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17 Pages

The Evolution of British Political Institutions in Australia

The theme of this essay lies somewhat apart from the main concern of the present book with ‘a changing relationship’. Once the British parliament had conferred self-government on the Australian colonies between 1850 and 1890, and enacted the Australian federal constitution in 1900, political development in Australia became largely autonomous, and owed little to direct relationships with Britain. That little included the increasing-but never complete-approximation of the role of Australian Governors and Governor-General vis-à-vis the executive and parliament to that of the British sovereign. It included the emancipationalso not complete-of the Australian judicial system from British authority, and intermittent steps toward Australian independence in the management of external relations. These developments have been thoroughly canvassed by historians, constitutional lawyers and students of Commonwealth relations-and some of them are discussed elsewhere in this volume.