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 into 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. He has also undertaken considerable research into counter-terrorism laws.
Joo-Cheong has over 50 scholarly publications including his books on Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can’t Afford (2010, UNSW Press); Electoral Democracy: Australian Prospects (2011, MUP); and The Funding of Political Parties: Where Now? (2012, Routledge). His most recent book is a collection co-edited with Caroline Kelly on Democracy, Social Justice and the Role of Trade Unions (2021, Anthem Press). In 2022, a book he co-edited on Global Labor Migrations: New Directors will be published by the University of Illinois Press.
Joo-Cheong’s research has also been published in the media with more than 60 opinion pieces published including in The Age, Australian Financial Review, 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 also given evidence to parliamentary inquiries into labour migration, terrorism laws and political finance laws; and has 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 a report for the European Trade Union Institute on making labour clauses in trade agreements more effective. He has two current projects on the Asia-Pacific region with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA): one on digital campaigning and political finance; and another on democracy and the climate crisis. Joo-Cheong is also researching the role of labour law in the climate crisis.
In 2012, Joo-Cheong became the inaugural Director of the Electoral Regulation Research Network. The Network - an initiative sponsored by the New South Wales Electoral Commission, Victorian Electoral Commission and the Melbourne Law School - aims to to foster exchange and discussion amongst academics, electoral commissions and other interested groups on research relating to electoral regulation. Its key activities include the holding of regular seminars and workshops, and the publication of biannual newsletters and research working papers.
Joo-Cheong is the Deputy Chair of the Migrant Workers Centre and an inaugural Director of the Centre for Public Integrity. He is also a National Councillor of the National Tertiary Education Union and a member of its Academic Freedom Working Group and the Victorian Division’s Return to Campus Working Group.
Joo-Cheong graduated from the University of Melbourne with a first class honours degree in law and also has a Master of Laws and Doctorate of Law from the same university. He has also 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.