LAWS5378 Government Accountability—Law and Practice

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Over recent decades there has been growth in government and an increasing diversification and complexity in government service provision. There has also been, for the most part, a concomitant rise in the number (and reach) of accountability agencies, so much so that some commentators now talk of the emergence of a fourth branch of government, the ‘integrity branch', to sit alongside of the executive, legislature and judiciary. These accountability agencies have responsibility for overseeing, investigating and educating the public sector in relation to matters such as corruption, misconduct, good decision making, and avoiding conflicts of interest. Such agencies play a vital role. Governments make decisions on a daily basis that directly shape many aspects of individual and corporate existence. With such regulation comes the need for transparency, responsibility and accountability. In the words of former Commonwealth Ombudsman Professor John McMillan, "In short, the power of government is pervasive, and accountability is an indispensable check on how that power is exercised."
Students are able to (1) understand the 'integrity' framework of government and the role of relevant agencies—particularly mechanisms relating to government accountability, transparency, integrity and review, and arrangements in place for the prevention of maladministration, inefficient and ineffective policy design and delivery, and corruption; (2) understand the historical, political and social context for the development of the contemporary accountability framework; (3) explain the various models of government accountability and critically assess the effectiveness, costs and benefits of these models; (4) apply the law and theory learned to a range of case scenarios and explore possibilities for further development and reform of government accountability mechanisms; and (5) effectively locate and use key resources in the relevant areas of administrative law, including particularly the 'new' administrative law and the law underpinning government accountability.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) participation; (2) literature review; and (3) assignment. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a Juris Doctor student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course
Unit Coordinator(s)
Adjunct Professor Simon Young and Adjunct Professor Chris Field (WA Ombudsman)
Unit rules
Advisable prior study:
LAWS5102 Administrative Law
Contact hours
Teaching dates for this unit are 29-31 Jan and 3-4 Feb. Please refer to the timetable website for session times and venues. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.
Unit Outline
Non-standard teaching period [TS-N-1B-2020]
Creyke, R &
McMillan, J 2015,
Control of
Action: Text,
Cases and
Commentary, 4th
edn, LexisNexis
Chatswood, New
South Wales (or
later edition).
Bannister J,
Appleby, G,
Olijnyk, A &
Howe, J 2014,
Law, Cambridge
University Press,
Port Melbourne,
Victoria (or
Groves, M (ed)
2014, Modern
Law in Australia:
Concepts and
University Press,
Port Melbourne,
Lane, WB &
Young, S 2007,
law in Australia,
Thomson Reuters,
Sydney, New South
Wales (or later
R. and Head,
M. Douglas
and Jones's
, 7th
edn: Federation
Press 2014 (or
later edition)
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