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Changes in the conception of the Australian court system occurred in parallel with fundamental shifts in the creation, formulation and discernment of national identity.
The history of Australian federal courts, from the creation of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1904 until now, is part of the broader history of how Australians have come to see themselves and their relationship to courts as institutions of an evolving Australian government. Although unremarked in current historical studies about Australian national identity, significant changes in the conception of the Australian court system occurred in parallel with fundamental shifts in the creation, formulation and discernment of national identity. This article considers the history of the Australian federal courts alongside the processes of the formation of Australian national identity, as explored by Curran and Ward. This approach reveals much about the strengths and weaknesses of the federal court system today.