Responsible Government began unsteadily in New South Wales in 1856. Still evolving until Federation, the concept created major contests between the judiciary and other arms of government.
This book begins with the premature collapse of the first Ministry in August 1856. At issue were the Lower House’s objections to the Colony’s judges also serving as members of the Upper House termed "Bunyip Law Lords." Chief Justice Stephen even aspired to be Lord Chancellor of New South Wales. Eventually, the Lower House prevailed.
It finishes in the 1880s with a ferocious clash, one of the most spectacular in Australia’s history, between the Executive and the Judiciary. The populist Parkes Government refused to allow a shipload of Chinese immigrants to disembark in Sydney Harbour. The Supreme Court granted habeas corpus compelling their entry. The Government, driven by community fury, attempted to enforce its will by ministerial direction. Eventually it was forced to give way.
"The work illustrates the difficulty which the young colony overcame to establish its own model of responsible government. Most significantly, this included defining the degree of the separation of powers and working towards resolution of the tensions between the judicial and legislative arms of government. Interestingly, for a brief period in the 19th century serving judges of the NSW Supreme Court were also non-elected members of the legislature....
The work draws together contemporary newspaper articles, political cartoons and other reference materials to illustrate the issues of contention. Primary materials are used effectively to provide glimpses of the leading personalities involved in the debates of the day."
-- Sharon Rowe, Ethos (Law Society ACT), June 2006