Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Australian Constitutional Convention 1973-1985: a guide to the archives
    McRae, Heather ; Mullins, Anne (Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, The University of Melbourne, 1998)
    Introduction to the collection: This collection provides researchers with records of the activities and achievements of the Australian Constitutional Convention (ACC) 1973-85, and the Australian Constitutional Convention Council which carried the Convention's work into the early 1990s. The collection also includes files dating from 1972 to 1973 recording preparations for the first Convention, and historical documents from the nineteenth century onwards relevant to the Australian Constitution and its review. The Convention met six times between 1973 and 1985. These plenary sessions were attended by delegates from Commonwealth, State and Territory Parliaments, local government representatives, and observers from the general public. Between these meetings, an energetic Chief Executive Officer, Secretariat, and various committees and consultants continued the research and deliberations of the Convention, and planned the next plenary session. Some of the State, Territory and Commonwealth delegations held separate meetings and circulated their own briefing notes as a Convention approached. The work and achievements of the Convention, and the context in which it operated, are set out further in the Historical Overview (pp. ). Records accumulated by the Convention Secretariat form the bulk of this collection. Over 500 files house records such as correspondence, submissions, minutes, working papers and reports. There are also bound volumes, audiotapes, videocassettes, photographs and other items. The collection includes records of attendance, debates and decisions at the plenary sessions, such as signed rolls of delegates and printed proceedings; and records of meetings of committees during the intervening months and years. Many of the files in the collection were compiled by Chief Executive Officer John Finemore, one of his assistants, or one of the research officers connected with the Secretariat. As the Secretariat was located in Melbourne, records of associated people such as secretaries to the Victorian Delegation have found their way into the collection, as has a set of files originally belonging to Victoria's A.R.B. McDonnell (Clerk of the Parliaments and Clerk of the Legislative Council) who became one of the clerks to the Convention. Although this collection is very extensive, it does not include all relevant records. Some related records are held at the Australian Archives (see pp. ). Researchers might also wish to consult State and Territory archives offices regarding any other records connected with the work of the ACC and delegations, and/or the Australian Constitutional Convention Council. The custodian of this collection is the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies (CCCS), at The University of Melbourne, and the collection is housed in the John Finemore Room in the University of Melbourne Law Library. Information about access to the collection is available at John Finemore's hand is evident throughout this collection. As Chief Executive Officer, he became the Convention's main spokesperson and point of contact. He corresponded with committee members, delegates and members of the public, oversaw the compilation of reference material and encouraged research. The richness of the ACC collection, and its survival, is largely attributable to John Finemore.