Australia Act 1986

The Australia Act 1986 is the short title of each of a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth (i.e. federal) Parliament of Australia, the other an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In Australia they are referred to, respectively, as the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) and the Australia Act 1986 (UK). These nearly identical Acts were passed by the two parliaments, because of uncertainty as to whether the Commonwealth Parliament alone had the ultimate authority to do so. The Acts came into effect simultaneously.

The Australia Act (Cth and UK) eliminated the remaining possibilities for the UK to legislate with effect in Australia, for the UK to be involved in Australian government, and for an appeal from any Australian court to a British court.[1]

Australia Act 1986
Coat of Arms of Australia
Parliament of Australia
An Act to bring constitutional arrangements affecting the Commonwealth and the States into conformity with the status of the Commonwealth of Australia as a sovereign, independent and federal nation
CitationAct No. 142 of 1985
Enacted byParliament of Australia
Date of Royal Assent4 December 1985
Date commenced3 March 1986
Status: Current legislation
Australia Act 1986
Long titleAn Act to give effect to a request by the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth of Australia
Citation1986 c. 2
Royal assent17 February 1986
Commencement3 March 1986
Text of statute as originally enacted
Australia Act 1986
Photo of the Australia Act 1986 (United Kingdom) document located in Parliament House, Canberra

UK and Australian legislation

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 by federation of six British colonies, each of which became a State. The Commonwealth Constitution provided for a Commonwealth Parliament, with legislative power on a range of specified topics, leaving the residue of legislative power to the States. That constitution was (and still is) contained in a British statute.[2] The United Kingdom Parliament retained ultimate legislative power in relation to Australia.

The UK Parliament's power to legislate with effect for the Commonwealth itself was mostly ended with the Statute of Westminster 1931, when adopted by Australia in 1942 retroactive to 1939.[3] The Statute provided (s 4) that no future UK Act would apply to a Dominion (of which Australia was one) as part of its law unless the Act expressly declared that the Dominion had requested and consented to it. Until then, Australia had legally been a self-governing colony of the United Kingdom, but with the adoption of the Statute became a (mostly) sovereign nation.[4]

However, s 4 of the Statute only affected UK laws that were to apply as part of Australian Commonwealth law, not UK laws that were to apply as part of the law of any Australian State. Thus, the Parliament of the United Kingdom still had the power to legislate for the states and territories. In practice, however, this power was almost never exercised. For example, in a referendum on secession in Western Australia in April 1933, 68% of voters favoured seceding from Australia and becoming a separate Dominion. The state government sent a delegation to Westminster to request that this result be enacted into law, but the British government refused to intervene on the grounds that this was a matter for the Australian government. As a result of this decision in London, no action was taken in Canberra or Perth.

The Australia Act ended all power of the UK Parliament to legislate with effect in Australia – that is, "as part of the law of" the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory (s 1). Conversely, no future law of a State would be void for inconsistency with (being "repugnant to") any UK law applying with "paramount force" in Australia; a State (like the Commonwealth) would have power to repeal or amend such an existing UK law so far as it applied to the State (s 3). State laws would no longer be subject to disallowance or suspension by the Queen (s 8) – a power that, anomalously, remains for Commonwealth legislation (Constitution ss 59 and 60).[5]

Government in Australian states

Similarly, the Australia Act removed the power of the British government to be involved in the governing of an Australian State (ss 7 and 10). Specifically, only the State Premier could now advise the Queen on appointment or removal of a State Governor. Nonetheless, the Queen could still exercise any of her powers with respect to the State if she was "personally present" in the State.[6]

Appeals to the Privy Council

At federation in 1901, the supreme court of each colony became the supreme court of that State. In 1903, a High Court of Australia was established, one of whose functions was to hear appeals from the State supreme courts. The draft of the Constitution, that was put to voters in the various colonies and presented to the British government for embodiment in UK legislation, was that there was to be no appeal from the High Court to the Privy Council in any matter involving the interpretation of the Constitution or of the Constitution of a State, unless it involved the interests of some other dominion.[7] However, the British insisted on a compromise.[8][9] Section 74 of the Constitution as enacted by the Imperial Parliament,[10] provided two possibilities of appeal. There could be an appeal if the High Court issued a certificate that it was appropriate for the Privy Council to determine an inter se matter, i.e. a matter that concerned the constitutional relations between the Commonwealth and one or more States or between two or more States. And there could be an appeal with permission of the Privy Council. The Commonwealth Parliament was empowered to legislate to limit the latter path and it did so in 1968 and 1975;[11][12] but legislation could only limit, not abolish.

