The Federation Press

The Law of Politics

Elections, Parties and Money in Australia


This book is the first dedicated monograph on the law on democratic politics in Australia. It synthesises the law on elections, with a central focus on political parties, parliamentary elections and referenda at Federal and State levels.

It unearths the rules that apply to elections and referenda, campaigning and political broadcasting, and political parties and money. It explains them in their political context and, while it draws on some local government case law, its focus is parliamentary politics. The longest chapter of the book is devoted to the role of courts in overseeing elections, particularly the jurisdiction of petitioning or challenging election outcomes.

Orr uses all five sources of electoral law, its development, expression and interpretation, in Australia: constitutions; courts and tribunals; legislation; parliamentary committees; and electoral commissions. He documents the extraordinary detail of the legislation (there has to be a pencil in each electoral booth!) and the array of obscure cases the law has given rise to.

Supported under a grant from The Law Foundation of South Australia.


At the heart of any democratic system lie the rules of engagement, the laws that define the who, how, where and when of elections. The law can also strengthen democracy by empowering the weak and circumscribing the powerful. From the basics of elections to the unresolved problems of regulating parties and money, this book sets out the legal framework of politics in Australia. For a country with a long and proud history of open democracy and electoral experimentation, the only surprise is that until now Australia has not had a basic text on the law of politics. - Antony Green, Election Analyst, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Graeme Orr’s new treatise on Australian electoral law is most welcome and it is likely to be the indispensable reference for decades to come. But it is far more than a reference. Wisdom, common sense, and wit are present on almost every page, together with Orr’s acute analysis and encyclopaedic knowledge of the sources. I had high expectations and Orr exceeded them. - Daniel H Lowenstein, Emeritus Professor UCLA Law School

Comprehensive, insightful and clear, this is undoubtedly the best book yet written on the law of politics in Australia. Not surprisingly, it comes from the nation’s leading authority on electoral law. - Professor George Williams, University of New South Wales

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Colin Hughes

Defining the Law of Politics: Values, Games and Rituals
Mapping Parliaments and Weighting Votes
The Franchise
Enrolment and the Roll
Initiating an Election
Political Party Regulation
Political Broadcasting
How We Vote
Judging Elections: The Role of the Courts in Electoral Practice
Political Money
Referenda and Direct Democracy

Table of Cases / Table of Statutes / Index / Bibliography

Of interest...