Military Law in Colonial Australia

Military Law in Colonial Australia

By Neil Preston


This book breaks new ground in reviewing the naval and military law of the Australian colonies before their federation in 1901. Its particular focus is on the disciplinary codes contained in Acts of Parliament and subordinate legislation. A disciplinary code takes a certain form having regard to the nature of the force to which it is to apply, which in turn depends on the circumstances in which the force is raised and its proposed role.

Matters dealt with include:

  • An examination of the colonies’ many disciplinary codes and a discussion of their adequacy.
  • The political development of the colonies to the stage where they were prepared to raise local forces.
  • The development of the British part-time forces and the British naval and military disciplinary codes, because the colonies looked to Britain for precedents for the kinds of forces they might raise and the disciplinary codes they might provide.
  • The various kinds of naval and military forces that the colonies experimented with.
  • The colonies’ responses to the withdrawal of British regular army troops in the period 1860-70.
  • The colonies’ responses to the reports of senior British officers sent to the colonies to advise on defence matters, including the colonial forces.
  • The naval and military law applying to colonial forces serving in the Sudan, the Boer War and the Boxer rebellion in China.

Military Law in Colonial Australia is erudite, beautifully written and advances important new scholarship. The author, Neil Preston OAM, has provided an invaluable service to all those interested in both military history and Australian legal history.


Published 16 December 2015
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760020347
Australian RRP $89.95
International Price $85.00