'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.

part I|63 pages

Frontier Law

chapter 1|19 pages

Aboriginal Subjects of the Crown

chapter 2|21 pages

The Contradictions of Convict Law

chapter 3|21 pages

Amateur Law at the Frontier

part II|89 pages

Imperial Orthodoxy, 1820–1900

chapter 4|15 pages

Innovation Smothered?

Formal changes from the 1820s to the 1850s

chapter 5|21 pages

The Power of the Judges

Judicial review and the attachment to England

chapter 6|21 pages

Repugnant Legislation

Law making from 1824 to responsible government

chapter 7|30 pages

Colonial Freedom

Law making between responsible government and 1900

part III|51 pages

Federation: Deference and Independence