The Criminal Law of Australia
THE HANDBOOK OF COMPARATIVE CRIMINAL LAW, M. Dubber & K. Heller, eds., Stanford University Press, 2009
52 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 1, 2009
The history of Australia’s criminal law is bound up in its foundation as a penal colony. The colony was first claimed by the British Crown in 1770 by Captain James Cook, with the first permanent European settlement established in 1788. The reason for the establishment of the colony was Britain’s urgent need to transport convicts following the loss of its 13 colonies as a result of the American war of independence.
The colony of New South Wales was established as a penal settlement in January 1788. As a settled colony - as distinct from a conquered or ceded one - the criminal law that applied was the inherited laws of England. This principle however was subject to a significant qualification. As Blackstone pointed out, “colonists carry with them only so much of the English law, as is applicable to their own situation and the condition of an infant colony.”
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