6 October 1903

The High Court of Australia sits for the first time.

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The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and the ability to interpret the Constitution of Australia thereby powerfully shaping the development of federalism in Australia.

The High Court is mandated by Constitution section 71, which vests in it the judicial power of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Court was constituted by, and its first members were appointed under, the Judiciary Act 1903. It now operates under Constitution sections 71 to 75, the Judiciary Act, and the High Court of Australia Act 1979. It is composed of seven Justices: the Chief Justice of Australia, currently Susan Kiefel, and six other Justices. They are appointed by the Governor-General of Australia, on the advice of the federal government, and under the constitution must retire at age 70.

Since 1979, The High Court has been located in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The majority of its sittings are held in the High Court building, situated in the Parliamentary Triangle, overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. With an increasing utilisation of video links, sittings are also commonly held in the state capitals.

23 July 1903

The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.

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As any entrepreneur will tell you, paying your suppliers can be among the toughest challenges facing a start-up business. That’s as true now as it was in 1903, when 39-year-old motor racing enthusiast Henry Ford decided to strike out on his own.

In June that year, the Ford Motor Company was established. A thousand shares were split between 12 investors, with Ford, as vice-president and chief engineer, holding a 25.5% stake. But right from the get-go, the company was in dire straits.

The fledgling company depended on suppliers, including the Dodge brothers, to make car parts. These were assembled by a team of 40 engineers in a rented garage on Mack Avenue in Detroit. But Ford, who had yet to sell a single car, struggled to keep up with the payments.

Faced with the choice of walking away or doubling down, the Dodge brothers (who later founded their own famous car company) decided to throw their lot in with Ford. They agreed to write off $7,000, and extended a $3,000 six-month credit line in return for 10% of the company.

Not long after, things started to look up. The Ford Motor Company received its first order for three Model A cars, one of which was paid for upfront, while deposits totalling $1,320 were paid for the other two. That was just as well, seeing as the company had already blown through all but $223 of its $28,000 start-up capital.

“Who can’t afford a Fordmobile?”, asked an advert placed in the June edition of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal. Well, most people. The Model A came in two flavours: a four-seater ‘Tonneau’, priced at $850, while a sporty two-seater version, the ‘Runabout’, cost $750 – not cheap considering the average US salary in 1900 was only $438.

But Ernest Pfennig of Chicago was one of those who could, and on 23 July, he became the proud owner of a Ford. While the Model A was no runaway success, by October, the Ford Motor Company had managed to turn a $37,000 profit.

Ford and his engineers continued to tinker with his designs, and in 1908, the Model T went on sale. The ‘Tin Lizzie’ was a better hit with the motoring public, and safeguarded the Ford Motoring Company’s future in the years ahead.