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Title: Of the people, by the people, for the people: Law-making in New South Wales, 1843-1855
Contributor(s): Mills, Kerry Fraser (author); Atkinson, Alan (supervisor); Roberts, David  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2007
Copyright Date: 2006
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This thesis examines a central issue of Australian history, using an historiographical model developed by British scholars. Historians exploring developments in Great Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century generally agree that modem methods of government and of conducting parliamentary business emerged there during that period. Some emphasise historical forces as the explanation for change, others the impact of ideas. Insofar as Australian historians have written about such issues, they have paid little attention to methods of government and the creative uses of authority in New South Wales. A core problem for this thesis has been to consider how closely developments in mid-nineteenth-century New South Wales followed those in Great Britain and, in the process, to consider what colonial governments and legislators actually did in the field of law-making, especially in the 13 years leading up to the commencement of responsible government in 1856. While much was adapted from British experience in terms of legislative precedent and methods of government, New South Wales was no mere replica of its parent. The willingness of early "conservative" legislators to experiment in a creative and radical manner led to a period of dense and impressive social reform in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Between 1843 and 1855, after the establishment of a partly elected legislature but before responsible government, increasingly potent methods of introducing public opinion and public accountability into the business of law-making were being perfected in New South Wales, petitions, the press and, especially, select committees of the legislature, all playing a part. At the same time, a growing emphasis was placed on the need for expertise in government and the public service, especially by adherents of utilitarianism. This study reveals a period of tremendous legislative and, even, nation-building effort which provided a strong launching pad for responsible government. However, the introduction of that form of government was itself followed by something of a legislative denouement, the factionalism that accompanied the triumph of the liberal democrats and overwhelmed clear utilitarian priorities militating against the passage of all but a few landmark reforms in the parliament's early years.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Rights Statement: Copyright 2006 - Kerry Fraser Mills
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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