Predictably, the High Court proved reluctant to grant certificates for appeal to the Privy Council. The discretion was exercised only once, in 1912.[13] In 1961, delivering on behalf of the whole Court a brief dismissal of an application for a certificate, Chief Justice Sir Owen Dixon said: "experience shows – and that experience was anticipated when s. 74 was enacted – that it is only those who dwell under a Federal Constitution who can become adequately qualified to interpret and apply its provisions".[14] In 1985, the High Court unanimously observed that the power to grant such a certificate "has long since been spent" and is "obsolete".[15]

Although the path of appeal from the High Court to the Privy Council had been effectively blocked, the High Court could not block appeals from State supreme courts directly to the Privy Council. Nor did the Constitution limit, or provide for legislation to limit, such appeals. The expense of any appeal to the Privy Council in London had been a deterrent: in any year, there had never been more than a handful.[16] Nonetheless, by the 1980s the possibility of appeal from a State supreme court was seen as outdated. In addition, in 1978 confusion over the relative precedential value of High Court and Privy Council decisions had been introduced when the High Court ruled that it would no longer be bound by Privy Council decisions.[17]

Constitution s 74 has not been amended, and the Constitution cannot be amended by legislation.[5] Nonetheless, s 11 of the Australia Act goes as far as legislatively possible, to make s 74 a dead letter. Thus, for practical purposes, the Australia Act has eliminated the remaining methods of appeal to the Privy Council.[18]

Passage and proclamation of the Act

Disagreement existed as to whether the Commonwealth Parliament alone had sufficient authority to enact the Australia Act under s 51(xxxviii) of the Constitution, or whether an additional Act of the UK Parliament would be required. Hence, to put the legal status of the Act beyond doubt, it was decided that the UK and Australian parliaments would each enact the Australia Act in substantially similar forms.[19][20]

The plan to revamp both federal and State constitutional arrangements required each State parliament to pass its own enabling legislation. The long title of these State Acts (such as the Australia Acts (Request) Act 1985 of New South Wales) was "An Act to enable the constitutional arrangements affecting the Commonwealth and the States to be brought into conformity with the status of the Commonwealth of Australia as a sovereign, independent and federal nation". The body of each State Act set out the State's "request and consent" as to both the Australian and the UK versions of the Australia Act.

The Governor-General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen, assented to the Australia Act (Cth) "In the name of Her Majesty" on 4 December 1985.[21] However, Queen Elizabeth II was to visit Australia early in 1986 and, in acknowledgement of Australian sensibilities, it was arranged that she would assent to both versions of the Act and then proclaim them so that they would come into force at the same moment in both countries. She assented to the Australia Act 1986 (UK) on 17 February 1986 and on 24 February proclaimed that it would come into force at 0500 Greenwich Mean Time on 3 March.[22] Then, visiting Australia, at a ceremony held in Government House, Canberra, on 2 March 1986 the Queen signed a proclamation that the Australia Act (Cth) would come into force at 0500 GMT on 3 March.[23] Thus, according to both UK law and Australian law, the two versions of the Australia Act would commence simultaneously—the UK version at 0500 GMT in the UK and, according to the time difference, the Australian version at 1600 AEST in Canberra.[24] The ceremony was presided over by the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, to whom the Queen presented the signed copy of the proclamation, along with the Assent original of the UK Act (image above).[25]

At the time, the Commonwealth, State and UK Acts were known as the "Australia Acts". However, the State Acts have performed their function and the expression "Australia Act(s)" is now used to refer only to the Commonwealth and UK Acts.

