Australia`s system of government is based on the rule of law. This means that everyone must obey the law; that no one, no matter how important or powerful, is above the law. This means that the law applies not only to citizens, but also to organizations and representatives of the government, including the Prime Minister, heads of government departments and members of the armed forces. The same law that criminalizes the theft of someone`s property applies to everyone. Another aspect of the rule of law is that no one is allowed to exercise powers other than those conferred on him or her by law. The first civil and criminal courts established since the early days of the colony of New South Wales were rudimentary, adaptable and military. Although legality was not always respected, the courts limited the powers of the governor and the law of the colony was sometimes more egalitarian than in Britain.  The Constitution can only be amended by national referendum, a provision inspired by the Swiss cantonal system. The manner in which power is divided is defined in the Constitutional Act of the Commonwealth of Australia of 1900 (United Kingdom) (the Constitution). Article 51 of the Constitution lists the powers of the Federal Government.
State and territory governments have power over everything within their borders, that is, everything not mentioned in article 51.  The Constitution is structured in this way because the states came together to create the Commonwealth and they agreed among themselves on the powers that the Commonwealth they created could exercise and the powers they would retain. By 1824, the Acts of the British Parliament had created a judicial system based essentially on the English model.  The New South Wales Act of 1823 provided for the creation of a Supreme Court with the power to deal with all criminal and civil matters « as fully and completely as the Court of King`s Bench, the Common Pleas and Her Majesty`s Exchequer at Westminster. »  Subordinate courts have also been established, including courts for general or quarterly sessions and courts for motions. Before colonization, the only legal systems that existed in Australia were the various customary law systems that belonged to indigenous Australians. Indigenous legal systems were deliberately ignored by the colonial legal system and were recognized as legally important only to a limited extent by Australian courts in the post-colonial era.  Everyone has a slightly different role to play in the legal system, and these are described later in this Hot Topic. The Supreme Court has stated that Australia`s common law system is uniform across all states.  This can be compared to other jurisdictions such as the United States; which have maintained different common law systems in each state. The High Court is Australia`s highest court. He has the final say on the judicial decision of all legal matters. It hears appeals from all other courts in the country and has the original jurisdiction.
 The judicial system of each state and territory is responsible for the majority of the laws of each jurisdiction, most of which are based on the English common law inherited from Britain after the colonization of Australia. The Australian legal system has several forms. It includes a written constitution, unwritten constitutional conventions, statutes, ordinances and the common law system established by the courts. Its legal institutions and traditions are essentially derived from those of the English legal system.  Australia is a common law jurisdiction whose judicial system has its origins in the common law system of English law. The common law of the country is applied uniformly in all states (subject to extension by law).  The English legal system was introduced to Australia by colonization. Upon their arrival in Australia, the settlers declared that the laws of England should apply immediately to all populated lands.
 This statement was asserted, citing a legal fiction, that the Australian mainland was terra nullius; specifically. Lands that belonged to no one, because it was believed that the Aborigines who already inhabited the continent were not coherently organized to conclude a treaty with a unique representation of their peoples.  Most countries originally colonized by the British have legal systems derived from the British legal system that have been passed on to them. In most cases, when countries gained independence from Britain, laws were enacted specifically to meet the needs of society, even though elements of the British legal system persist. .