Prorogation as Partisan Political Tool: The Australian Experience- Dr. Gerard Horgan

Dr. Horgan’s current project on the ‘political’ use of prorogation has three goals: first, to identify Australian precedents analogous to a recent Canadian case; second, to identify the factors that conduce to the use of prorogation as a partisan political tool; third, to examine the Crown representatives’ actions in these cases, the rationales for those actions, and the reaction of the UK Colonial/Dominions Office to the representatives’ actions, in order to better establish the extent of representatives’ discretion regarding the reserve power to deny advice to prorogue a parliament.

The initial work on the state of New South Wales is largely complete, the results having appeared as: Prorogation as Partisan Political Tool: The New South Wales Experience; Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 6 (1) 2012: 161-94. The search for further cases in other Australian states has proceeded over the past eight months. Several of these have been identified and the details investigated, while for others the latter continues. Some initial comment on these cases was presented at the CPSA Annual Conference 2012 in June, when Dr. Horgan was invited to take part in the Roundtable entitled The Prerogative Powers of First Ministers. Two further papers resulting from the research project have been submitted for presentation at the APPSA Annual Conference 2012, to be held at St. Thomas University in September.

Dr. Horgan is currently (July-August 2012) on the research trip supported by the GISI research grant. The Colonial Office and Dominions Office collections of original correspondence with colonial/state Governors is being studied at the UK National Archives in London. The purpose is to determine these Offices’ reactions to decisions made by Governors regarding the prorogation of colonial/state parliaments, and thereby to gauge the extent of these Crown reprentatives’ discretion regarding such decisions. The initial results of this work will be incorporated in the presentations at the September APPSA Conference.