The Act and Australian independence

The principal difference between the Commonwealth and UK versions of the Australia Act lies in the reference, appearing in the long title and preamble to the Commonwealth version but not present in the UK version, to Australia as "a sovereign, independent and federal nation". While this might be understood as a declaration of independence, it can also be understood as an acknowledgement that Australia was already independent, leaving open the question of when independence had been attained. There is no earlier declaration or grant of independence.

The High Court in Sue v Hill in 1999[26] did not rely upon the long title or the preamble, which conventionally do not have force of law. But it decided that the effect of the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) was that, at least from the date when the Act came into operation, Britain had become a "foreign power" within the meaning of Constitution section 44(i), so that a parliamentary candidate who had British nationality was ineligible to be a member of the Commonwealth Parliament.

That view was taken in Sue v Hill by three members of the Court, supported with misgivings by one other member. One of those who did not find it necessary to express an opinion on this point, Justice Michael Kirby, was in a later case to deliver a dissent in which he argued that the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) was invalid.[27] Constitution s 106 guarantees that a State constitution may be altered only in accordance with its own provisions,[28] hence not by the Commonwealth Parliament. However, both versions of the Australia Act contain amendments to the constitutions of Queensland (s 13) and Western Australia (s 14). In Kirby J's view in Marquet (2003),[27] this was inconsistent with Constitution s 106, so that the Australia Act (Cth) was not a valid exercise of Commonwealth legislative power. A majority, however, thought that it was sufficient that the Act had been passed in reliance on Constitution s 51(xxxviii), which gives the Commonwealth parliament power to legislate at the request of the State parliaments.

Soon afterwards, however, in Shaw (2003),[29] the whole Court (including Kirby) took a more comprehensive view: that the Australia Act in its two versions, together with the State request and consent legislation, amounted to establishing Australian independence at the date when the Australia Act (Cth) came into operation, 3 March 1986.

See also


  1. ^ The Australian version has not been amended since; the UK version has been amended only as to an element of UK law, without effect in Australia.
  2. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, referred to in Australia as (UK) or (Imp), for "Imperial". It continues to apply in Australia by "paramount force" or by adoption.
  3. ^ Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (Cth) Federal Register of Legislation; the adoption was backdated, with mainly symbolic effect, to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
  4. ^ Southern Centre of Theosophy Inc v South Australia [1979] HCA 59, (1979) 145 CLR 246 (22 November 1979), High Court at p 257 per Gibbs J: " It was not until the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (Cth) that the Commonwealth itself finally cast off its colonial status, and even then, within the meaning of earlier Imperial statutes, it remained a 'British possession'."
  5. ^ a b Neither version of the Australia Act could change the Constitution; that can be done only through a national referendum, under Constitution s 128. The referendum process is very difficult; as of 2011, only 8 out of 44 proposals put to referendum have been approved.
  6. ^ There is no equivalent provision as to the Commonwealth. However, for both the Commonwealth and the States, constitutional convention effectively excludes the monarch from any personal exercise of governmental power. The 1986 proclamation was an exception, approved by Australian ministers.
  7. ^ See for example "Australasian Federation Enabling Act 1899 No 2 (NSW)" (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Council's Office.
  8. ^ JA La Nauze (1972). The Making of the Australian Constitution. Melbourne University Press. p. 253.
  9. ^ John M Williams (2015). "Ch 5 The Griffith Court". In Dixon, R; Williams, G. The High Court, the Constitution and Australian Politics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107043664.
  10. ^ "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp)" (PDF).
  11. ^ Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968 (Cth), which ended all appeals to the Privy Council in matters involving federal legislation
  12. ^ Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Act 1975 (Cth), which prohibited almost all types of appeal from the High Court.
  13. ^ Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd v Attorney-General (Cth) [1912] HCA 94, (1912) 15 CLR 182.
  14. ^ Whitehouse v Queensland [1961] HCA 55, (1961) 104 CLR 635.
  15. ^ Kirmani v Captain Cook Cruises Pty Ltd (No 2) [1985] HCA 27, (1985) 159 CLR 461.
  16. ^ AustLII. "Privy Council Appeals". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  17. ^ Viro v R [1978] HCA 9, (1978) 141 CLR 88.
  18. ^ Appeals were still being lodged up to the last moment. The final such appeal, an equity case from the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, was comprehensively dismissed by the Privy Council on 27 July 1987: Austin v Keele [1987] UKPC 24, Privy Council (on appeal from NSW).
  19. ^ Watts, A. D. (January 1987). "The Australia Act 1986". International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 36 (01): 132–139. doi:10.1093/iclqaj/36.1.132. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  20. ^ Lee, H. P. (December 1988). "The Australia Act 1986 - Some Legal Conundrums" (PDF). Monash University Law Review. 14 (4): 298–2. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  21. ^ Australia Act 1986 (Cth ) Assent original. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Australia Act (Commencement) Order 1986" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  23. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No S 85 of 2 March 1986.
  24. ^ Anne Twomey, The Chameleon Crown (2006), 258–9.
  25. ^ Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia signs the proclamation. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  26. ^ Sue v Hill [1999] HCA 30, (1999) 199 CLR 462.
  27. ^ a b Attorney-General (WA) v Marquet [2003] HCA 67, (2003) 217 CLR 545.
  28. ^ This would normally be through a referendum of the people of the State.
  29. ^ Shaw v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs [2003] HCA 72, (2003) 218 CLR 28.


