"The keystone of the federal arch, which would decide the orbit and boundary of every power; the competent tribunal which would protect the Constitution and oversee its agencies."
[A reference to the High Court of Australia - Galligan, B, 'The Power of Seven' Smith, M Legal Process, 6th ed. Sydney, LBC, 1994, 619.]
On the 18th of March 1902 one of the greatest speeches in the political history of Australia was made by the attorney general at the time, Alfread Deakin. Deakin expressed his intentions as a "fundamental proposition for a structural creation which is the necessary and essential complement of a federal Constitution." Hence the High Court of Australia.
Deakin went on to state that "there were three fundamental conditions of a federation: first, a supreme Constitution; next, a distribution of powers under that Constitution; and third, an authority reposed in a judiciary to interpret that supreme Constitution and to decide as to the precise distribution of powers."
The Court, he said, would "define and determine the powers of the Commonwealth itself, the powers of the States ... and the validity of the legislation flowing from them."
Australia's system of law was inherited from the British system and resembles it closely. Several important differences exist, including the fact that Australia has a written constitution and a federal form of government. Each of the states and territories has its own court system, and a federal system exists to deal mainly with matters over which the federal parliament has jurisdiction.
The High Court is the apex of the Australian judicial system and one of its many roles is to deal with federal or state law, whether statute or common law. It has original jurisdiction in the interpretation of the Constitution, the relative powers of the Commonwealth, the determination of legal...