Professor Joo-Cheong Tham

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Joo-Cheong Tham is a Professor at Melbourne Law School with expertise in labour law and public law. His labour law research focusses on the regulation of precarious work. Joo-Cheong’s doctoral thesis examined the legal precariousness of casual employment and he has a significant body of work on migrant labour; he has also researched labour protection under trade agreements. His public law research centres upon law and democracy with a particular emphasis on the role of money in politics. Joo-Cheong has also undertaken considerable research into counter-terrorism laws. Since the 2019 student climate strikes, Joo-Cheong has increasingly orientated his research towards the climate crisis.

Joo-Cheong’s scholarly publications include his books on Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can’t Afford (2010, UNSW Press); Electoral Democracy: Australian Prospects (2011, MUP); The Funding of Political Parties: Where Now? (2012, Routledge); Democracy, Social Justice and the Role of Trade Unions (2021, Anthem Press) and Global Labor Migrations: New Directions (2022, University of Illinois Press). He has also led two major reports for International IDEA, Climate Change and Democracy: Insights from Asia and the Pacific (2023) and Digital Campaigning and Political Finance in the Asia and the Pacific Region: A New Age for an Old Problem (2022).

Joo-Cheong’s research has been published in the media including The Age, Australian Financial Review, Canberra Times, The Conversation, The Guardian, Herald Sun and Sydney Morning Herald. Joo-Cheong regularly speaks at public forums and has presented lectures at the Commonwealth, South Australian and Victorian Parliaments. He has given evidence to parliamentary inquiries into labour migration, terrorism laws and political finance laws; and written key reports for the New South Wales Electoral Commission and the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption on the regulation of political finance and lobbying.

Joo-Cheong is presently working on an article on zero-hours work and a report for International IDEA on digital campaigning resources and democracy. He is also working on a book proposal on labour law, the climate crisis and democratic solidarity.

Joo-Cheong is one of the Law School’s Graduate Research Co-ordinators. He is the National Tertiary Education Union’s Victorian Assistant Secretary (Academic Staff) and an inaugural Director of the Centre for Public Integrity. From 2012 to 2023, Joo-Cheong was the inaugural Director of the Electoral Regulation Research Network, an initiative sponsored by the New South Wales Electoral Commission, Victorian Electoral Commission and the Melbourne Law School, to foster exchange and discussion amongst academics, electoral commissions and other interested groups on research relating to electoral regulation. Joo-Cheong has also been the Deputy Chair of the Migrant Workers Centre

Joo-Cheong graduated from the University of Melbourne with a first class honours degree in law and has a Master of Laws and Doctorate of Law from the same university. He has taught at the law schools of Victoria University and La Trobe University. Joo-Cheong has held a number of visiting fellowships internationally including a fellowship under the Genest Global Faculty, Osgoode Hall Law School; a British Academy Visiting Fellowship at the Law School, King's College, University of London; the Rydon Fellowship for Australian Politics and History at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College, University of London; and an Australian Bicentennial Fellowship.

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