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ACM Home arrow Latest News and Opinions arrow An Address to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy

An Address to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy Print E-mail
Written by The Hon. Jarrod Bleijie MP   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014

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[The following address was delivered to the Gala Dinner of the  National Conference of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, the 14th since the referendum held in Brisbane on Saturday, 30 November 2013]

Introduction 

Thank you for inviting me to attend this National Conference Gala dinner in honour of the birth and christening of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.

I attended a dinner for the Australian Monarchist League earlier this week where we discussed how positive it is for the monarchist movement in Australia to have a monarchist Prime Minister and here in Queensland, many State Government Ministers who support our constitutional monarchy.

Despite the positive position we are now in, the valuable work undertaken by organisations like ACM to promote our constitutional monarchy in Australia is still vitally important and must continue.

I can assure you that the State Government has been working hard to preserve Queensland's constitutional and traditional links to our sovereign and it is a privilege to be here this evening to address you about some of the measures we have undertaken in this regard.
 

Succession to the Crown Act 2013

 

First, I would like to mention the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (the Act) which was urgently enacted to precede the birth of the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Act delivered important reforms to the rules relating to succession: to allow for succession regardless of gender; to remove the bar on succession for an heir and successor of the sovereign who marries a Roman Catholic; and to limit the requirement for the sovereign's consent to marriage.

By enacting these reforms as Queensland legislation, the Queensland Government demonstrated that it takes very seriously both the State of Queensland's and the Executive Government of Queensland's ability to maintain its direct connection with the sovereign.

It was with great pleasure subsequently that the Government was able to congratulate the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of the Prince of Cambridge.
 
In celebration of the event, the Government announced that babies born in Queensland on 22 July 2013 would receive a commemorative boxed medallion and that special commemorative birth certificates would be available to children born in the State in 2013.

Just this week I handed out the first of these certificates to twins on the Sunshine Coast. You may recall that Brisbane landmarks were also bathed in blue lighting for the celebration.
Naming of the new courthouse

A little earlier, in August 2012 - during the year of the Diamond Jubilee - I was also pleased to announce that Buckingham Palace had assented to the Queensland Government's request that the new Supreme and District Law Courts be named in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The court system, like the monarchy, has played an integral role in shaping Queensland over the past 150 years.
 
The naming of this landmark was fitting recognition of Her Majesty's devotion to public life throughout the Commonwealth over the past 60 years.

Being only the second Diamond Jubilee celebrated by a British monarch since the Diamond Jubilee of Queensland's namesake, Queen Victoria, it was important to mark this occasion in a public way that reflected its great significance.

Reinstatement  of Queen's Counsel

You would also be aware that the Government recently reinstated the office of Queen's Counsel.

Before 1994, Queensland's most eminent barristers were offered appointment to the office of Queen's Counsel.

Appointments were effected by the Governor's award of letters patent. In 1994, the then Queensland Government effectively abolished the office of Queen's Counsel by ceasing further appointments.

In place of Queen's Counsel appointments, the Bar Association of Queensland and Chief Justice led a process to select and award eminent Queensland barristers with the honorific of Senior Counsel.

Our Government took the initiative of reinstating the traditional office of Queen's Counsel to address reported confusion over the status of Senior Counsel, with the office of Queen's Counsel being more widely recognised locally and internationally as a mark of professional distinction at the Bar.

After consultation with the Bar Association and Chief Justice, a notice detailing the proposed scheme for these appointments was published in the Government Gazette of 3 May 2013. The guiding principle for the Queen's Counsel selection and appointment process is that it should be transparent and not subject to intervention by the Executive Government.

The process is led by the Bar Association, with the Chief Justice making the final determination as to whether any person should be appointed as silk and, if so, which person or persons. The Chief Justice provides me, as Attorney-General, with a list of those whom he has determined are appropriate for appointment as silk and I, through the Governor in Council process, present Her Excellency, Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland, with these nominees for the issue of letters patent.

I am pleased to advise that almost all existing Senior Counsel and a number of post-judicial former silks have now moved to Queen's Counsel.

This process was followed for the QCs that will be announced later this year and all new QC appointments will follow this process.

JP certificates - amended to reflect traditional oath

Justices of the Peace perform an important service for the Queensland community. Shortly after taking office, I decided to amend the appointment certificates for JPs and Commissioners for Declarations to include a traditional Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty and the Queensland Coat of Arms. Queen Victoria granted Queensland the Coat of Arms in 1893 and it symbolises the Queen's constitutional authority in the State.
 
There are records in Queensland of JPs swearing allegiance to Queen Victoria from the mid 1800s.

That Oath includes statements such as 'I will at all times and in all things do equal justice to the poor and the rich, and discharge the duties of my office according to the laws and statutes of the Realm and the Colony, to the best of my knowledge and ability, without fear, favour, or affection'.

Today's Oath is not dissimilar: 'I do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, in the office of justice of the peace and I will do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.' All appointment certificates are also personally signed by me.

I made this change to ensure that all appointees knew that they were part of a long-standing tradition which dates back to the 1100s when the first justices of the peace were Keepers of the King's Peace under King Richard the 1st.
 
Competitive federalism

In keeping with our focus on maintaining Queensland's sovereignty through a direct connection with the monarchy, the Newman Government has consistently applied the principle of competitive federalism to issues affecting all States and Territories.

With the election of the Abbott Government, the Queensland Government will now be able to work with a federal government that will put cooperation before confrontation. However, this will not alter the fact that this Government takes very seriously its responsibility for law-making for the peace, welfare and good government of Queensland and will not modify our view that it is the Queensland Government that is in best position to make decisions in the best interests of Queenslanders.

The Government has an active reform agenda across all portfolios. Where uniform or consistent national laws are proposed, the Queensland Government believes that, as a general principle, there must be an overriding and clear case why the State should refer its constitutional powers to the Commonwealth Parliament before a reference is made.

Where there is a case for consistent legislative purposes among the States, the Government's preferred approach is to give effect to those purposes, where possible, by Queensland legislation that remains entirely within the province of the Queensland legislature to amend or repeal.

In my portfolio, for example, the Government chose not to participate in the national legal profession reforms as advocated last year because the proposed model was not considered to be in the best interests of Queensland.

The Government has also acted in the best interests of Queenslanders by introducing some of the toughest criminal laws in the country, most notably in relation to:

  • The confiscation of unexplained wealth - resisting the Federal Government's push for national legislation;
  • Synthetic drugs - making possession, sale or trafficking of any substance with an intended similar effect to a dangerous drug a criminal offence;
  • Organised crime and criminal motorcycle gangs; and
  • The continuing detention and supervision of dangerous sexual offenders.

Consistent with this approach, the Government has also developed a set of principles against which current or proposed inter-governmental activities with the Commonwealth and other states and territories must be rigorously assessed.

Those principles are underpinned by a desire to improve the well­ being of Queenslanders and preserve Queensland's constitutional prerogatives of parliamentary, policy and fiscal sovereignty within the context of the Australian Federation and the Constitution of Australia.

I am confident that this framework provides a sound basis for policy and legislative development and decision-making for the future.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to address you this evening and I trust that the measures I have discussed reassure you that the Queensland Government is committed to maintaining strong constitutional and traditional links to our sovereign.

 
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