External links

Australia Day

Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members of the Australian community.The meaning and significance of Australia Day has evolved and been contested over time, and not all states have celebrated the same date as their date of historical significance. Unofficially, or historically, the date has also been variously named "Anniversary Day", "Foundation Day" and "ANA Day". The date of 26 January 1788 marked the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland). Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. On New Year's Day 1901, the British colonies of Australia formed a federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. A national day of unity and celebration was looked for. It was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories adopted use of the term "Australia Day" to mark the date, and not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked by a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.In contemporary Australia, the holiday is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honours list and addresses from the Governor-General and the Prime Minister. It is an official public holiday in every state and territory. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.Some Indigenous Australian events are now included. However, since at least 1938, the date of Australia Day has also been marked by Indigenous Australians, and those sympathetic to their cause, mourning what they see as the invasion of their land by Europeans and protesting its celebration as a national holiday. These groups sometimes refer to 26 January as Invasion Day or Survival Day and advocate that the date should be changed, or that the holiday should be abolished entirely.

Chapter III Court

In Australian constitutional law, Chapter III Courts are courts of law which are a part of the Australian federal judiciary and thus are able to discharge Commonwealth judicial power. They are so named because the prescribed features of these courts are contained in Chapter III of the Australian Constitution.

Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865

The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (28 & 29 Vict. c. 63) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Its long title is "An Act to remove Doubts as to the Validity of Colonial Laws".

The purpose of the Act was to remove any apparent inconsistency between local (colonial) and British ("imperial") legislation. Thus it confirmed that colonial legislation (provided it had been passed in the proper manner) was to have full effect within the colony, limited only to the extent that it was not in contradiction with ("repugnant to") any Act of Parliament that contained powers which extended beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom to include that colony. This had the effect of clarifying and strengthening the position of colonial legislatures, while at the same time restating their ultimate subordination to the Westminster Parliament.

Until the passage of the Act, a number of colonial statutes had been struck down by local judges on the grounds of repugnancy to English laws, whether or not those English laws had been intended by Parliament to be effective in the colony. This had been a particular problem for the government in South Australia, where Justice Benjamin Boothby had struck down local statutes on numerous occasions in the colony's Supreme Court.By the mid-1920s, the British government accepted that the dominions should have full legislative autonomy. Accordingly, the imperial Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, which repealed the application of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 to the dominions (i.e., Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the Union of South Africa).

