Campbell Duncan has worked as an international consultant in 20 countries over the past two decades. He has worked in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Bhutan, Cambodia, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Lesotho, Mongolia, Pakistan, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Tonga, UAE (Dubai), Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
Campbell’s international project work has included policy development, law reform, institutional strengthening and professional skill development. He has prepared reports, drafted legislation, conducted stakeholder consultation (individual interviews, small group discussions, seminars and workshops) and trained administrators. Sectoral areas have included: land use planning, land acquisition and resettlement, regulation of roads infrastructure and road traffic, judicial administration, legislative drafting, building control, decentralisation and local government.
The three phases of consultation
The development of new legislation often proceeds through three phases - collection of information, preparation of proposals and, thirdly, development of consensus. This third phase often involves a workshop with stakeholders. To the left is a photograph of Campbell Duncan at a recent workshop in Cambodia (September 2018). With him, also striding forth with a cup of tea, is Gordon Chakaodza, Head of Vicroads International.
Governance and the rule of law
An issue of great importance in public sector governance is the alignment of administrative practice with applicable regulatory requirements. Essentially, this is a question of the rule of law. Several factors operate to cause misalignment, including:
the difficulty of changing laws and the legislative instruments made under them. This can be the result of limited skills within the sectoral agency or the complication caused by division of responsibilities between agencies;
lengthy time frames. This is particularly a factor when amendment to primary legislation (an Act, Ordnance or Law made by the Parliament) is necessary. In practice many agencies prefer to devise work-arounds in which decisions are made on the basis of strained interpretation of laws, in disregard of laws, or in reliance on lower-level legislative instruments (regulations, guidelines and directives) which are themselves of doubtful legal validity;
lack of administrative and political will bring laws into alignment with good administration. Examples of this are excessively harsh penalties and regulatory requirements which are unnecessary and selectively enforced. Legislative over-reach of this type produces, over time, a tangle of legal requirements which are opaque and oppressive, and which bring the legal system - and public administration - into disrepute.
Functions of legislation
Legal systems vary, but there are also similarities. This is especially true for legislation. In general, Acts (or “laws”) are made by Parliament. These are implemented by the executive government, which often is given power to make secondary legislation such as regulations or rules.
It is possible, therefore, to generalise about the functions of legislation. We have done so! See our Newsletter on this subject. It is based on a paper presented by Campbell Duncan to a conference of Australian and Pacific legislative drafters in 2018.