Dispelling myths about conventions: ministerial advisers and parliamentary committees

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Abstract

There is a tension between a key principle underpinning liberal democratic governments and the associated political practice. Responsible government demands that the Executive is responsible to the Legislature. Governments, however, are generally inclined to evade or limit their accountability to Parliament wherever possible. In addition, ministerial advisers have thus far been excluded from the accountability framework of responsible government. This has led to an accountability deficit in terms of ministerial advisers appearing before parliamentary committees. Indeed, Ministers in the Australian Commonwealth and State of Victoria have claimed that there is a constitutional convention that ministerial advisers do not appear before parliamentary committees. This article challenges this claim and argues that there are no strong grounds based on precedent, reason, and the beliefs of political participants to conclude that there is a constitutional convention preventing ministerial advisers from appearing before parliamentary committees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-529
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • accountability
  • constitutional conventions
  • Ministerial advisers
  • ministerial staff
  • parliamentary committees

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