The Statute of Westminster took effect immediately in Canada, the Irish Free State and South Africa. Australia adopted the Statute in 1942 with the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, with retroactive effect to 3 September 1939, the start of World War II. The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 continued to have application in individual Australian states until the Australia Act 1986 came into effect in 1986.

New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster in 1947.

Newfoundland never adopted the Statute of Westminster. Instead, facing grave financial difficulties as a result of the Great Depression, Newfoundland gave up responsible government in 1934. The Colonial Laws Validity Act continued to apply to Newfoundland, which was from then on ruled by an appointed Governor and Commission of Government until, in 1949, Newfoundland joined Canada as its 10th province.

Elsewhere, the Colonial Laws Validity Act remains in force, and helps to define the relationship between Acts of Parliament and laws passed in self-governing British territories, as well as the legality of decisions made by territorial legislatures and governments. The power to amend the Colonial Laws Validity Act rests with the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Colony of New South Wales

The Colony of New South Wales was a colony of the British Empire from 1788 to 1900, when it became a State of the Commonwealth of Australia. At its greatest extent, the colony of New South Wales included the present-day Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, as well as New Zealand. The first "responsible" self-government of New South Wales was formed on 6 June 1856 with Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson appointed by Governor Sir William Denison as its first Colonial Secretary.

Constitution of Australia

The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the government of the Commonwealth of Australia operates, including its relationship to the States of Australia. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is referred to as the "Constitution" in the remainder of this article. The Constitution was approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies, and the approved draft was enacted as a section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp) became law on 9 July 1900, and entered into force on 1 January 1901. Even though the Constitution was originally given legal force by an Act of the United Kingdom parliament, the Australia Act 1986 removed the power of the United Kingdom parliament to change the Constitution as in force in Australia, and the Constitution can now only be changed in accordance with the prescribed referendum procedures in Section 128.

Other pieces of legislation have constitutional significance for Australia. These are the Statute of Westminster, as adopted by the Commonwealth in the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (retroactive to 1939), and the Australia Act 1986, which was passed in equivalent forms by the United Kingdom Parliament and the Australian Federal Parliament (using legislative powers conferred by enabling acts passed by the Parliaments of every Australian state). The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act is often regarded as the point at which Australia became, de jure, an independent nation, while the Australia Act severed the last remaining constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. Even though the same person, Queen Elizabeth II, is the monarch of both countries, she acts in a distinct capacity as monarch of each.Under Australia's common law system, the High Court of Australia and the Federal Court of Australia have the authority to interpret constitutional provisions. Their decisions determine the interpretation and application of the constitution.

Constitutional history of Australia

The Constitutional history of Australia began with the first white settlement in Sydney in 1788 and has undergone numerous constitutional changes since.

David Malcolm

David Kingsley Malcolm, AC, QC (6 May 1938 – 20 October 2014) was the Chief Justice of Western Australia from May 1988 until his retirement from the bench in February 2006. He was also an expatriate justice of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

Born in Bunbury, Western Australia, Malcolm was educated at Guildford Grammar School in Perth and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1960. Malcolm was a graduate of the University of Western Australia. He studied for his BCL at Wadham College, Oxford. Before serving as Chief Justice, Malcolm was a deputy counsel for the Asian Development Bank and one of Western Australia's most prominent Queen's Counsel. He regularly appeared before the Privy Council, and appeared as counsel on one of the last Australian appeals to the Privy Council before the Australia Act 1986 took effect. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the retirement of the widely respected Francis Burt. In 1990 he also became Lieutenant-Governor of the state.

Malcolm earned great respect during his time as Chief Justice, and received great acclaim from the legal profession on his retirement on 7 February 2006. However, during his final year on the bench he came under increasing pressure, by the media, for perceived failings on the bench after he aborted a murder trial.At his farewell, the Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, commented on the landmark judgement that Malcolm had handed down in the appeal of John Button, a high-profile case in which a manslaughter conviction was quashed over 30 years after the event. Wayne Martin replaced Malcolm as Chief Justice, and Malcolm later became Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle.

Malcolm died in Perth in October 2014, aged 76.

