High Court of Australia Records

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The High Court of Australia decides Constitutional matters, cases of special federal significance and is the highest court of appeal for federal, state and territory cases. Although the High Court of Australia was established in 1901 by Section 71 of the Constitution, the appointment of the first Bench had to await the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1903.

The vast collection of the High Court of Australia, with a date range from 1903 to 2003, includes judges' notebooks, correspondence between members, reports and records of judgements. It illustrates the development of Australia's common law practices and principles. It also includes a range of images and film of the opening of the original court and of the new High Court building in Canberra.

The records provide an insight into diverse landmark judicial decisions affecting Australian society, democracy and government. The cases represented here cover such issues as Commonwealth versus State powers (the Engineers case 1920 and the Tasmanian Franklin Dam case 1983), economic regulation (the Bank Nationalisation case 1948), freedom of speech and subversion (the Communist Party case 1951), the separation of powers doctrine (the Boilermakers case 1956), Native Title (the Mabo case 1992) and anti-homosexuality laws and human rights (the Toonen case 1994).