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Abstract from

The Australian Constitution and the End of Empire A Century of Legal History

Professor The Honourable William Gummow AC is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia (to 2012), following his tenure on the Federal Court of Australia. After his retirement from the High Court, he was appointed to the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong as a non- permanent judge from another common law jurisdiction. In addition, Professor Gummow has been appointed a Professor at the Sydney Law School and the ANU College of Law.

This article considers the Australian Constitution and the end of empire – it is an examination of, and a reflection on, effectively a century of legal history. It canvasses five particular topics: the assumption by Australia of international legal personality; the sovereign’s position and authority; the Governor-General’s office; the scope of various legis- lative powers; and the Australian judicial structure. This examination illustrates how, with the diminishing impact of the British Empire and its institutions in the past century, the Australian Constitution’s opera- tion has been modified, and the High Court’s position in the judicial structure has changed significantly.

(2015) 33(1) Law in Context p74

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