This chapter seeks to determine the content of the federal principle in Australia from the historical context of the Constitution, the text and structure of the Constitution, and the jurisprudence of the High Court of Australia. The federal principle is a foundational element of the Constitution, along with representative democracy, responsible government, separation of judicial power, and the rule of law. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) provided for the people of the six Australian colonies to be united in ‘a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia’, a self-governing polity within the British Empire. Hence, the chapter reveals three core ingredients of the federal principle: multiple polities, limited authority of polities, and reciprocal responsibility among polities. These ingredients are tightly intertwined.
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