Thomson Reuters has been the proud publisher of The Australian Law Journal (ALJ) for 90 years. The first issue rolled off the presses in May 1927.

To mark this milestone, Thomson Reuters Legal ANZ hosted a special 90th Anniversary celebration on 8 June 2017 in the Banco Court, at the Supreme Court of NSW, Sydney.

The Australian Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, was a Guest Speaker at the event. Commenting on the parallel development of the ALJ and the legal profession in this country, the Attorney-General said:

The Australian legal profession is privileged to have been able, for these 90 years, to rely upon the ALJ as both a source of legal news and information, as well as a source of well-reasoned argument and comment in an age where such qualities are increasingly difficult to find.

In his Introductory speech, the journal’s current General Editor, the Hon Justice François Kunc, commented on the ALJ’s milestone and its standing in the legal community:

Justice Kunc said the journal has four guiding principles:

  1. An appreciation of legal history, how we got to where we are today;
  2. A commitment to both the clear exposition of the law as it is today and to its principled development for the future;
  3. A firm sense of moral purpose, including to maintain a civil society which enables all its people to flourish; and
  4. An openness to the application of human imagination and creativity.

These principles led to Justice Kunc and the ALJ Editorial Board commissioning a special 90th anniversary issue on Indigenous Australians and the Law, curated by Guest Editor Professor Megan Davis, UNSW’s first Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a pivotal member of the Referendum Council.

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Professor Megan Davis, Guest Editor, ALJ Indigenous Special Issue

It’s a timely edition.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1967 constitutional referendum. This led to Australia’s Indigenous peoples being included in the census and enabled the Commonwealth to make laws for them. It’s also 25 years since the Mabo High Court decision that established native title land rights in Australia.

The Referendum Council, appointed by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, has been holding dialogues around the country on steps towards recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution, and is due to deliver its report to the Government at the end of the month.

Professor Megan Davis in her Keynote Speech described the many months of unprecedented consultation and dialogue which brought together the voices of Indigenous communities across the country, leading up to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

When François asked me to be the Guest Editor we spoke about the significance of the 90th anniversary and how appropriate it would be for it to be a thematic edition on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian legal system. Each of the articles was intended to represent the complex ways that Indigenous law traverses the Australian legal system: constitutional law, succession law, heritage protection law, property law, equality before the law and intellectual property.

Professor Davis emphasised that the core message of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “a roadmap for peace”, based on the consensus of “meaningful recognition”, which includes three key reforms: a voice to the Parliament, a Makarrata Commission – an agreement-making commission – and truth telling.  At this historic turning point, the Uluru Statement is an invitation to all Australians to walk forward together in building our nation’s future.

Among other special guests at the ALJ 90th event were distinguished members of the judiciary, including the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE GBS, former High Court Justice the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former ALJ General Editor the Hon Peter Young AO, past and present journal section editors and contributors, as well as representatives from the legal profession, academy and students.

Congratulations to the ALJ and its editorial and production team, as it celebrates 90 years and looks toward the centenary and beyond.

Current ALJ Board L to R: Nuncio D’Angelo, Angelina Gomez, Clare Langford, the Hon Justice François Kunc, Ruth Higgins