Preface to Legal Opinions Volume 4: 1946-50

For this volume of legal opinions we have chosen to cover the immediate period following the end of the Second World War. This was a significant period of recovery for Australia as is reflected in many of the opinions that demonstrate the Commonwealth’s attempts to deal with the aftermath of the war.

The opinions cover issues such as the return of our soldiers, ongoing rationing, guardianship of migrant children evacuated to Australia from the United Kingdom during the war and the status of Australia’s trade relations with many countries after the war. In this volume we have also included in the Annexure some 1942 opinions that were not included in the previous volume concerning the Commonwealth’s attempt to introduce a uniform tax system for the collection of income tax.

The original selection of opinions for inclusion in this volume was undertaken by Peter Jeffery, Adam Kirk, Catherine Langman and Denise Saunders of AGS and Jeff Murphy of the Attorney-General’s Department. The selection was later refined by Guy Aitken SC, Deputy General Counsel in AGS and Jim Faulkner SC of the Attorney-General’s Department.

The opinions were re-keyed and proofed by legal assistants in AGS. They were subject to editing by Kirsten McNeill, formerly an editor with AGS and now a consultant editor through Apricot Zebra, with assistance from Guy Aitken, James Faulkner and Sandra Power who has previously worked with both AGS and the Attorney-General’s Department. Sandra Power also compiled the abstracts at the head of each opinion and the footnotes to each opinion. The indexes were developed by Michael Harrington. Administrative support for the project was provided by Helena Teixeira and Denise Saunders.

As with previous volumes, we have, to a large extent, left the opinions in their original format although obvious errors have been corrected. Also consistently with the previous volumes we have standardised references to addresses, legislation and authors and have added footnotes. Some opinions have been anonymised although where matters are in the public domain this has not always been done.

This project has been greatly assisted by AGS librarians – in particular, Yvonne Suter, National Manager, Library Services and Robyn Nielsen, Reference Librarian. David Whitbread, Corporate Communications Manager in AGS, and James Gergely of AGS have managed the production of this volume in electronic form.

Particular mention should be made of the help we received from the Special Collections librarians Gillian Dooley, Craig Brittan and Sue Hammond at Flinders University.

The complex work that government lawyers do is reflected in the opinions contained in this volume. These opinions demonstrate that government lawyers have a heavy burden in terms of shaping government policy into valid laws. The opinions also show that government lawyers do not merely execute their client’s wishes because governments, just as other legal persons, have their conduct regulated by the law and moreover are expected to adhere to standards that private clients do not necessarily need to meet. The craft of lawyering in this context is a challenge that government lawyers then and now continue to embrace in serving the public interest.

Chris Moraitis PSM
Attorney-General’s Department

Ian Govey AM
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Government Solicitor