Teaching Law

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Queensland to reintroduce gendered statutory language

On 19 March, the Queensland Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, introduced the Crime and Misconduct and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 to Parliament. The Bill is designed to respond to two inquiries into the working of Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission. The Bill has been roundly criticised - not least by Tony Fitzgerald QC, who has described it as 'a gross abuse of power'.

In this post however, I will examine the legitimacy of a lower profile change proposed by the Bill: the renaming of the head of the CMC from 'chairperson' to 'chairman'. See eg clause 35:
35 Amendment of s 224 (Qualifications for appointment as the chairperson)
(1) Section 224, heading, ‘as the chairperson’—
omit, insert
chairman and deputy chairman
(2) Section 224, ‘chairperson if’—
omit, insert
chairman or deputy chairman if

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Women's Property

The Married Women's Property Acts made a big change...but women's property remains an exception*

I have been doing some deep reflection on the progress of my thesis. I have concluded that my thesis question seems to have suffered a little from 'drift' away from my initial goal, to something that incorporated it but was perhaps a little different.

In my last iteration, I was looking at the doctrinal incoherence of constructive trusts... Indeed I was immersed in the intricacies of why across four common law jurisdictions (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England) the law of trusts was uniform in recognising the 'intimate partner' constructive trust - and so a means of recognising women's separate property - but so diverse in the doctrine harnessed to deal with the 'problem' of women's separate property.

I've spent this last few weeks going back to basics. What was I really trying to show? My (bigger than PhD) idea is that the notion of property is itself inappropriate to deal with contemporary issues. I think property theory, in its liberal market mould, is unsuitable for our contemporary culture (copyright), for culture in its wider sense (first nations/Indigenous peoples' customary 'title') and it is most certainly unsuitable to deal with the huge issue of the environment, including of course, climate change. My PhD thesis is about the gendered nature of property and how it upholds the economic dependence of married women (married in a legal and de facto sense).

In my view, all property does is support the creation of a new market based on the idea of atomised, separated, individuals who are 'rational profit maximisers' and are in competition and unconnected with anyone else.

I'm not anti-capitalism - I agree that markets have created the circumstances for improvement in people's lives. But there must be a balance to the greed that accompanies unaccountable, unrelated, disembodied beings who exist in the eyes of the law (and economic theory).

So I have returned, in my thesis, to the roots of the question that first engaged me. I ask: is property gendered?

Here is a prezi that embodies my present thinking about how this argument might run. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

*image from https://ontariorealestatesource.wordpress.com/tag/women/