This chapter explains how constitutionalism developed and how it currently operates in Australia. It first explains the historical developments whereby Australia combined elements of the British and American models of constitutionalism, which employ legal and political constitutionalism in very different ways. The chapter then describes three main stages in the development of Australian constitutionalism. The first was the establishment in the nineteenth century of colonial Constitutions, which employed a predominantly political form of constitutionalism and, upon federation in 1900, became the Constitutions of the six Australian States. The second was the establishment of the Commonwealth Constitution in 1900, which necessarily blended elements of political and legal constitutionalism. The third consists of more recent innovations by the High Court that have expanded the role of legal constitutionalism. Each development has built on its predecessor, resulting in a distinctive combination of political and legal constitutionalism.
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