Constitutional Law and Parliament

The VGSO is uniquely situated to provide expert assistance to Victorian Government departments and agencies in matters raising constitutional issues.

We are able to draw on our significant corporate experience as constitutional advisers to Government, and our ongoing role representing Victoria in significant constitutional litigation, to provide high quality advice and assistance informed by history, current developments, and a whole-of-government perspective. We are the exclusive provider of constitutional law services to the Victorian government.

Constitutional litigation and judicial review

We act on behalf of the Victorian Government and its agencies in relation to litigation that raises constitutional issues. These include challenges to the validity of Victorian legislation, and also in matters raising complex questions of law or with whole of Victorian government issues.

Constitutional litigation has the potential to affect foundational aspects of Victoria's system of government, reaching far beyond the immediate issues in dispute. We act closely with the Solicitor-General, the Attorney-General's Office, and key stakeholder agencies in all constitutional litigation, to ensure Victoria's submissions align with whole of government constitutional policy interests.

The Attorney-General has a right to intervene, on behalf of Victoria, in any proceedings in Australia that raise constitutional issues under the Australian Constitution. We advise the Attorney-General on constitutional issues raised in new proceedings, and represent Victoria in significant cases.

Advice on constitutional issues in the development of policy and legislation

The Victorian and Australian Constitutions contain various protections, requirements and other limitations that can significantly affect the operation of Victorian laws and the lawfulness of government activity. We advise on possible constitutional risks in connection with the design of proposed new laws and regulations, including risks relating to:

  • restrictions on the freedom of political communication
  • interferences with judicial processes
  • duties of excise
  • inconsistency with Commonwealth laws.

For more information on the assistance we provide in developing legislation generally, see the Interpretation and development of legislation page.

Advice on the relationship between Parliament, the Executive, and the Judiciary

The relationship between the 3 arms of government in Victoria involves the complex interaction of constitutional texts, legal conventions, and historical practice and procedure. We draw on experience and expertise to provide advice on:

  • Government responses to Parliamentary orders for the production of documents and other things
  • Government interactions with the independent officers of Parliament (the Auditor-General, Ombudsman, and Electoral Commissioner)
  • the conferral of judicial functions on executive officers or bodies, and vice-versa.

For more information on advice in relation to the integrity functions of the Auditor-General and Ombudsman, see the Public Sector Governance and Integrity page.

Advice on public sector governance

We provide advice on the establishment, functions and powers of existing government bodies, and also advice on the legislative frameworks which govern the operations of such bodies. These include the Public Administration Act 2004 and the Financial Management Act 2004.

We have a whole of government perspective on the variety of government bodies that form part of the State. We draw on this perspective to provide expert advice regarding all aspects of public sector governance.