The High Court of Australia is a creation of Federation. Alfred Deakin called it 'no common creation', because it is both the highest court of appeal in Australia and the body responsible for determining the meaning and powers of the Constitution.
As set out in the Australian Constitution, the High Court is a 'federal supreme court' designed to exercise the judicial power of Australia’s federal system. While the federal parliament makes laws on behalf of the Australian people, the High Court’s role is to interpret and apply the law.
Alfred Deakin, later Australia's second prime minister, introduced the bill to establish the High Court in 1903. The Judiciary Act was passed that year and the High Court opened officially in Melbourne on 6 October. It took up its permanent home in the High Court building in Canberra in 1980.
'A balancing act' shows how High Court Justices have interpreted the Constitution in three landmark cases:
'Under the wig' provides a glimpse of the changing character of the High Court under the leadership of three different Chief Justices: