Australia Law and Finance

Law. – According to jibin123, the constitutions of states are contained in the legislation of the empire or in the local legislation promulgated by powers conferred by the imperial legislation. The constitutions and the laws of the colonies remained unchanged after the formation of the Federation, as they did not conflict with the constitution of the Federation and with the authority of the federal parliament. For the three oldest states the “common law” is the law in force on July 25, 1828, when the New South Wales Judicature Act (in the intention of the British parliament, of only provisional value) of 1823 was amended, with which the true and own legal system of the parent colony. These laws have been changed: a) from the imperial legislation relating to the colonies; b) by the legislation of the colonies; c) by the legislation of the states after the Federation; d) by the legislation of the Federation. Since the colonies took over the English system, judgments have been sources of law, with full force of law, and must be taken into account in decisions made by the Judicial Committee of the Private Council and the various Australian courts. The forthcoming publication of a digest of Australian jurisprudence with the force of law is announced and will be the first comprehensive guide. One might think that in the space of a century the law of the states has moved away from that of England, but this opinion would be very inaccurate, because the states have followed the evolution of English law; English law is copied, English textbooks are used by courts and lawyers, and English judges are regarded as authoritative statements of Australian law, as the laws are the same. And indeed there has always been a large number of Australian lawyers trained in English law schools. To what extent English legislation has been copied can be shown by the example of the state of Victoria, where by the end of 1924 some 430 British laws had been adopted in whole or in part.

Nonetheless, states have made many innovations. In many respects they have been at the forefront of social reform. Australian states have done more for the advancement of industry under state intervention than most other states around the world. In family law, they have more than followed, preceded the parallel evolution of English law. For example, divorce is not granted simply for adultery, as in England, but also for long neglect, infirmity, habitual drunkenness, long imprisonment, and for some cases of ill-treatment, although there are differences from state to state in detail. Even in real rights there are differences, following the adoption of the registration of securities (the so-called “Torrens system”, because it is proposed, with a naval-like register in South Australia by Sir Robert Torrens in 1857 and implemented in 1858; cf. V, p. 423).

But the greatest development took place in the field of employment relationships. Not only state but also federal courts of conciliation and compulsory arbitration have been established: the Federation has the faculty to legislate in this regard, when the dispute extends beyond the borders of a state. And this has created serious problems of conflict of power. The optimistic judgments given by some are contrasted by others that are less favorable: it is certain that several times the labor conflicts have been no less bitter in Australia than elsewhere.

A definitive judgment should also take into consideration the economic difficulties of a young democratic federation and, perhaps, it cannot yet be given.

With regard to commercial law, criminal law and above all civil and criminal procedure, for the most part the states have followed English law. Like England, they have not codified their law, although some of them have gone further in the direction of the consolidation of legislative law. In essence, their law is based on common English law.

Ecclesiastical organization. In 1930, the Diocese of Townsville was established as a suffragan of Brisbane. Instead, the apostolic prefecture of the Northern Territory (the diocese of Victoria has its residence in Port Darwin), the mission of Beagle Bay and the apostolic vicariate of Queensland no longer appear in the Catholic hierarchy.

Finance. – The recovery of the Australian economy, based mainly on export trade, was rapid, so that from 1931-32 the ordinary balance sheets of the Commonwealth closed in surplus again and from October 1932 various conversions of the public debt could be carried out with consequent reduction of the interest burden (millions of pounds sterling).

As of June 30, 1937, the total external debt of the Commonwealth and the states amounted to 588 million and the internal debt to 674 (of which 617 consolidated).

The Australian pound, which since the suspension of convertibility (December 1929) had already been depreciating against gold, at the end of 1931 following the collapse of the British pound was fixed at the rate of 125 La. = 100 Li.

As of December 31, 1937, the notes of the Bank of the Commonwealth amounted to 49.6 million and the reserve (which since June 1932 may also be in pounds sterling) was 0.2 million in gold and 48.5 in foreign exchange. In addition to the Bank of the Commonwealth established in 1913 and which since 1920 has controlled the issue and functions more and more as a central bank as well as a commercial bank, the main credit institutions are: the Bank of New South Wales (1817) which is the oldest and most important Commercial Bank, Commercial Bouking Co. of Sydney (1834), Bank of Australasia (1835), National Bank of Australasia (1858), Bank of Adelaide (1865), Commercial Bank of Australia (1866); all institutions endowed before 1913 with the power to issue notes and whose circulation was since then almost entirely replaced by state notes and therefore, after 1920, from the notes of the Commonwealth Bank. The Australian banking system is closely connected with the New Zealand one; all major banks in both countries have either their head office or major branches in London.

Australia Law