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Area of Law: Constitutional law

Staying up-to-date


Exam preparation

Australian Constitution

Listen to Professor Cheryl Saunders from the University of Melbourne discuss the most powerful legal document in Australia — The Constitution (The Gist of It, 15 min)

Read the Australian Constitution

Current compilation:

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (ComLaw)

As made:

The Australian Constitution (Australian Government. Senate)

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) (Museum of Australian Democracy)

Annotated Constitution:

Commentaries on the Constitution of Australia  / Garran, Robert, Sir (1867-1957)  (University of Sydney Library's Australian Digital Collections)

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia / Moore, W Harrison, Sir (1867-1935) (University of Sydney Library's Australian Digital Collections)


You can search for cases that consider sections of the Constitution by using CaseBase and FirstPoint. The High Court of Australia decides cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws.  HCA cases are published in the Commonwealth Law Reports (CLR).

Landmark cases:

See also HP Lee and George Winterton, Australian Constitutional Landmarks and George Winterton, State Constitutional Landmarks.

Plaintiff S4/2014 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (2014) 312 ALR 537; [2014] HCA 34, (HCA sets out constitutional limits on immigration detention)

Williams v Commonwealth of Australia (2014) 252 CLR 416;  [2014] HCA 23  (the constitutional validity of the federal government’s school chaplaincy program)

Commonwealth v Australian Capital Territory (Same-Sex Marriage Case) (2013) 250 CLR 441;  [2013] HCA 55 (12 December 2013)

Attorney-General for South Australia v Corporation of the City of Adelaide & Ors (2013) 249 CLR 1;  [2013] HCA 3 (the scope of the implied freedom of political communication under the Australian Constitution). 

JT International SA v Commonwealth of Australia; British American Tobacco Australasia Ltd & Ors v Commonwealth of Australia (2012) 250 CLR 1; [2012] HCA 43  (the constitutional validity of legislation requiring plain packaging of cigarettes in Australia.)

Pape v Commissioner of Taxation (2009) 238 CLR 1; [2009] HCA 23  (the constitutional validity of certain one-time payments to taxpayers by the federal government as part of its economic stimulus package) 

Roach v Electoral Commissioner (2007) (2007) 233 CLR 162; [2007] HCA 43  (the constitutional validity of amended federal legislation that imposed a blanket voting ban on all prisoners)

Thomas v Mowbray (2007) 233 CLR 307;  [2007] HCA 33  (the federal constitutional legislative powers with respect to defense and external affairs, as well as matters relating to the separation of powers.

New South Wales & Ors v Commonwealth of Australia (2006) 229 CLR 1; [2006] HCA 52  (the constitutional validity of the “Work Choices” industrial relations legislation passed by the federal Parliament) 

Kartinyeri v Commonwealth (Hindmarsh Island Bridge Case) (1998) 195 CLR 337; [1998] HCA 22

Newcrest Mining (WA) Ltd v Commonwealth (1997) 190 CLR 513; [1997] HCA 38 

Kable v The Director of Public Prosecutions for New South Wales (1996) 189 CLR 51; [1996] HCA 24

Mabo and Others v Queensland (No. 2) (Mabo) (1992) 175 CLR 1; [1992] HCA 23

Cole v Whitfield (1988) 165 CLR 360; [1988] HCA 18

Commonwealth v Tasmania (Tasmanian Dam Case) (1983) 158 CLR 1; [1983] HCA 21 

R v Kirby; Ex parte Boilermakers' Society of Australia (Boilermakers Case) (1956) 94 CLR 254; [1956] HCA 10 

Australian Communist Party v Commonwealth (Communist Party Case ) (1951) 83 CLR 1; [1951] HCA 5

Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd (Engineers' Case) (1920) 28 CLR 129; [1920] HCA 54 



Below is a list of  journals focussing on constitutional law, however articles may be found in a wide range of journals. See the Journals tab on our Law resources Library guide for more information.

Comparative Constitutional Law