Common Law Origins.

Australia and Britain have remarkably few constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights. This is not to say, of course, that the two countries are without any such protections. The Magna Carta of 1215 ("that great confirmatory instrument ... which is the ground work of all our Constitutions"10) and the Bill of Rights of 1689 ("the product of an alliance between parliamentarians and common lawyers"11) remain, but they have a limited field of operation12 and are inadequate as modern statements of fundamental rights.13 And as subsequent discussion will demonstrate, the Australian Constitution does have something to say on the subject. It is nevertheless the case that the Anglo- Australian tradition has been to place faith in the common law, supplemented by legislation in specific areas, together with responsible and representative Parliamentary government, as the best means by which fundamental rights can be protected.




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