Chief Justice of the High Court speaks at Notre Dame Sydney

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 13-4-2007

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney

Publication Place



The Sydney Campus was honoured to welcome a visit by the Chief Justice of Australia, the Hon Justice Murray Gleeson in March.

Justice Gleeson visited the Campus at the invitation of the Sydney Law Advisory Board to speak to an audience that included members of the judiciary and the legal profession, and law students about Australia’s constitution.

With relation to the current debate on the federal system, and the intention of the constitutional founders about the constitutional validity of the legislations, he warned about putting too much store in historical versions of what was intended by the constitutional founders.

“Many people, not all of them in Australia, played a part in developing the text of the Constitution; and it was approved by the colonial parliaments, the voters in the referendum process, and, ultimately, the United Kingdom Parliament.”

He said in his speech that the meaning of the Constitution is to be found in the written text, not by examining the intentions of its authors.

“If the meaning of the Constitution were to be determined by reference to somebody’s contemporary understanding of that meaning, whose understanding would be decisive? What reason is there to believe that everybody that mattered, whoever they might be, had the same understanding?” he questioned.

Law student, Kathryn Barnes said, “It is an honour and a privilege to have Australia’s most senior legal officer speak at Notre Dame. I was particularly interested in his views on constitutional law, which is one of my major areas of interest.”