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  • 16 The Law in Tasmania and Australia
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The Law in Tasmania and Australia


The law in Tasmania can be imagined as a set of four babushka dolls. The smallest doll is Tasmanian law – bylaws, regulations, legislation and such like. These include council regulations and bylaws, driving laws, criminal offences, and many other aspects of law that affect our lives. The patterns on this smallest doll are made up of all the court judgments that tell us how Tasmanian law is applied.

The next babushka doll is federal, or Australian law. This doll is bigger than Tasmanian law, and Tasmanian law sits inside federal law because we are one country, under the Australian Constitution. Federal government has the power to make laws around such topics as customs, immigration, and the workplace.

The third babushka doll is international law. However, this doll is very fragile, and how it covers Australian and Tasmanian law is never quite clear until courts decide.

The final and largest babushka doll is the common law. The common law gives us all the fundamental principles about the nature of the legal and political system within which we live. Freedom of the person, the sanctity of private property, and the just exercise of power to punish those who harm others.

Each of these levels is significant at some point in time in the justice system. It is a justice system that has its roots in the year 1216, meaning it is over 700 years old. Law changes with time, but the fundamentals remain the same: liberty, privacy, and the just exercise of power by the state.

What is the Law?

What is the law and how do you access it? This chapter provides the foundation to understanding all areas of law by considering what the law is and how it operates through legislation, common law and the Constitution as well as providing the basics on how to access the law and law reform platforms.

The Constitution

Australian state and federal parliamentary power to enact legislation comes from constitutions. Both the States and the Commonwealth have constitutions. A constitution creates the parliament and defines its basic procedures. To achieve political stability a constitution is normally entrenched, wh...

The Common Law

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Private: Copyright Owners

Copyright Owners Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights. These rights enable the copyright owner to make copies of the work and to protect it from unauthorized use. The type and extent of the rights differ according to the nature of the material. The general rule is that the author or crea...

Finding the Law

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Page last updated 05/03/2019

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