Although the Constitution came into effect in 1901 upon the federation of the former British colonies of Australia, the High Court was not in fact established until 1903. It finally became the court of last resort in 1986 upon passage of the Australia Act. This legislation abolished recourse to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. For more detail on these developments, see Constitutional history of Australia.
As well as its appellate role, the High Court also exercises some original jurisdiction, especially in regard to the administrative overview of the activities of Federal ministers and public servants. In practice, this most often involves attempts to overturn immigration-related decisions.
The first three justices of the High Court were:
As of 1980, the High Court ordinarily sits in the High Court building in Canberra (Prior to this, the court's facilities were shared between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne). Once a year, the court travels on circuit to some of Australia's more remote cities, such as Perth, Western Australia.
The current (as at 2003) sitting justices of the High Court are: