The Universal Franchise: the Protection of Voting Rights Under the Australian Constitution


This thesis proposes to examine voting rights under the Australian Constitution and, in particular, to consider the extent to which the universal franchise is constitutionally protected.  The research will trace the historical development of voting rights in Australia (from the time of Federation through to the present) and will consider recent High Court decisions on the subject, focusing particularly on Roach v Electoral Commissioner and Rowe v Electoral Commissioner

The thesis will examine the current position with regards to any constitutional protection of voting rights in Australia, and will evaluate the criticisms that the recent Roach and Rowe decisions are expansive decisions that have undermined parliamentary sovereignty by moving beyond the original conceptions of voting rights that the drafters intended to enshrine in the Constitution.


Lorraine is a PhD candidate at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland. Lorraine has been a law lecturer at Murdoch University since 2010.  She currently lectures in Constitutional Law and International Human Rights Law, and is also the Director of the Moot Program.  Before joining Murdoch University Lorraine worked as a State Prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (WA) and at the High Court of Australia as the Legal Research Officer and then as an Associate to The Hon. Justice J D Heydon. 

In 2009 she was selected as a Singapura Scholar with the NYU@NUS program and was awarded a dual LL.M from New York University and the National University of Singapore.  Lorraine’s PhD examines voting rights under the Australian Constitution and the extent to which the universal franchise is constitutionally protected. 

In addition to constitutional law, Lorraine’s research interests include criminal law, international criminal law and public international law.