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Andrew Harding, in his excursus on ‘legal transplantation’, observed: ‘[W]e do live in a world of legal connectivity in which we share common problems which can only be addressed by a limited range of solutions which are unlikely not to have been tried before’. This prescient remark is apt in the context of the growing importance of the proportionality concept in the Australian public law arena. The proportionality concept attained particular prominence when the High Court of Australia found a freedom of political communication impliedly embedded in the Constitution. It was inevitable that with the establishment of such an implied fundamental constitutional guarantee, the High Court had to craft a principle to enable the saving or invalidation of legislation claimed to be in violation of the implied freedom.
Democratic countries, such as Australia, face the dilemma of preserving public and national security without sacrificing fundamental freedoms. In the context where the rule of law is an underlying assumption of the constitutional framework, Emergency Powers in Australia provides a succinct analysis of the sorts of emergency which have been experienced in Australia and an evaluation of the legal weapons available to the authorities to cope with these emergencies. It analyses the scope of the defence power to determine the constitutionality of federal legislation to deal with wartime crises and the 'war' on terrorism, the extent of the executive power and its relationship to the prerogative, the deployment of the defence forces in aid of the civil power, the statutory frameworks regulating the responses to civil unrest, and natural disasters. The role of the courts when faced with challenges to the invocation of emergency powers is explained and analysed.