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Why a separation of power in government? Its importance to constitutionalism

Speech delivered by Arthur Moses SC, President of the Law Council of Australia at the LAWASIA Constitutional & Rule of Law Conference, Malaysia, 4 October 2019.

"Our legal professions across Asia enjoy strong friendships, anchored in mutual respect for the rule of law and a shared commitment to promoting justice within and across our borders. Our professions have fought hard to instil central principles of democracy, dignity and accountability in our respective political and judicial systems. The challenges we faced have each been different.

But what we have in common is a deep commitment to natural justice and the rule of law. It seems inconceivable that a concept so important as the rule of law can be so little understood, and its meaning so little agreed upon. Yet all too often we see the term used, with little thought as to what it actually means.

There is widespread agreement that the rule of law means the law applies with equal measure to us all, regardless of fear or favour. That all are as entitled to its protection and to procedural fairness, as to the force of its rebuke. Institutional independence is therefore a natural requirement: not only independence of the parliament, but the executive and Judiciary, as well as the legal profession and the media.

In Australia, this is enshrined in our constitution through the separation of powers. There is, however, another facet of the rule of law that is equally important."

You can read the full speech below.

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