cross-border data flows; and exploring options outside traditional multilateral mechanisms including developing a non-binding WTO declaration on data flows and facilitating stronger regulatory cooperation on data governance in relevant international/transnational institutions. This thesis concludes that although international trade agreements such as GATS cannot resolve all challenges pertaining to data flows, they can and should play a more proactive role in balancing trade and internet policy objectives.