Extraterritorial jurisdiction

Extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries.

Any authority can claim ETJ over any external territory they wish. However, for the claim to be effective in the external territory (except by the exercise of force), it must be agreed either with the legal authority in the external territory, or with a legal authority that covers both territories. When unqualified, ETJ usually refers to such an agreed jurisdiction, or it will be called something like "claimed ETJ".

The phrase may also refer to a country's laws extending beyond its boundaries in the sense that they may authorise the courts of that country to enforce their jurisdiction against parties appearing before them in with respect to acts they allegedly engaged in outside that country. This does not depend on the co-operation of other countries, since the affected people are within the relevant country (or at least, in a case involving a person being tried in absentia, the case is being heard by a court of that country). For example, many countries have laws which give their criminal courts jurisdiction to try prosecutions for piracy or terrorism committed outside their national boundaries. Sometimes such laws only apply to nationals of that country, and sometimes they may apply to anyone.

Flags of the Governors of the Australian states

The governors of the Australian states, who represent their respective head of state (the Queen of Australia), have a personal flag in that role. With the exception of Queensland's, the current design of these flags originate from the 1970s and 1980s.

Government of Australia

The Government of Australia is the government of the Commonwealth of Australia, a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. It is also commonly referred to as the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government, Her Majesty's Government, or the Federal Government.

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states. The terms of this contract are embodied in the Australian Constitution, which was drawn up at a Constitutional Convention and ratified by the people of the colonies at referendums. The Australian head of state is the Queen of Australia who is represented by the Governor-General of Australia, with executive powers delegated by constitutional convention to the Australian head of government, the Prime Minister of Australia.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is divided into three branches: the executive branch, composed of the Federal Executive Council, presided by the Governor-General, which delegates powers to the Cabinet of Australia, led by the Prime Minister; the legislative branch, composed of the Parliament of Australia's House of Representatives and Senate; and the judicial branch, composed of the High Court of Australia and the federal courts. Separation of powers is implied by the structure of the Constitution, the three branches of government being set out in separate chapters (chapters I to III). The Australian system of government combines elements of the Westminster and Washington systems with unique Australian characteristics, and has been characterised as a "Washminster mutation".

Governor of New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The governor is appointed by the queen on the advice of the premier of New South Wales, for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current governor is retired General David Hurley, who succeeded Dame Marie Bashir on 2 October 2014.

The office has its origin in the 18th-century colonial governors of New South Wales upon its settlement in 1788, and is the oldest continuous institution in Australia. The present incarnation of the position emerged with the Federation of Australia and the New South Wales Constitution Act 1902, which defined the viceregal office as the governor acting by and with the advice of the Executive Council of New South Wales. However, the post still ultimately represented the government of the United Kingdom until, after continually decreasing involvement by the British government, the passage in 1942 of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (see Statute of Westminster) and the Australia Act 1986, after which the governor became the direct, personal representative of the uniquely Australian sovereign.

Judiciary of Australia

The judiciary of Australia comprises judges who sit in federal courts and courts of the States and Territories of Australia. The High Court of Australia sits at the apex of the Australian court hierarchy as the ultimate court of appeal on matters of both federal and State law.

The large number of courts in Australia have different procedural powers and characteristics, different jurisdictional limits, different remedial powers and different cost structures.

Under the Australian Constitution, federal judicial power is vested in the High Court of Australia and such other federal courts as may be created by the federal Parliament. These courts include the Federal Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, and the Family Court of Australia. Federal jurisdiction can also be vested in State courts.

The Supreme Courts of the states and territories are superior courts of record with general and unlimited jurisdiction within their own state or territory. They can try any justiciable dispute, whether it be for money or not, and whether it be for $1 or $1 billion.

Like the Supreme Courts, the Family Court and Federal Court are superior courts of record, which means that they have certain inherent procedural and contempt powers. But unlike their Supreme Court counterparts, their subject matter jurisdiction must be granted by statute. Under the doctrine of "accrued jurisdiction", the Federal Court can, however, rule on issues outside its explicit jurisdiction, provided that they are part of a larger matter that the court does have jurisdiction over.The High Court has limited trial powers, but very rarely exercises them. It has ample power to transfer cases started there to another, more appropriate court, so that the High Court can conserve its energies for its appellate functions.

