Summer Session 2017-18 lec > subject pages > australian constitutional law

Australian Constitutional Law is a public law subject. The focus of the course is upon its primary source the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp). It is that document which created the Commonwealth of Australia and preserved the former colonies as technically autonomous entities called States. It is the Constitution that provides a definition of public power in Australia. It divides legislative power between the Commonwealth and the States by conferring on the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate "with respect to" particular topics. In the event of "inconsistency", the Commonwealth legislation prevails and the State law to the extent of the inconsistency is invalid.

The aim of the course is to explore the concept of federalism as embodied in the Constitution by examining a selection of important powers vested in the Commonwealth Parliament and exploring the limitations on those powers. The course will examine the nature of federal judicial power and the separation of powers doctrine, and will consider the extent to which the doctrine is embodied in Australian constitutional law. Finally, the course will explore the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States in terms of legislative power.

The topics chosen for treatment raise questions about the operation of a federal system of government and illustrate the practical workings of a federation.



Lecture and weekend school timetables, prescribed materials, and assignment information are in the Subject Guide. Assignments and Supplementary Materials (where applicable) can be accessed by current students from the Webcampus.








Law Extension Committee
The University of Sydney
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Fax: (02) 8089 1959

This page last updated on 18 September 2017


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