Australian Republic Constitution
Australian Flag News Get Involved! Events Resources
Main Menu
ACM Home
About ACM
ACM News
Anthems
Afghan Court Martial
Book Reviews
The Commonwealth
Contact ACM
Convenor's Column
Constitutional Monarchies and Republics Compared
Constitutional Monarchy in the Muslim World
Cost of Republicanism to the Taxpayer
Crowned Republic
Diamond Jubilee 2012
Event News
Federalism and the Mining Tax
Fiji
Flag: Keep The Flag
Governor of New South Wales
Head of State
Keating-Turnbull Republic: The Nineties
Knights & Dames
Latest News and Opinions
Links
Mate for a Head of State
Media and monarchy
Nile Inquiry
Opinion Polling
Orthodoxy and Monarchy
People's Republic?
Plebiscites
Prince Andrew
Prince Charles
Prince Harry
Prince Philip
Prince William & Catherine
Prince William In Australia
Prince William: The Early Years
Racist Republic?
Reserve Powers of the Crown
Resources
Return the Governor
Royal Commissions
Royal Finances
Self Funded Monarchy
Royal Yacht Britannia
The Succession
2020 Summit
Join our Mailing List
See our selection of videos from across the world:-
ACM Videos
AussieCrownTV - ACM's own TV channel:
Aussie Crown TV
Follow ACM on Facebook:
Facebook
Self Funded Monarchy
Self Funded Monarchy
Royal Finances
Royal Finances
Diamond Jubilee 2012
Diamond Jubilee 2012
Head of State
Prince Philip
Prince Philip
Special Caribbean Report: Crown & Commonwealth

      Crown

The Commonwealth
The Commonwealth
Prince Harry
Prince Harry
Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew
Knights & Dames
Knights & Dames
The King's Speech: read the book, see the film.

The King's Speech

Watch the 2010 Neville Bonner Oration: Tony Abbott.
Tony Abbott
Nile Inquiry
Royal Commissions
Royal Commissions
Opinion Polls

 

Plebiscites
Plebiscites
2020 Summit
2020 Summit
Orthodoxy & Monarchy
Orthodoxy & Monarchy
Afghan Court Martial
Constitutional Monarchy in the Muslim World
Constitutional Monarchy in the Muslim World
Mate for a Head of State
Mate for a Head of State
Racist Republic?
Racist Republic
A People's Republic?
A People's republic?
Keating Turnbull Republic: The Nineties
The Keating Turnbull Republic
Crowned Republic
Crowned Republic
Polls
Republicans' Best Asset?
Is David Flint ( National Convenor since 1998) the republicans best asset, as some claim?
ACM Home arrow Anthems arrow Articles of Interest arrow Our Constitution - The Will of the People

Our Constitution - The Will of the People Print E-mail
Written by ACM   
Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Once again, George Williams (Constitution a dud vehicle, 1 January) seeks to belittle our constitution. Almost all of the pillars of our nation came with settlement – the rule of law, the English language, that State institution above and beyond politics, the Crown, and of course, our Judeo-Christian culture. The subsequent introduction of parliamentary democracy was inevitable.

Federation was not. It was only achieved through agreement by the people on the terms establishing this "indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown." The constitution was never intended to read as a stand-alone course in elementary civics. Of course it has to be read in the context of its history and law as well as those conventions which wisdom and experience indicate should remain unwritten. These for example require the Governor-General to act on the lawful advice of the Prime Minister. As we know this is subject to the Governor-General’s higher responsibilities to the constitution - and thus to the people - the so-called "reserve powers". The constitutional "crisis" in 1975 was not in the Governor-General’s withdrawal of Mr Whitlam’s commission. Rather it was the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept that he could not govern without supply. (Perhaps the most curious aspect of the 1999 referendum debate was Mr Fraser’s assertion, put with a straight face, that there would have been no dismissal under the 1999 republican model. There would have been. But it would have been the other way around: Mr Whitlam dismissing Sir John Kerr.)

The achievement of federation was extraordinary. As Sir John Quick and Robert Garran observed, never before had a group of self-governing, practically independent communities, without external pressure or foreign complications chosen of their own free well to - come together as one people - through a deep conviction of national unity.

The constitution divided sovereignty between the Commonwealth and the States. Only four powers would be exclusively Canberra’s (as the capital was to be named). Then there was a list available to both, but where the Commonwealth would prevail. The rest were reserved to the States. This was to be enforced by the High Court. But after 1920, with the appointment of avowed centralists, the High Court rewrote the constitution in Canberra’s favour. As it did subsequently in the unwarranted expansion of the external affairs power, and the effective denial of a growth tax to the States. So let us hope the transfer of the proceeds of the GST will restore the financial autonomy of the States. As the American Founding Fathers pointed out in the Federalist Papers: "In a federation, the individual States should possess an independent and uncontrollable authority to raise their own revenues for the supply of their own wants."

Notwithstanding past High Courts’ determination to rewrite the constitution - the present court is more inclined to act with proper judicial restraint - Mr Williams is unhappy.

He laments the difficulty in amending the constitution, with only eight out of forty four referenda approved. (One of them, to give the social services power to Canberra may only have survived because it was never challenged.) But most of those rejected involved either more powers for Canberra, or some fiddling for political advantage with the constitution. Others were ostensibly attractive baits in which similar proposals were camouflaged.

The point is that the people are far too smart to allow this. They clearly want a federal Australia. And in a democracy, why should their will be flouted or castigated?

The Founding Fathers knew how even constitutional plebiscites could be abused, particularly in France. Instead they chose the Swiss style constitutional referendum, which requires details of the proposed change to be known in advance. This guarantees that the people’s true will can be ascertained.

As Quick and Garran wrote, this requirement is not to prevent or resist change. It is to prevent change being made in haste or by stealth, to encourage publish discussion and to delay change until there is strong evidence that it is "desirable, irresistible and inevitable".

Few constitutional systems provide such a guarantee. Australia is indeed fortunate to have had such Founders.

 
< Prev   Next >
ROYAL VISIT 2014

Image

The Book Depository
Image
Image
Prince William: The Early Years
Prince Charles

Prince Charles

Constitutional Monarchies & Republics Compared

Image


Defend the Constitution and Flag
Australian Election Watch

10th Anniversary Neville Bonner Oration

11th Anniversary and Appeal

Crowned Republic 

   Keep The Australian Flag
Return the Governor to Government House
The Succession
The Succession
The Governor of New South Wales
Governor of New South Wales
Fiji
Fijian soldier
Media and Monarchy
Media and Monarchy
Royal Yacht Britannia
Royal Yacht Britannia
Republic Audit: Costs of Republic
Republic Audit: Costs of Republic
Reserve Powers of the Crown
Events
December 2017 January 2018
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
Week 48 1 2
Week 49 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Week 50 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Week 51 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Week 52 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Week 53 31