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Australian & Comparative Constitutional Law: Australian State Constitutional Law

This guide will help with your research in Australian, Global and Comparative Constitutional Law.



The New South Wales Constitution - Constitution Act 1902

Northern Territory Constitution - Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978

Queensland Constitution - Constitution of Queensland 2001

ACT Constitution - Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988

The South Australian Constitution - Constitution Act 1934

Tasmanian Constitution - Constitution Act 1934

Victorian Constitution - Constitution Act 1975

Western Australian Constitution - Constitution Act 1889

Some Landmark Cases

Attorney-General (NSW) v Trethowan (1931) 44 CLR 394, [1931] HCA 3 - this case revolved around the Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, and his attempt to abolish the New South Wales Legislative Council. It was found that the Legislative Council could not be abolished by mere legislation, but rather there is an entrenched requirement for a referendum to precede any such abolition.

Kable v The Director of Public Prosecutions for New South Wales (1996) 189 CLR 51, [1996] HCA 24 - this case is about Chapter III rights in the Constitution and the scope of power of state courts vested with federal jurisdiction. It restricts the power of State Parliaments to control the activities of State courts.

Powell v Apollo Candle (1885) 10 App Cas 282 - this case dealt with the powers of colonial legislatures. It decided that colonial legislatures, though subordinate to the Imperial Parliament, were not mere delegates and were empowered to delegate legislative power to the executive.

McCawley v The King [1920] AC 691, (1920) 28 CLR 106, [1920] UKPCHCA 1 - this case concluded that the Parliament is legislatively sovereign. This essentially has been the basis for all subsequent State constitutional law in Australia.

Clayton v Heffron (1960) 105 CLR 214, [1960] HCA 92 - this case revolved around whether there was a requirement under s. 5B of the Constitution Act, 1902 (N.S.W.) that a Bill (to abolish the Legislative Council) twice passed by the Legislative Assembly and rejected by the Legislative Council required a free conference between the houses first before being put to a referendum. It was held that it did not.

Egan v Willis (1998) 195 CLR 424, [1998] HCA 71 - this case confirmed that the Parliament has the power to call the Government into account. This is the principle of responsible government. The Government is answerable to the demands of Parliament. This principle was confirmed in the subsequent case of Egan v Chadwick (1999) 46 NSWLR 563, [1999] NSWCA 176

Arena v Nader (1997) 42 NSWLR 427, [1997] NSWSC 468, (1997) 71 ALJR 1604 - this case revolved around the validity of legislation providing for the waiver of privilege by a House of the New South Wales Parliament. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court found the legislation to be valid.

Source: State Constitutional Landmarks edited by George Winterton (Federation Press, 2006)