The Christian Foundations of Australia

With the movement toward Federation in Australia from 1860 till 1900, and with the accomplished disestablishment of Anglicanism as the "state religion" — the question as to the place of Christianity as such in the law and life of Australia inevitably needed to be addressed. Indeed, the fact that the Colonies were open equally to persons of different religions, was held in 1861 to have precluded the possibility of ecclesiastical law forming part of the received law of the Colonies. Moreover, the absence of a statutory system of ecclesiastical courts had rendered it inoperable. See the 1861 case ex parte Rev. George King.47 The withdrawal of state aid to the Church of England the following year, reduced that denomination to the same basis as that of other Christians. The British Historians' History of the World48 states that as regards public education, all of the Australian Colonies were far in advance of the Mother Country. Some of the problems which were still agitating England at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, were settled in Australia before the nineteenth century had entered its final quarter.