Common law and equity are administered by the same courts, in a manner similar to that of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 (United Kingdom). Legal and equitable remedies may be pursued in the one action in the one court.

Kirmani v Captain Cook Cruises Pty Ltd (No 2)

Kirmani v Captain Cook Cruises Pty Ltd (No 2), was a decision of the High Court of Australia on 17 April 1985 concerning section 74 of the Constitution of Australia. The Court denied an application by the Attorney-General of Queensland seeking a certificate that would permit the Privy Council to hear an appeal from the High Court's decision in Kirmani v Captain Cook Cruises Pty Ltd (No 1).

Law of Australia

The law of Australia comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law. These include the Australian Constitution, legislation enacted by the Federal Parliament and the parliaments of the States and territories of Australia, regulations promulgated by the Executive, and the common law of Australia arising from the decisions of judges.

The Australian Constitution is the legal foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia and sets out a federal system of government, dividing power between the federal Government and the States and territories, each of which are separate jurisdictions and have their own system of courts and parliaments. The constitutional framework of Australia is a combination of elements of the Westminster and United States systems of government. The federal legislature has the power to pass laws with respect to a number of express areas, which apply to the whole of Australia and override any State laws to the extent of any inconsistency. However, beyond those express areas the States legislatures generally have plenary power to enact laws on any subject.At both the federal and State levels, the substantive law of Australia is largely derived from the common law system of English law.

The High Court of Australia is the highest court in Australia, and hears appeals from federal and State courts on matters of both federal and State law. Unlike the United States, there is only one common law of Australia rather than common laws for each of the several jurisdictions of the states and territories.

List of Justices of the High Court of Australia

The following table contains the details of the 48 men and five women who have ever been appointed as Justices of the High Court of Australia. The High Court of Australia was formed in 1903 under the Judiciary Act 1903, and under Section 71 of the Australian Constitution the judicial power of the Commonwealth of Australia is vested in the Court. Since the passing of the Australia Act 1986, the court has been the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy.

List of countries that have gained independence from the United Kingdom

This is a line of countries and territories formerly ruled or administered by the United Kingdom or part of the British Empire, with their independence days. Some countries did not gain their independence on a single date, therefore the latest day of independence is shown with a break down of dates further down.

Parliament of Queensland

The Parliament of Queensland is the legislature of Queensland, Australia. According to the state's constitution, the Parliament consists of the Queen and the Legislative Assembly. It is the only unicameral state parliament in the country. The upper chamber, the Legislative Council, was abolished in 1922. The Legislative Assembly sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Brisbane.

All laws applicable in Queensland are authorised by the Parliament of Queensland, with the exception of specific legislation defined in the Constitution of Australia, criminal law applying under the Australia Act 1986 as well as older laws passed by New South Wales and the United Kingdom because the state having been was a colony.Following the outcome of the 2015 election, successful amendments to the electoral act in early 2016 include: adding an additional four parliamentary seats from 89 to 93, changing from optional preferential voting to full-preferential voting, and moving from unfixed three-year terms to fixed four-year terms.

Statute of Westminster 1931

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and modified versions of it are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. As the Statute removed nearly all of the British Parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions fully sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

The Statute of Westminster's relevance today is that it sets the basis for the continuing relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown.

Sue v Hill

Sue v Hill was an Australian court case decided in the High Court of Australia on 23 June 1999. It concerned a dispute over the apparent return of a candidate, Heather Hill, to the Australian Senate in the 1998 federal election. The result was challenged on the basis that Hill was a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Australia, and that section 44(i) of the Constitution of Australia prevents any person who is the citizen of a "foreign power" from being elected to the Parliament of Australia. The High Court found that, at least for the purposes of section 44(i), the United Kingdom is a foreign power to Australia.

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