'This is a provocative re-examination of our legal history appearing at a time when Australians are reconsidering both their past and their future.' - The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal
The imperial view of Australian law was that it was a weak derivative of English law. In An Unruly Child, Bruce Kercher rewrites history. He reveals that since 1788 there has been a contest between the received legal wisdom of Mother England and her sometimes unruly offspring. The resulting law often suited local interests, but was not always more just.
Kercher also shows that law has played a major role in Australian social history. From the convict settlements and the Eureka stockade in the early years to the Harvester Judgement, the White Australia Policy and most recently the Mabo case, central themes of Australian history have been framed by the legal system.
An Unruly Child is a groundbreaking work which will influence our understanding of Australia's history and its legal system.
Table of Contents
Introduction: English flotsam xi
PART I FRONTIER LAW 1
1 Aboriginal subjects of the Crown - 3
2 The contradictions of convict law - 22
3 Amateur law at the frontier - 43
PART II IMPERIAL ORTHODOXY, 1820-1900 65
4 Innovation smothered? Formal changes from the 1820s to the 1850s - 67
5 The power of the judges: judicial review and the attachment to England - 82
6 Repugnant legislation: law making from 1824 to responsible government - 103
7 Colonial freedom: law making between responsible government and 1900 - 124
PART III FEDERATION: DEFERENCE AND INDEPENDENCE 155
8 Creeping towards legal independence, 1901-1960 - 157
9 The rebirth of Australian legal doctrine, 1960-1995 - 177
Notes and sources 206
Bruce Kercher is Associate Professor of Law at Macquarie University and has published widely in the history of Australian law.