First page extract from the Civil Sittings Notebook of Judge Lutwyche, the Resident Judge at Brisbane, Moreton Bay, 16 May 1859

Separation of Queensland from New South Wales in 1859 was not accomplished without important constitutional challenges, particularly those by the Honourable Alfred Lutwyche, who had been appointed Supreme Court Judge for the Moreton Bay district in February 1859. Under the provisions of the imperial News South Wales Constitution Enabling Act, it was expected that the Queensland legislature would mirror that of the parent colony, but Governor William Denison’s interpretation of the Order-in-Council resulted in the Queensland Legislative Assembly being elected under the provisions of the 1853 Constitution Act, rather than the 1858 Electoral Act, a blunder which disenfranchised one-third of the new colony’s male voters. The advice of Lutwyche advised that colonial legislation could not override the imperial statute but was ignored, and it was not until 1873 that electoral reform finally brought redress. Lutwyche was also personally affected by the Order-in-Council when his annual salary was reduced from £2000 to £1200. While it was later confirmed that Lutwyche’s argument over his salary and other constitutional matters was indeed correct, his forcefulness and willingness to go public antagonised the Herbert ministry and ensured that Lutwyche was overlooked for the position of Queensland’s inaugural Chief Justice. He nevertheless continued to make important contributions to Queensland’s judicial system, and in 1878-1879 Lutwyche was appointed  Acting Chief Justice during the absence of James Cockle. He died the following year.


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