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ANDREW INGLIS CLARK (1848-1907)

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Andrew Inglis Clark was born in Hobart Town in February 1848.

 He became a barrister, politician and judge. In the 1870s, he became an active member of the local debating and literary societies. He became a prominent member of the Minerva Club where contemporary problems were discussed and debated among members.

Andrew was closely associated with the Federation movement in its early years. The Tasmanian Parliament elected Clark as a delegate on the Federal Council in 1888, 1889, 1891, and 1894 and the Australasian Federation Conference in Melbourne in 1890.

At the Federation Convention of 1891 his draft constitution Bill, which systematised provisions drawn from the American Constitution and the Federal Council Act, was warmly received by delegates from the other colonies.

Although tending to be too literary and verbose, Clark described how the organs of central government would work and proposed a separate federal judiciary, which would replace the Privy Council as the highest court of appeal on Australian law.

A bout of influenza prevented Clark from initially joining fellow drafters on the steamship Lucinda, where his draft was tinkered with but not fundamentally changed: eighty-six of his ninety-six sections found their way into the 1900 Australian Constitution.

 Interestingly, it was a visit to America that first fanned his interest in Federation. He became impressed by the American Constitution and its democratic and republican ideals, and when he returned to Hobart he was convinced of their suitability for Australia.

Through his experience as business manager of the family engineering firm, he believed Federation was a solution to intercolonial tariff rivalry. His own draft constitution Bill was practically a transcript of relevant provisions from the British North American Act, the United States Constitution and the Federal Council Act, arranged systematically, but it was to be of great use to the drafting committee at the convention.

Henry Parkes received it with reservations, suggesting that "the structure should be evolved bit by bit". George Higinbotham admitted the "acknowledged defects & disadvantages" of responsible government, but criticised Clark's plan to separate the executive and the legislature.

Clark's draft also differed from the adopted constitution in his proposal for "a separate federal judiciary", with the new Supreme Court replacing the Privy Council as the highest court of appeal on all questions of law, which would be "a wholesome innovation upon the American system".

He became a member of the Constitutional Committee and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Although he took little part in the debates he assisted Samuel Griffith, Edmund Barton and C. C. Kingston in revising Griffith's original draft of the adopted constitution on the Queensland government's steam yacht, Lucinda; though he was too ill to be present when the main work was done, his own draft had been the basis for most of Griffith's text.

Alfred Deakin, The Federal Story (Melbourne, 1963), described Clark at the conference: "Small, spare, nervous, active, jealous and suspicious in disposition, and somewhat awkward in manner and ungraceful in speech, he was nevertheless a sound lawyer, keen, logical and acute."

By 1900, Clark's support of union had waned and, in fact, had turned into opposition. He apparently thought that financial clauses would act deleteriously on small States like Tasmania and withdrew from the Federation movement.

Although this meant that his contribution to Australia's foundation document was not fully recognised, the order, form, substance, and American flavour of the Australian Constitution owed more to Andrew Inglis Clark than any other single individual.

Sir William Deane, the former Governor-General, has fairly dubbed him "the primary architect of our Constitution”.

He died on 14 November 1907 at his home in Hobart.